Nokia cannot guarantee battery replacement time

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 August, 2007, 12:00am


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Nokia owners were advised yesterday to stop using telephones with questionable batteries even if they had not received a new one from the phone maker, which said it could give no guarantee about how long it would take to send out replacements.

The advice came a day after Nokia issued a global recall of 46 million batteries that it said could short-circuit and overheat during recharging. Consumers have been struggling to come to grips with the replacement procedure.

Lawyer Daniel Wong Kwok-tung suggested that the affected users should buy a new original Nokia battery and stop using the recalled batteries immediately.

He said consumers had a better chance of claiming the cost of a new battery bought before receiving a replacement than of getting compensation for injuries suffered from an overheating battery.

His advice flew in the face of Nokia's stance that it is safe to keep using the old batteries until a replacement is received.

Nokia Hong Kong communications manager Emily Hung Wai-yi said the company had no plan to pay refunds to consumers who bought a new battery themselves.

She said people affected should register with Nokia which would send them a replacement battery by mail while their old batteries would be collected at the same time. However, she could not say how long a registered user would have to wait to receive a replacement.

'Before getting a replacement, people can still use and charge the batteries, which are still basically safe,' she said. 'Although about 100 incidents of overheating have been reported to Nokia worldwide, no serious injuries or property damage have been reported.'

Owners can call a hotline, 2136 6388, or register online to arrange replacement of the Matsushita BL-5C battery manufactured between late 2005 and late 2006.

Ms Hung said the company could not tell how many Hongkongers had registered for a replacement. Nokia had already increased manpower to handle the hotline.

Delays were being experienced reaching hotline operators yesterday.

A South China Morning Post reporter called the number five times between 3.17pm and 3.36pm but could not get through.

When an operator was finally reached at 3.47pm the operator said she could not help the reporter to check if a battery was among the batch being recalled.

She asked the reporter to leave the mobile phone number and said another staff member would call back to help check the battery model and the customer register. A Nokia employee called the reporter more than two hours later at 6pm.

Ms Hung said the company would try to find out why the hotline operator failed to provide immediate help to the caller.

The Consumer Council's chief research and trade practices officer, Brian Cheng Yeuk-nin, urged people to buy mobile phones and batteries from authorised dealers only. He said it was normal that the batteries would become warmer during charging, but consumers should immediately stop the charging if there was a burning smell.