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Consumer protection in Hong Kong

Hongkongers who purchased Galaxy Note 7 can get full refund from Samsung

But South Korean company, which suspended phone sales after reports of the device exploding, will make the transaction only upon customers’ requests

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 September, 2016, 2:39pm

Samsung Electronics H.K. is now offering a full refund for worried Hongkongers who have purchased the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, but it is doing so only upon consumers’ requests, following reports of exploding batteries from users worldwide.

Consumer Council chief executive Gilly Wong Fung-Han, after discussions with Samsung’s Hong Kong office since last Saturday, said the company has promised to “manage requests flexibly” and was willing to give a full refund to Note 7 purchasers, other than only offering phone replacements as stated on the official website.

The South Korean technology giant has suspended sales of its new 5.7-inch pen-based smartphone on September 2 – just two weeks after the flagship phone’s launch – after 35 cases of phones catching fire while charging in the United States and Australia were reported. No explosion cases have been reported in China and Hong Kong.

A total of fewer than 500 Galaxy Note 7 smartphones that were sold in Hong Kong and Macau between 26 August and September 1 were identified by Samsung to contain batteries supplied by the same manufacturer that produced the problematic component. But the company insisted that “Note 7 smartphones purchased from Hong Kong and Macau since September 2 are not affected”.

But Wong noted: “We are aware that there are media reports saying even non-affected Note 7s have overheated battery problems, so we have raised the concern to Samsung.”

Samsung said on Wednesday night that of the 500 sold in Hong Kong and Macau, they are still waiting for 162 phones to be returned through the replacement programme.

For Galaxy Note7 devices purchased in Hong Kong or Macau on or after September 2, an optional software update will be available as soon as possible to reassure consumers that their devices do not need to be replaced, the company said.

Despite saying that the media reports referred to an isolated case, Samsung’s Hong Kong office has agreed to refund customers who bought Note 7s anytime in the city – but without stating this choice on their website, according to Wong. The refund amount is unclear but Samsung’s suggested retail price for the phone was HK$6,198.

Wong also advised customers to go to Samsung customer service centres if they encounter problems in getting a refund for their phones through Samsung’s hotline or online inquiry channel.

According to the Consumer Council, 65 complaints and inquiries in total regarding the smartphone have been filed to them since last Friday.

“We are asking Samsung to give a full and transparent explanation to consumers,” Wong said, adding that all the complaints received have been directed to Samsung but that the council will continue to follow up on the incident.

Samsung had already sold 2.5 million units of the Galaxy 7 smartphone worldwide when it announced the recall in early September.

But domestic electrical appliances chains Broadway and Fortress are still selling Galaxy Note 7 in their stores. Fortress’ customer service said the company will try to help customers who want an exchange or a refund upon the provision of a receipt, and that the request will take two to three days to process, but added that the deal was not guaranteed.

Passengers on Cathay Pacific and Dragonair planes are now prohibited from having the Galaxy 7 smartphone in their checked baggage and using it during the flight, according to the airlines’ websites.