Samsung offers refund or replacement for Note 7 as Hong Kong lawmaker calls for tighter laws on mobile phone safety
Some service providers offer a full refund for data packages involving the Note 7; others have yet to announce their plans
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 owners in Hong Kong and Macau will be able to get a full refund or exchange the troubled model for a cheaper Galaxy S7 Edge with a refund amounting to the price difference, the South Korean technology giant announced on Wednesday.
The firm earlier said it was halting production of the smartphone following a rash of battery explosions.
The company said in a statement that customers could return the troubled model and original accessories for the device by producing an official receipt to the point of purchase until December 31.
But those who purchased the device through a network service provider could be subject to different replacement or refund options, it said, adding customers should contact the operator for details.
However, arrangements for customers who purchased their Note 7 from a telecommunication service provider through data packages remain unclear in some cases.
Both CSL and 3HK announced that customers could get a full refund for its data packages. The option of getting a new device is also available.
SmarTone and China Mobile Hong Kong had not announced their refund plans as of Wednesday night.
The confusion surrounding the issue prompted concern over the city’s safety regulations, given that mobile phones are not covered. Lawmakers vowed to raise the issue in the Legislative Council.
Information technology lawmaker Charles Mok told a radio programme on Wednesday that there were loopholes in the city’s current law as no government department could be held accountable for smartphone safety.
The Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance, which came into force in 1995 and is implemented by the Customs and Excise Department, excludes electrical products from safety regulations governing manufacturers, importers and suppliers.
The same is true for the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, which excludes mobile phones and power banks from its voluntary safety certification scheme.
Although the Communications Authority is responsible through the Telecommunications Ordinance for the safety of users of telecommunications equipment, it is “not empowered under the law to request that manufacturers recall or replace mobile phones with ‘problems’,” an authority spokeswoman said.
“We should either empower the authority through the Telecommunications Ordinance or no longer give exemption to mobile phones in the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance,” lawmaker Charles Mok said.
In the statement issued by Samsung on Wednesday, the firm reiterated that Galaxy Note7 owners should power down and stop using the device.
But clearly not all users have done so. “I’m pretty satisfied with my phone ... It has not overheated when I watch films or play games on it,” a Note 7 user surnamed Lee told an RTHK radio phone-in programme.
However, insurance experts warned that such customers would not be able to make insurance claims if the device exploded.
“It is likely that there will be no cover, as such use should be discouraged and the insured should take reasonable precautions against an accident,” insurance sector lawmaker Chan Kin-por said.
He added that cover for fire or explosion damage to property or injury caused by the troubled devices may also be rejected if reasonable precautions were not taken.
Insurers Prudential and AIA did not reply to Post inquiries about possible claims.
Samsung ordered a global recall and announced it was permanently halting production of the Note 7 in the face of increasing concerns worldwide about the device overheating and catching fire.