Ever since Samsung halted sales of the Note 7 in response to at least 35 confirmed cases (at the time) of exploding Note 7 phones, Samsung’s reputation has, in many ways, tanked. It doesn’t help that the situation keeps getting worse as more reports keep rolling in from different parts of the world, and even airlines forbidding their use in-flight – this was not in any way an isolated incident. In the U.S. alone there have been 92 reports of batteries overheating, 55 reports of property damage, and 26 reports of burns.
The entire episode is no doubt dangerous, but I think that Samsung has done a pretty good job so far regarding damage control. I was already impressed at how quickly the company responded to initial claims, but the company continues to reassure consumers through their actions by cooperating with carriers to work out an exchange program for Note 7 owners and officially recalling the device. Their statements also reflect their sympathy to consumers, as seen in thisrecently released apology video on Samsung’s website. Samsung seems to be taking the issue very seriously. Every article I have come across regarding some new unfortunate event due to this defect states that Samsung is looking into the issues individually, and “doing what they can” for some of the more devastating incidences.
Still, while Samsung was quick to resolve, resolution to the issue hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. Consumers are understandably disappointed that this is even an issue, and the exchange program hasn’t exactly been a breeze for everybody. Anecdotally, a lot of people have stated being turned away for a return or exchange simply because they no longer had the box. Also, those interested in the exchange were only offered a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge in place of a Note 7 is not something most Note 7 owners wanted (or else they probably would have purchased one of those devices, which have both been available for months). But what are they going to do in the meantime otherwise? Many people take advantage of the option to exchange their current phone for credit towards their new phone, so a lot of people were left with few alternative options when it came to exchanging the Note 7. A loaner program would have been ideal here.
Between not having a backup and not necessarily wanting the offered exchange device, many assumed that an explosion couldn’t happen to them and chose to take the risk and keep using their Note 7. If I’m being completely honest, when these issues first appeared, I admitted that I probably wouldn’t have exchanged either. The decision to keep the phone is understandable considering the odds are ultimately in most users’ favor… but as time went on and more reports kept popping up, I have to admit that even I would no longer accept the risk if I carried a Note 7. At this point, it is actually mandatory to at least keep the Note 7 powered off – it is technically illegal to use them until replacements are available, which should be no later than September 21. And the fact that it is illegal to use a phone just goes to show that this is an extremely serious issue.
Yet, due to Samsung’s response, I’m not feeling completely negative towards the company. That doesn’t mean that I’m not skeptical, or that I’ll be the first in line to buy their smartphones in the future, but I do have more confidence that Samsung at least cares about their customers and will try to make things right if things go wrong in the future. This might be a one-off thing due to the seriousness of the issue, but it nonetheless boosts my confidence in Samsung. Having experienced “Antennagate” over the iPhone 4’s antenna issue and hearing Steve Jobs tell iPhone users the reason they’re experiencing reception issues is because they’re “holding the phone wrong”, it’s nice to see a company take responsibility and say, “Yes. This is an issue that we are responsible for. We are sorry. We are already fixing it.”
This whole thing is a big mess, and I predict that reputation with Samsung’s phones will be perceived negatively for a while (and probably a long while at that, thanks to confusion on exactlywhich Samsung Galaxy phone has the explosive issue – many reports simply claim that the “Galaxy 7” is causing issues, which is a little too vague for those in-the-know), but on a customer service level their image has, in my opinion, improved.