AT&T halts Samsung Galaxy Note 7 replacements as they catch fire

AT&T has said it will no longer issue Galaxy Note 7 smartphones after reports that replacements are also catching fire.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

AT&T has confirmed that it is no longer issuing replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 handsets due to reports of the smartphones continuing to catch fire.

"Based on recent reports, we're no longer exchanging new Note 7s at this time, pending further investigation of these reported incidents," Fletcher Cook, AVP of Global Media Relations at AT&T, told ZDNet on Sunday US time.

"We still encourage customers with a recalled Note 7 to visit an AT&T location to exchange that device for another Samsung smartphone or other smartphone of their choice."

Samsung and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a global recall of the smartphone last month, following 92 reported incidents in the United States where the batteries overheated and caught fire.

The replacement Note 7s were said to be safe, but reports have now emerged saying they have also caught fire.

"Samsung understands the concern our carriers and consumers must be feeling after recent reports have raised questions about our newly released replacement Note 7 devices," Samsung said in a statement over the weekend.

"We continue to move quickly to investigate the reported case to determine the cause and will share findings as soon as possible. We remain in close contact with the CPSC throughout this process.

"If we conclude a safety issue exists, we will work with the CPSC to take immediate steps to address the situation. We want to reassure our customers that we take every report seriously and we appreciate their patience as we work diligently through this process."

Similarly, fellow mobile carrier T-Mobile last week halted selling or issuing replacement Note 7 devices, allowing customers to exchange them for another smartphone.

"While Samsung investigates multiple reports of issues, T-Mobile is temporarily suspending all sales of the new Note 7 and exchanges for replacement Note 7 devices," T-Mobile said in a statement.

"Customers can still bring their recalled Note 7 or the new replacement Note 7, along with accessories they purchased from T-Mobile, to a T-Mobile store for a full refund and choose from any device in T-Mobile's inventory. We'll waive any restocking charges, and customers who purchased during preorder can keep the free Netflix subscription and Gear Fit or SD card they received."

Sprint also launched an exchange program for any other smartphone during the investigation.

Earlier on Sunday, reports emerged of a US man who went to hospital for smoke inhalation on Tuesday after waking up to find the battery of his replacement Note 7 -- not on charge at the time -- had exploded.

Subsequently, a replacement Note 7 caught fire on a Southwest Airlines flight, causing the aircraft to be evacuated prior to take-off. The original phone had been previously banned by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

"Passengers may not turn on or charge the devices when they carry them on board a plane," the FAA said in a statement.

"Passengers must also protect the devices from accidental activation, including disabling any features that may turn on the device, such as alarm clocks, and must not pack them in checked luggage."

Australian airlines have also banned the smartphone, but Qantas is allowing the replacement [PDF] handset to be charged and powered on while on-board.

Samsung is due to provide an update on its investigation into the Galaxy Note 7 this week.

With AAP

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