Consumer Safety Agency Looking at Battery Concerns With Other Samsung Smartphones

ABC News has identified reports of other models besides Note7 posing a risk.

ByABC News
September 15, 2016, 1:46 PM

— -- There may be more Samsung smartphones with battery problems than the company has acknowledged. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is looking into reports that Samsung phones other than the Galaxy Note7 may have led to fires, ABC News has learned.

Samsung has denied a broader problem with exploding batteries in its popular smartphones, saying that the battery issue — which several reports allege is causing phones to explode and start fires — is isolated to its recently debuted Note7.

However, an ABC News examination has uncovered at least six incidents around the world in which consumers have reported Samsung phones that are not Note7s have caught fire or otherwise posed a risk to user safety.

Those include a man in Port St. Lucie, Florida, who says his Galaxy S7 was charging in his car when the car caught fire; a woman in the U.K. whose Galaxy S7 appeared to melt and start smoking in a restaurant; and a 6-year-old boy in Brooklyn, New York, who reportedly suffered burns when an S4 exploded while he was watching videos on it.

“Recent reports suggesting Samsung’s battery issue goes beyond the Galaxy Note7 are not true,” a representative for Samsung told ABC News in an email. “The battery cell issue announced earlier this month is isolated to one battery manufacturer for one specific phone model.”

Recall Confusion

Reports of other models having battery issues increases scrutiny of the company, which has been criticized for its handling of problems with the Note7.

The company did not initially pursue an official recall, electing instead to establish a product exchange program on Sept. 2. Under that plan, a customer could either temporarily exchange a Note7 for a different model until a replacement Note7 was made available the following week or trade in a Note7 for one of two other models and get a refund for the price difference.

On Sept. 9 the company acknowledged it was pursuing an official recall that would be sanctioned by the CPSC. At that point, details about the exchange program were updated to say that Note7 replacements were pending CPSC approval, and no time frame for the availability of a replacement was given.

In an email to ABC News early Thursday, a Samsung representative said, “We understand that our consumers are waiting for more information, and we are collaborating with the CPSC to deliver a solution specifically for our Note7 owners as quickly as possible.”

The company has said that it “is continuing to work with the CPSC and our carrier partners to develop and evaluate solutions that are best for U.S. Note7 owners. No action will be taken without the approval of the CPSC. Customer safety remains our top priority.”

In the meantime, the CPSC is urging consumers not to use or charge the Note7, and the Federal Aviation Administration is strongly urging passengers not to turn on or charge the phones on board planes.

However, without an official recall, the phone may still be legally sold, and the FAA may not ban the device from flights.

Company Apologizes Abroad

Meanwhile, Samsung has printed apologies in every major newspaper in South Korea — including those in English — detailing remedies for South Korean customers affected by the Note7 issue. The options mentioned include cash payments for the inconvenience and replacement devices that could be available by Sept. 19.

However, such apologies have not appeared in U.S. media and do not appear to be on Samsung’s website.

When asked by ABC News why an apology was not offered to U.S. consumers, a company representative said, “We have nothing else to share.”

ABC News’ Karson Yiu and Sang-un Youn contributed to this report from Seoul, South Korea. Whitney Lloyd in Washington and Avianne Tan in New York also contributed.

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