Samsung tried to pay a Chinese customer to keep quiet after their Note 7 smartphone exploded, according to a report from The New York Times.
Two Samsung employees reportedly arrived at Zhang Sitong’s house after he captured a video of his phone malfunctioning, and offered him US$900 (AUD$1165) if he agreed not to share the video. He rejected the offer.
The Note 7 has been a disaster for Samsung. Initially well-reviewed, dozens of the handsets exploded or caught fire, including on planes and in the hands of children. Even a global recall couldn’t fix the issue, and The South Korean electronics company has now taken the unprecedented step of permanently discontinuing the phone — costing it more than US$5 billion .
But China has been a particular pain point because Samsung initially insisted that the Note 7 phones it sold in the country were safe because they used a different battery supplier — even as it recalled devices elsewhere in the world. But this wasn’t the case (as Zhang Sitong’s experience shows), and Samsung’s initial denials now risk undermining the company’s reputation in the world’s largest smartphone market.
People have already raised eyebrows at the way Samsung has handled some customers with faulty Note 7 phones. One Kentucky resident was hospitalised with smoke inhalation after his phone started smoking on his nightstand while he slept, and had been in communication with Samsung about the issue when a company rep accidentally texted him: “I can try and slow him down if we think it will matter, or we just let him do what he keeps threatening to do and see if he does it.”
The implication was that Samsung employees were trying to stop or slow him from going public about what had happened to his supposedly “safe” replacement Note 7.
Concerningly, this incident reportedly occurred before another replacement Note 7 had caught fire on a commercial passenger plane — meaning that Samsung had known about an issue with the replacement devices and didn’t do anything about it, leading to that subsequent incident.
Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.