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Samsung’s Passive PR Response to Dangerous Phones Puzzles Experts

October 12, 2016

Crisis-management experts are baffled by Samsung’s passive response to reports that its Galaxy Note 7 phone is overheating and catching fire because of a manufacturing flaw, including replacement models.

As The New York Times reports, the electronics giant halted production of the high-end smartphone and posted a statement on its website telling owners of the device to power it down immediately and contact the outlet where they bought it for a refund or an exchange.

But to see that message, visitors to Samsung’s home page have to click a link with the less-than-urgent label “Updated Consumer Guidance for the Galaxy Note 7.” As of yesterday afternoon, the instructions had not been posted to Samsung’s Facebook page or Twitter account.

“This is a phone that can literally catch fire and burn your house down, with you in it,” said Dean Crutchfield, an independent brand consultant in New York. “I don’t think that’s being highlighted enough.”

Samsung recalled 2.5 million phones last month but without required coordination with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The brand now has to recall the replacement smartphones as well, amid reports they are also catching fire.

Samsung is South Korea’s most important company, and not accustomed to close public scrutiny. Many consumers interact with Samsung through cellphone carriers like Verizon and AT&T or retail outlets like Best Buy, which are anxious to protect their own brands from the bad publicity. — Greg Beaubien

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