Top UAE government officials met with Samsung yesterday to discuss a recall of the troubled Note 7 handsets following consumer complaints over cash refunds.
The Ministry of Economy told Aletihad, The National’s Arabic language sister newspaper, that the meeting was in response to complaints it had received from customers who were refused cash refunds for the popular Dh2,999 device,
The handsets were recalled for the second time this month following a series of battery fires.
Aletihad reported that some customers were declined a cash refund at unnamed service centres, being asked to provide their bank account details to receive a refund via bank transfer or credit card refund instead.
Refunds to bank accounts take up to two workings days on average, while refunds to credit cards take between 7 and 10 working days.
A representative for Samsung confirmed that officials had met with the Ministry of Economy yesterday morning to discuss the recall process for the Note 7, and that the two entities would issue a statement “in the next few days”, declining to give further details.
Samsung permanently halted production of its Note 7 earlier this month, after an initial worldwide recall of 2.5 million units failed to solve problems with the handsets’ batteries.
More than 500 Korean Note 7 owners have filed lawsuits against Samsung demanding compensation for the time spent returning their handsets and transferring data to replacement smartphones, according to local media reports. Several US customers have also filed class action lawsuits against the Korean manufacturer.
The Ministry of Economy promised Note 7 owners based in the UAE they would get a full refund if they returned their handset to the place of purchase, instructing owners to stop using their handsets and power them down.
UAE retailers yesterday said that the recall process had been running relatively smoothly, with no reports of customer disgruntlement at a lack of cash refunds.
“The recall process has been extremely busy but has gone fairly smoothly so far,” said Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer of Jacky’s Retail, which runs Samsung stores in five locations.
“We installed queuing systems in our stores and nearly tripled our staff strength to manage the extra load during this period.”
Mr Panjabi said that simple cash flow issues at certain stores may have been behind customer complaints.
“With credit cards being close to 60 per cent of sales today, they may not have had sufficient cash on hand,” he said.
“We have been smoothly processing refunds for all customers who have purchased a Note 7 device from Sharaf DG, and offering customers the option to buy another device immediately at our stores,” said Nilesh Khalkho, chief executive at Sharaf DG.
“While a majority of our customers have already taken the refund, there are a few who haven’t yet come back with their devices, and we are proactively contacting them to visit us and complete the refund process.”
* With reporting by Andrew Scott
Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter