The Samsung Group a Korean Conglomerate is involved in diverse businesses including advanced technology, skyscrapers and plant constructions, petrochemicals, fashion, hotels, finance, medicine and more.
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. established in 1969 in Suwon, South Korea is the flagship company of the Samsung Group. The company has evolved over the last 78 years into a manufacturing giant. The company manufactures hard-disk drives, televisions (LCD, PDP, CRT, LED), mobile phones, digital cameras, lithium-ion batteries, semiconductors, chips, flash memory etc.
Of late Samsung has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. To start with, there have been several instances of the much-touted Galaxy Note 7 bursting into flames because of battery issues. There were numerous complaints of replacement sets giving similar problems.
Because of safety issues and the negative publicity, it received from the press and authorities, Samsung decided to recall the Galaxy Note 7 and discontinue its production. To add to the woes of the company there have been reports of their washing machines catching fire as well.
According to The New York Times, Samsung has a history of product recalls in recent years starting 2003 when 184,000 microwave ovens in the US were recalled.
In 2007 the company had to recall 20,000 washing machines because of fire hazards. It doesn’t end here; 210,000 refrigerators were recalled in 2009 in South Korea and 43,000 microwave ovens in the U.S. the same year, because of electrocution risks.
There are further reports that Samsung may recall top-loading washing machines in the U.S. manufactured between 2011 and the current year because of risks of personal injury and damage to property. Samsung and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are working together to address and rectify safety issues involving these machines.
The CPSC has advised customers to use the delicate cycle mode of the washing machines when washing heavy and water-resistant clothes in order to lessen the impact injury in case the machine malfunctions.
In Australia, Samsung had to refund 4000 washing machine owners, after having initially refused to issue refunds for the defective machines. This was after the intervention of the Australian Govt.
Another case reported by The Times was that of a Boston resident whose induction range was replaced three times over a period of four years. The fourth replacement exploded in 2013 and the money was refunded by Samsung in 2015 when they lost the legal case in a small-claims court.
Other manufacturers have had to make recalls and refunds too, but the frequency of product malfunctions and the hazards involved with various Samsung products makes one wonder whether proper safety measures are being practiced while manufacturing these products.
Samsung has a lot of damage control to do and implement proper manufacturing methods if they are to regain the trust of the consumers. Their declining reputation and drop in the market share have to be addressed.
As far as the most recent recall of the Galaxy Note 7 is concerned, Samsung has failed to explain the real problem satisfactorily. Consumer Union policy analyst, William Wallace had this to say, “Samsung has not been communicative with consumers, regulators or the media as clearly as it should have during this recall, especially for a hazard as dangerous as this one where your phone can catch on fire, damage your property and harm your family.”
As discussed earlier, the latest Galaxy Note 7 debacle is not the first that Samsung has faced. With a history of product recalls in the last few years, one wonders whether profit is the main priority for Samsung or do they give any importance to customer safety as well?
Out of all the other product safety issues that Samsung has faced over the years, the latest recall of the Galaxy Note 7 has been their biggest problem by far involving over 2.5 million devices.
Ironically, the Galaxy Note 7 which was intended to be the crowning glory of their smartphone range may turn out to be Samsung’s Waterloo, so to speak. Only time will tell.