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article imageSamsung allegedly bribed a man to stay silent about a Note 7 fire

By James Walker     Oct 20, 2016 in Technology
Samsung allegedly tried to bribe a man not to report that his Note 7 exploded. In the wake of the company's massive recall of all Galaxy Note 7 devices, the company has been accused of trying to defend its reputation over the safety of its customers.
The International Business Times reports Chinese citizen Zhang Sitong made the claim in an investigation by state broadcaster Chinese Central Television this week. The 23-year-old Note 7 owner lives in Tianjin in north-east China and was able to film his handset catching fire.
While using the device to call a phone number, the Note reportedly started to vibrate and visibly smoke. Sitong dropped the phone onto the ground as his friend began to video the incident. Sitong reported what had happened to Samsung, presumably expecting a replacement device to be offered.
Instead, Sitong claims two Samsung employees arrived at his home later in the day. They brought with them a brand new Note 7 and around $900 in compensation. A condition was attached though. Samsung would only give Sitong the money if he agreed to keep the video public and refrain from posting it online.
Sitong refused Samsung's "offer." He reported his story to the press and decided to quit his job to investigate Note 7 explosions. He travelled across China with Hui Renjie, another owner of a charred Note 7, visiting laboratories and testing why the devices caught fire. They prepared a piece of investigative journalism.
Sitong and Renjie could not determine the cause of the fires. However, they did rule out external heat sources as the trigger. Sitong asked Samsung on multiple occasions to investigate why his phone caught fire. The company consistently refused and allegedly began to ignore his calls.
The reason for Samsung's bribe appears to lie in comments made by the company back in early September, as the extent of the problems with the Note 7 began to become clear. Samsung assured Chinese consumers that handsets sold in the country were safe and not part of the global recall, claiming they had different batteries not susceptible to the explosions.
Samsung has been widely criticised for its poor handling of the Galaxy Note 7 recall. Offering customers bribes to stay silent about the explosions will only worsen its situation, especially if the reports turn out to be true. With the Note 7 now pulled from sale, Samsung has already taken a loss running into the billions of dollars. Bribing customers will cost it even more in the long term.
The cause of the Note 7's continued battery problems has still not been fully determined. The company's engineers have not reproduced the problem in internal testing, even though a hundred devices are now known to have melted in customers' hands, homes and cars. The company is said to be mulling the use of LG batteries in next year's Galaxy S8, instead of the cells produced by its subsidiary company Samsung SDI.
More about Samsung, galaxy note 7, note 7, Smartphones, Mobile
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