527 South Koreans to sue Samsung on Galaxy Note 7 recall

SEOUL, South Korea – Hundreds of South Korean Galaxy Note 7 smartphone owners were preparing Monday to file a lawsuit against Samsung Electronics over the fire-prone device.

Attorney Peter Young-Yeel Ko, head of the Harvest Law Firm said Monday that 527 consumers want Samsung to compensate them for the costs to visit shops to exchange their phones, for the hours they had to wait while transferring data and for psychological harm from using a hazardous product.

His clients include a consumer who claims to have lost thousands of pictures from a family vacation and another who drove eight hours round-trip to return the phone.

Samsung recalled the Galaxy Note 7 phone because it tends to overheat. It recalled replacement Note 7s after finding they also were prone to catch fire, the company stopped making or selling them.

The company did not immediately respond to called and emailed requests for comment.

Ko, a longtime Samsung phone user, said he had to visit a mobile shop three times after buying the Note 7 in August, first to get the battery checked when reports of the devices catching fire first surfaced. He went back to get a replacement phone after Samsung’s first recall and again after the company’s second Note 7 recall.

Apparently in response to criticism over its handling of the recalls, Samsung announced Monday that Note 7 owners who switch to Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge smartphones can get 50 per cent discounts on upgrades to Galaxy S8 or Note 8 smartphones next year if they return the S7 or S7 Edges.

Samsung earlier offered 30,000 won ($26) worth of coupons for the Samsung mobile shopping mall to all Note 7 users. Those switching to other Samsung phones were offered 70,000 won ($62) worth of coupons.

Kim Chae Yong, who joined the lawsuit, said he spent nearly $100 on gas and highway fees to return a Note 7 phone after the first recall. Kim drove about 300 kilometres (185 miles) from his home in Cheonan to Busan, where he had bought the Note 7. “I feel betrayed,” the 26-year-old plant engineer said. “I am angry and I don’t ever want to use it again.”