Galaxy Note 7 owners on Verizon are in for a surprise if they continue to use the recalled handset. Outgoing voice calls will redirect to Verizon staff who’ll demand the phone be sent back.
As of last month, 93 percent of Note 7’s had been returned to Samsung following the safety recall related to fire and explosion risks. (Samsung is expected to announce the results of an investigation shortly, with independent analysis pointing to the battery design as the cause.)
Samsung and international carriers have tried a range of tactics to get owners to stop using the phone and return it. In the US, the main tactic was a software update in December that stops the phone from recharging. The only way to keep the phone operating is to keep it permanently plugged in to a power source and even then the battery level will only remain steady rather than top up.
Verizon says that “thousands” of customers are still using the handset, likely because they intentionally went to the effort of blocking the update. That suggests they’ve made a conscious decision to use the handset despite the risks.
To get around this, Verizon’s now tweaking its system so that any outgoing calls from a Note 7 (other than to 911) will go instead to customer service staff who’ll give the caller a stern warning.
If that doesn’t work – and to be fair, it’s not unheard of for smartphone owners to make few if any voice calls – Verizon says it may bill the customers the full retail cost of the phone, even if they’ve previously received an automatic refund for it.