You’ve probably heard about the nightmare Samsung has been dealing with for nearly the past two months. Their supposedly latest and greatest Android smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7, was anything but. Instead of being able to focus on the new waterproof design or upgraded camera, users had to worry about the possibility of the device overheating and catching fire.
Last month when I was traveling from Dallas to Phoenix on an airplane, the flight attendants announced that if you had a Note 7, it needed to be powered off before you entered the plane. And if there was one in your checked luggage, you needed to let the flight attendants know so they could remove it and ensure it was powered off. Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation with the Federal Aviation Administration has banned bringing a Note 7 on an airplane.
Samsung’s response to the recall has been swift. Upon determining that the replacement devices were in fact overheating, they offered an extended exchange and refund program…with a catch. If you want to trade in your Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, you can get up to $100 in bill credit. But if you want to trade it in for a different brand of smartphone, you only get $25 in bill credit…I know Samsung is going to lose a ton of money from this fiasco, but I don’t think “punishing” those who don’t trust the brand any longer is the right answer—I think everyone should be offered the same amount of bill credit “as a token of [their appreciation and acknowledgement of [a person’s] inconvenience.” Their words.
Overall, I think Samsung handled this crisis well from a PR angle. They were swift, communicative and informative. While it is devastating that their replacement devices didn’t hold up to the claim that they are safe, they were quick to respond to that as well and do a complete recall. The only thing that gets me is the extended (but somewhat limited) exchange/refund program, but that has to do more with keeping the company profitable more than anything else, I suppose.
Do you think this was an example of effective crisis communications?