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    Oct 13, 2016

    Own a Note7? You can get a refund or another model

    CONSUMERS may now get a refund for their Samsung Galaxy Note7 following an unprecedented decision by the world's largest handset-maker to pull the plug on its flagship device barely two months after its launch.

    Alternatively, they may exchange the Note7 for another model, with a refund of the price difference between devices, said Samsung in a statement yesterday.

    At this point, however, it is not clear what the refund amount will be and what devices customers can get for their exchange.

    Samsung said it is still "in close discussions" with telcos and retailers on the details of the refund and exchange programme.

    Market observers said the refund details are complicated by subsidies offered by the telcos for the handset in exchange for consumers signing a two-year service contract.

    "Consumers might get back only the subsidised rate of the phone they paid to the telco," said Michael Tan, 47, a market observer and director of an IT company in Singapore.

    It is also not clear whether consumers will be allowed to break their telco service contract.

    The refund process is further complicated for customers who paid a $38 one-time fee for the Samsung Concierge service.

    The service lets users upgrade to a new phone every year without paying an early recontract penalty to the telcos, or get $350 off from phone retailers when they buy a new phone a year later.

    "Samsung is also looking into remedies for Galaxy Note7 customers who purchased the Samsung Concierge service. Consumers can call 1800-SAMSUNG (7267864) for further assistance," said Samsung yesterday.

    Willy Tan, 34, who bought three Note7 sets at full price from dealers, said he wants a full refund of the retail price of $1,168 apiece.

    On Tuesday, the firm and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission asked consumers to stop using the phone over fire concerns, even among the supposedly safe replacement handsets.

    There were several reports of the phone emitting smoke or catching fire even after they had been exchanged through a global recall programme last month. The recall involved 2.5 million handsets, including tens of thousands in Singapore.

    A replacement phone began emitting smoke during a Southwest Airlines flight in Louisville on Oct 5 and passengers had to be evacuated.

    Samsung had initially put the blame for the fault on the batteries but it is now working with safety regulators around the world to investigate the continuing problem.

    The Note7, launched in August, was meant to rival the Apple iPhone 7 released last month. The product, which sports an iris scanner and S Pen stylus, among other features, received rave reviews.