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07 September 2016

Samsung Mobile Phone S6 Explosion Prompts Mother's Concern People Are Walking Around with 'Time Bombs'

This Samsung S6 began to catch fire while it was
charging.  (ABC Sunshine Coast:  Kylie Bartholomew
Consumers in Australia are urged to report faulty products to productsafety.gov.au.

Samsung mobile phone explosion prompts mum's concern people are walking around with 'time bombs'
by Kylie Bartholomew and Sheridan Stewart, abc.net.au, 7 September 2016

A Sunshine Coast mother says she is happy to be alive after waking at 2am to a smoke-filled room, with her mobile phone "glowing red hot like an element" as it charged on the bedside table.

Charlene Orchard put her Samsung S6 on to charge before going to bed in a room with her four-year-old daughter Ashley and their dog Sam.

"First of all it was panic and my first priority was to get everybody out of the room, but then get the handset out of the wall, away from the curtains," she said.

"I took the handset outside, but afterwards the panic passed and the shock started to set in that it could've been much, much worse.

"When you sit and you reflect back, you take in all of the scenarios. It could've been very bad for everybody, loss of property and possibly loss of life.

"You start to count your blessings that we got out of it very well in this instance, but then your concern starts to worry about other people who may not even be aware that this is an issue."

Samsung this week issued a recall of more than 50,000 Galaxy Note7 smartphones, a newer model than Ms Orchard's phone.

The Sunshine Coast mother said while the mass recall related to a different model phone, she was still concerned.

"My concern is that everybody's focusing on 7s and ... [what if] it's not the phone issue, but actually a battery issue or a charging issue and nobody's being made aware of it? Then people are walking around with time bombs.

"It looks exactly the same as any 7 that caught fire and that's my concern."

Samsung needs to demonstrate phone's safety: Choice

Tom Godfrey, from Australian consumer advocacy group Choice, told ABC Local Radio it was imperative for Samsung to address the issue, particularly on the back of the company's recall of more than 144,000 washing machines after concerns they could catch fire.

"It is deeply concerning because clearly that phone sounds incredibly dangerous," Mr Godfrey said.

"I think the challenge for Samsung will be to demonstrate that this isn't just a one-off problem with the earlier model."

Ms Orchard said she hoped hers was an isolated case.

"I don't want to create a wave of panic ... but the most important thing is that we don't lose life, and property doesn't get damaged," she said.

"As consumers we have a right to know that the property we are using is safe ... one case is enough."

Consumer urged to be aware of issue

Hours after the incident, Ms Orchard took to a community Facebook group to warn others.

She said when the phone exploded, it was connected to an authentic Samsung charger and USB cord.

She has defended charging the device beside her bed.

"I always charge beside my bed. It's handy and the last thing I put down before I go to bed," she said.

"We become complacent with our products, we use them all the time, we charge them in our cars, we charge them beside our beds and we do it when we're not using it.

"Nobody says 'I'll put my phone on charge and watch it'. They put it on charge and walk away.

"If we've got issues with devices suddenly catching fire and nobody being there to catch that, then we've got bigger problems on our hands."

Ms Orchard has reported the incident to Samsung, Telstra — the telco to whom the handset is contracted — and the Telecommunications Ombudsman.

Each authority has vowed to investigate over the next few weeks, but in the meantime she has no handset, and a phone contract to pay.

"We're focusing on how lucky we are [to be alive] ... but it's an inconvenience at the moment," she said.

"We're trying to run a business. I'm without a handset, and nobody's coming to help with replacing anything."

Incident may be symptom of broader problem

Samsung has apologised, but Ms Orchard felt the company had underestimated the potential danger.

"I offered to send photos because they couldn't understand," she said.

"I said 'It's melted, it's burnt' and she said 'Well can you check the sim number?' and I said 'No, it's melted'."

The ABC has contacted Samsung for a response.

In the meantime, Mr Godfrey has encouraged consumers to report faulty products to productsafety.gov.au.

"Clearly, if it's happening to you it may well be a symptom of a broader problem that we need to get to the public's attention," he said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-07/samsung-phone-explodes-middle-of-night/7823284

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