Carriers are urging people to return the phones to the closest retail store for their carrier. But some owners who don't live near a retail outlet or who bought their phones from an online retailer, say they're running into problems because of restrictions on shipping the devices.
BGR.com reported the saga of one Reddit user who was told there was currently no way to return the phone because UPS and FedEx refused to carry the package due to safety concerns.
It may have been a miscommunication on Samsung's part or the problems might have been ironed out. According to a Sept. 15 update on UPS.com — four days before the BGR.com report — the shipper says it will accept the phones but that they must be shipped via UPS ground and must be placed in special packaging, which is being made available to customers.
Curious about that "special packaging?"
TechCrunch offers a peek at what they called "Samsung's Explosion-Proof Note 7 Return Packaging" with a handy description of the packaging process.
You put the phone in a static shield, then put that inside a box, then you put that box inside of a box, then you wrap the whole thing in a thermally-protective casing that, at the very least, should minimize the damage caused by any batteries that pop in transit. Even with all that in mind, the exterior box explicitly states that it's not allowed on planes, and that it should only be transported on the ground.
Here's a video demonstration of the packaging process (note the special gloves).
Here are UPS' instructions for shipping:
As Samsung defines and communicates its recall replacement program for its Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones, UPS has offered our support and will continue to monitor the situation. UPS follows International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines that currently prohibit air shipments for any lithium battery products recalled for safety reasons.
The U.S. DOT has approved the return of recalled products using specially permitted DOT-SP 16011 packaging. The returns can only be shipped using UPS® Ground services. Samsung has made arrangements to provide the necessary packaging customers will need, as well as a return label to complete the return.
In a policy change dated, Sept. 2, officials with the U.S. Postal Service also said they will accept returns of the phones but the devices may only be shipped using the Postal Service's retail ground/parcel select service and must be packed in "rigid" packaging such as cardboard or hard plastic boxes. Phones in soft packs or padded envelopes will not be accepted. A "surface transportation only" label must also be affixed to the package. More details on shipping requirements can be found here.
A spokeswoman for Amazon.com said the company is offering a full refund to people who purchased the Galaxy Note 7. Those who wish to return the devices will be sent special packaging.
The Federal Aviation Administration this week also updated the guidance it first sent out on Sept. 16, urging passengers to power down, not use, charge or store the phones — or replacement phones — in checked baggage. Earlier it had strongly advised passengers not to turn on, charge the devices while flying or store them in checked baggage.
Samsung said it was ending sales of the troubled device on the recommendation of South Korean safety officials, who said they suspected a new defect in the replacement phones that may not be related to its batteries. In September, Samsung issued a global recall and blamed a manufacturing error in the battery that made the original Galaxy Note 7 phones prone to catching fire.