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[SEOUL] The number of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 owners demanding compensation for being inconvenienced by the smartphone's troubles is starting to rise.
In what may be the first Note 7 related class-action lawsuit filed in South Korea, 527 smartphone buyers are demanding Samsung Electronics Co pay each plaintiff about 500,000 won (about S$440) for time and effort lost when the phones were first recalled and then scrapped amid reports devices were heating up and catching on fire.
"We're now planning to file a lawsuit every month," said Ko Young-yeel, an attorney for Seoul-based Harvest Law, which filed the class-action lawsuit with the Seoul Central District Court Monday. The firm took just five days to have the more than 500 Note 7 owners sign up for the class-action lawsuit, he said. Consumers are "very angry."
Samsung started a global recall in September following reports that its newly released smartphone was causing burns and property damage. The Suwon-based company sent text messages to Note 7 owners in Korea requesting they visit a nearby store to get their phones exchanged for new ones.
Mr Ko said customers had to return to the store to get batteries checked before they had to download a program that only allowed 60 per cent of battery capacity. Samsung then asked them to come into the store again for the recall.
"It takes time to just reinstall all the applications and set up logins again," Mr Ko said, describing the complaint in the suit. "Then, like a bolt from the blue, they say there is something wrong with the phones, again."
Among the complaints the law firm received, three owners claimed their phones caught on fire. Mr Ko said the law firm will prepare a separate lawsuit for them.
The suit in Korea comes less than a week after the first Note 7-related class-action against Samsung was filed in the US. The phone owners there are seeking unspecified damages and an order requiring the company to repair, recall and/or replace the phones, and extend applicable warranties.
Samsung didn't immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit. The company on Thursday announced it would give Note 7 owners in Korea who exchange their phones with a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge discounts on the next new Note 8 or S8 phones expected next year. The company cut its third-quarter operating profit by US$2.3 billion on Oct 12 after deciding to permanently end production of the troubled smartphone.