Samsung phone catches fire in viral video, company tries to silence consumer

Two videos of a Samsung Galaxy S4 catching fire have gone viral on YouTube, as it emerged yesterday the technology company had attempted to silence a Canadian customer.

Earlier this month, YouTube user Ghostlyrich posted a video showing the damage done to his Samsung phone after it caught fire while charging using a Samsung charger, in response to the company asking for proof of the damage.

“The other night we plugged it in, and we like, were letting it charge – literally nothing different,” Ghostlyrich says in the video.

“And then the smell of smoke, fire and destruction.”

Ghostlyrich continued to show the user the damage to his phone, including a phone case which had bubbled from the heat and blackened section of the phone near the charger point. He also said it caused damage to the phone’s internal hardware.

“Thank God the battery didn’t go,” Ghostlyrich said.

“Anyone who knows these batteries will know, when they blow, they expand and just explode. And when they do it’s just molten fire.”

Following the video being posted, Samsung contacted Ghostlyrich asking him to remove the video in order to receive a new phone of a similar model.

After receiving the letter, Ghostlyrich decided to post another YouTube video, this time detailing the company’s attempts to silence him.

“We got a letter from Samsung, and don’t get me wrong the first part is them going through telling me they’d like me to remove the video. That’s fine with me, it makes sense, it’s a business move. But once I start reading through this, it’s a whole load of bullshit,” he says.

The letter requested Ghostlyrich remove the video, remove all legal liability from the company and keep the settlement deal confidential.

Ghostlyrich posted a copy of the letter online with the names removed.

Samsung’s approach to resolve the issue has now backfired, with Ghostlyrich’s second video attracting more hits than the first one. It currently has more than 800,000 viewers and almost 3000 comments on YouTube alone.

Some commenters believe Ghostlyrich should have just accepted Samsung’s exchange offer, while others have praised him for publicising Samsung’s approach to the issue.

SmartCompany has contacted Samsung for comment, but received no response prior to publication.

It’s not the first time an issue such as this has emerged in the tech world. Apple iPods have caught fire in the past causing consumer outrage, and earlier this year a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone in Switzerland went up in flames because of a faulty third-party battery.

In July this year another Samsung Galaxy S3 is said to have caught fire in Swiss teenager Fanny Schlatter’s pocket, causing her third degree burns. Upon investigation it was revealed the phone had previously been placed in the microwave to remove water damage.

Technology expert Paul Wallbank told SmartCompany Samsung’s response is typical of the tech industry.

“This is not the first time they’ve been caught out. This is a classic reaction from Samsung, but in its defence, it’s not just them.

“Tech manufacturers in general are pretty poor at responding to these issues. Take Dell, for example, there was a video of one of its laptops catching fire at a conference in 2006 and at the beginning Dell completely denied it had a problem.”

Wallbank says the tech industry tends to deny any problem until the brand damage is “so great they have to start addressing it”.

“The best example in Australia is of Telstra BigPond. It was in 2006 or 2007, and there was a meltdown where people were unable to log onto BigPond, but Telstra denied there was any problem for weeks,” he says.

“There is a tendency in tech to blame the user.”

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