Though Samsung is voluntarily taking Note 7 handsets back, Consumer Reports notes it’s not an actual recall. From its report:
Samsung said on Friday it had stopped selling the Note7, and would replace models that consumers had already purchased. But the company’s action was not an official recall, which would have involved the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and would have made it illegal to sell the phones. Consumer Reports shoppers checked multiple retailers Friday morning, and found the phone for sale at some of them.
If Samsung was initiating the recall process, its first step would be to immediately report any issues to the CPSC. According to the Consumer Product Safety Act, two of the criteria for reporting are if the product “contains a defect which could create a substantial product hazard,” or “creates an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.” The CPSC would then evaluate these reports and determine if corrective action is required. The agency also works with companies to determine the scope, hazard, and remedy, and makes recommendations.
An official recall would lay out steps for consumers to take with their Note 7s; much like a recall for a faulty car part details how owners should proceed to have it fixed.
The issue with a smartphone recall is many consumers would have no way of communicating while out and about, and possibly at home. To make us whole again, Samsung would likely have to issue loaner handsets while the Note 7 issue was being remedied.
With its low failure rate — about 35 in every one million handsets actually burn up — the Note 7 recall is unprecedented. Unfortunately, in addition to not issuing a full-on recall, Samsung also didn’t pull the handset from store shelves. Consumer Reports says many retailers and carriers are still selling the Note 7.