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Galaxy Note 7 when smuggling puts your life in danger

Galaxy Note 7 – when smuggling puts your life in danger

The smuggling of goods poses a big threat to Pakistan’s economy. Keeping aside losses to the national exchequer, this time around, there is a graver threat — harm to human lives and property.

The arrival of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in Pakistan via grey channels – at a time when the manufacturer has stopped its sale across the globe after incidences of battery catching fire – has put lives and properties of people in danger.

According to reports, Samsung has received 92 complaints of battery overheating in the US, including 26 cases of burning and 55 of property damage such as eruption of fire in cars and a garage.

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The number of such accidents could be higher than reports suggest as some cases may have surfaced outside the US and some may have not been reported.

Samsung has suspended sales of the smartphone and recalled 2.5 million sets in South Korea, the US and other countries to replace them.

The problem has wiped billions of dollars off market value of the company, which tried to pre-empt rival Apple by launching the phone on August 19, almost a month ahead of the competitor.

But what about phones that have reached the hands of people in Pakistan via grey market. They may continue to pose risks to the lives and properties of consumers as smuggled phones are not entitled to the replacement scheme.

However, no incident of battery fire has so far surfaced in the country.

In a statement on its website, Samsung Electronics Limited said, “In Pakistan, we are yet to launch Galaxy Note 7 and have recently closed pre-orders. As we commit to producing the highest quality products, delivery of the Galaxy Note 7 will be delayed.”

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Ayaz Mirza at Green Tech, one of the three official distributors of Samsung phones in Pakistan, revealed that the South Korean phone manufacturer had stopped them from selling Galaxy Note 7 stock in Pakistan.

He, however, shared that the faulty phones were widely available at unauthorised outlets nationwide.

Karachi Electronic Dealers Association (Keda) President Muhammad Rizwan Irfan said the smartphone was attracting a significant number of buyers every day.

The smuggled Galaxy Note 7, which comes via Dubai, has been on sale in Pakistan since its launch in South Korea and the US in late August 2016. Most buyers are not aware that the phone carries such risks.

No action taken

Some officials have approached the telecom regulator – Pakistan Telecommunication Authority – which enjoys powers to conduct raids and seize the cellphones being sold illegally and without its approval anywhere in the country.

They have also informed Pakistan Customs and the Federal Investigation Agency, which are responsible for preventing smuggling, about the presence of illegal, and more importantly, risk-carrying phones in the market.

However, no authority has sprung into action to remove the risky phones from the market.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is the one organisation that has taken precautionary measures. After learning what international airlines are doing to cope with the risks posed by Galaxy Note 7, it has asked the passengers not to carry the smartphone during travel and not even keep it in their luggage to avoid the threat of fire.

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“Samsung has a 40% market share {in the phone segment} in Pakistan and the share extends to 60% if smuggled cellphones are taken into account,” Mirza said.

With this huge market share, the probability of harm to human health and property from Galaxy Note 7 remains on the higher side.

Irrespective of the brand, a former president of Keda said, almost 60% of mobile phones available at retail outlets across the country were smuggled sets. The reason behind the rampant smuggling is high taxes on imports.

The Express Tribune approached Samsung Electronics via email to seek its advice for people in Pakistan who have bought the smuggled smartphone or phones without warranty. However, it did not respond until the filing of this report.



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