FedEx, UPS Add Samsung Return Guidelines After Royal Mail Ban

  • Samsung offers fireproof box to pack smartphone for recall
  • Postal services in U.S. won’t transport Galaxy Note 7 by air

Samsung Trims Profit by $2.3 Billion on Troubled Note 7

FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc., two major delivery services in the U.S., added guidelines for returning Samsung Electronics Co.’s fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to the manufacturer through their networks.

First, they will only take devices that have been packed into special boxes equipped to handle shipments of faulty lithium-ion batteries and returns will be handled by ground-shipping only. Neither FedEx nor UPS will move any of the devices via planes, hewing to guidelines set out by federal regulators prohibiting air shipments for recalled lithium battery products -- even for phones that aren’t covered by the existing recall. The restrictions fall short of the outright ban instituted by the U.K.’s main postal service.

“With Samsung discontinuing sales of its replacement Galaxy Note 7, FedEx has taken additional steps to ensure our priority on safety,” Jim McCluskey, a FedEx spokesman, said in a statement Wednesday. “FedEx Express is no longer accepting any Galaxy Note 7 devices, including those from authorized distributors.”

FedEx Express, the air shipment unit, is the world’s largest cargo airline. The shipping company’s FedEx Ground division, which transports packages in North America primarily by truck, will accept new or used Note 7 devices, but only from mobile phone retail locations in the contiguous 48 states. 

Note 7 owners must wait to receive packaging that meets regulatory guidelines before either FedEx or UPS will take them. Samsung and Verizon Communications Inc. said they’re providing customers in the U.S. with these fireproof prepaid delivery packages, which the U.S. Department of Transportation has approved. Even then, FedEx Ground won’t accept phones from individual customers or from any other type of store, including those with FedEx counters or drop boxes.

Customers can also return the phones in person to their wireless carrier. Samsung said in a statement it also offers the option for customers to schedule a pick-up.

The U.K.’s Royal Mail Plc said earlier it would ban Note 7 shipments entirely. Customers sending packages through the mail or via Royal Mail’s Parcelforce courier service will be asked to detail what’s inside, to prevent faulty products from slipping into delivery vans, the London-based mail carrier said in an e-mailed statement.

The decision by Royal Mail hampers compliance with Samsung’s global recall of all Note 7s following repeated reports of the smartphones catching fire. The South Korean manufacturer said in a statement that it’s arranging home collections using UK Mail Group Plc, the delivery service German carrier Deutsche Post AG agreed to buy in September. However, this applies only to customers who bought a device in the U.K. from Samsung’s online store.

Deutsche Post’s DHL parcel service in Germany is still transporting the devices following a suspension of a few days in late September while it sought clarification from Samsung on ways to maintain safety rules, Dirk Klasen, a spokesman in Bonn, said by phone.

Samsung has yet to issue any information about the cause of the latest incidents with its flagship Note 7 phone. Government investigators believe that a separate problem may have caused the overheating of the devices delivered as replacements for the recalled version, a person said. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Samsung have not agreed to expand the initial recall of the first Note 7 batch announced last month.

The company said that a thorough investigation takes time, and it would be premature to speculate on the outcome. Samsung said it has a process to safely dispose of the phones after receiving them that is in accordance with government regulations, without providing specifics.

Samsung cut its projection for third-quarter operating profit by $2.3 billion on Wednesday after deciding to end Note 7 production this week.

— With assistance by Nate Lanxon, Alan Levin, and Scott Moritz

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