A month after Samsung dropped the production of its Note7 flagship smartphones on Oct. 11, the company has run full-page ads in three major American newspapers, again apologizing for the problems the fire-prone devices caused for buyers, businesses and others.
The advertisements, which appeared in the print editions of The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal on Nov. 7, include the signature of Gregory Lee, the president and CEO of Samsung Electronics North America, who expressed apologies for the company falling short on its mission and promised to serve its customers with best-in-class safety and quality.
"For this, we are truly sorry," wrote Lee.
The publication of the special apology ads was reported in a Nov. 8 story by The Korea Herald.
Lee wrote in his open letter to customers that Samsung continues to work in collaboration with U.S. government agencies and industry partners to determine what went wrong with the Note7 phones so future problems can be prevented.
The Note7, which went on sale in late August and almost immediately was the subject of reports of battery fires and explosions, was completely dropped from sales and distribution on Oct. 11 by Samsung. Some 2.5 million Note7 handsets were recalled earlier by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) after more than 100 reports of fires and explosions from consumers were received following the release of the phones.
"A careful Note7 investigation is under way and the findings will be shared when the analysis is complete," wrote Lee in the newspaper ads. "The process will be thorough and include some of the best independent technical experts in the world to help inform and validate our work."
Samsung will "re-examine every aspect of the device, including all hardware, software, manufacturing and the overall battery structure," he wrote. "We will move as quickly as possible, but will take the time needed to get the right answers."
A safety problem, which Lee called a "rare problem" in the ads, has also been found in about 2.8 million Samsung top-loading consumer washing machines and has resulted in a voluntary recall through the CPSC, he wrote. "From free in-home repair to rebate, Samsung is moving quickly to offer our customers unprecedented remedy options that minimize disruption to their lives," he wrote. "Our service teams are visiting homes this week to help resolve concerns.
The washing machine recall comes at a tough time for Samsung, right after the Note7 smartphone recall, and just after the company on Oct. 27 reported third-quarter earnings that were hit hard by the Note7 debacle. The company's operating profit fell 30 percent to $4.6 billion (5.2 trillion Korean won, KRW) in the quarter, down from $6.4 billion (7.39 trillion KRW) a year ago.
The company's mobile division operating profit, particularly devastated by the Note7 failure, fell to $88 million (100 billion KRW) in the third quarter, down 96 percent from $2.09 billion (2.4 trillion KRW) in the third quarter of 2015. The company's mobile division revenue fell to 22.54 trillion KRW in the quarter from 26.61 trillion KRW a year earlier. Samsung's overall revenue for the third quarter of 47.82 trillion KRW dropped 7.47 percent from 51.68 trillion KRW in the same quarter in 2015.
Lee wrote that despite these incidents, "most importantly, safety remains our top priority" for Samsung. "We will listen to you, learn from this and act in a way that allows us to earn back your trust. We are grateful for your ongoing support and again, we are truly sorry."
So far, some 85 percent of Samsung's troubled Galaxy Note7 smartphones have been returned since a massive recall in September and October due to battery fires and explosions, but the company is still working to get the remaining phones returned from customers as soon as possible. To encourage the remaining Note7 owners to return the recalled phones, Samsung is releasing a software update that will cut the available charging capacity of the recalled handsets to 60 percent so they will have shorter battery lives.
Any Note7 customers who still have their original or replacement handsets that are affected by the defects continue to be told by Samsung and by the CPSC to power down their devices immediately and exchange them for another Samsung smartphone, including a Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge, or seek a full refund where they bought their devices. Consumers who have questions about what to do with their phones can go to the company's website at samsung.com/us/note7recall, or call the company at (844) 365-6197.