AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile halt Samsung Note 7 sales and exchanges

ABC NEWS -- AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have stopped providing new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to customers as part of an exchange program, amid a handful of claims that the replacement devices were smoking, catching fire or exploding.

The replacements were rolled out on Sept. 21, following a government recall, as substitutes to Note 7 phones that had been on sale since August 19th and were found to have a defect that caused them to smoke and in some cases catch fire.

While Samsung apologized and provided the replacements after a public furor over the Note 7, at least three cases have surfaced in recent weeks of phone owners claiming their replacement devices had overheated, melted or caught fire.

AT&T issued a statement on Sunday saying that it would no longer provide replacement Note 7 phones, “pending further investigation of these reported incidents.” The company said it was still encouraging owners of the recalled phones to bring their devices in for a replacement for another phone model.

T-Mobile followed later that day, saying: “While Samsung investigates multiple reports of issues, T-Mobile is temporarily suspending all sales of the new Note7 and exchanges for replacement Note7 devices.”

Late on Sunday, a spokeswoman for Verizon said that it too was suspending sales and exchanges for replacement Note 7 phones. The spokeswoman said that customers could still replace their phones with another device.

Meanwhile, a Sprint spokeswoman said that it was working with Samsung to “better understand the most recent concerns,” with the replacement devices and noted that customers could exchange their replacement Note 7 for “any other device.”

The announcements come after yet another scare reportedly involving the device. The cabin on a a flight bound for Baltimore from Louisville was evacuated on Wednesday shortly before takeoff after it filled with smoke reportedly coming from a Samsung phone, which the owner said was a replacement Note 7, ABC News reported.

The owner, Brian Green, provided ABC News with photos and an identifier number that supported his claim.

While the local fire department took possession of the device, both Samsung and the Consumer Product Safety Commission -- the government agency that sanctioned the recall -- sought custody of it.

Immediately following the incident, Samsung told ABC News that it could not confirm that the phone onboard the plane was a Note 7 model.

Louisville Metro Arson later told ABC News that the CPSC took possession of the phone. CPSC told ABC News that it was conducting an “active and ongoing investigation,” and that they could not provide further details. Samsung said they had nothing new to share.

On Friday, a teenager in Farmington, Minnesota said a replacement Note7 began burning and melting while in her hand.

ABC News affiliate KTSP spoke to the teenager, Abby Zuis, who said she suffered minor burns when the phone began overheating while she waited to pick up her siblings at school.

Video from KTSP shows the phone with significant burn damage.

Zuis’s father, Andrew, spoke to ABC News and provided evidence that suggested the phone was indeed a replacement.

In response to that incident, Samsung said that it was engaging with the Zuis family and sought to reassure customers that safety was its highest priority.

Since then, two new cases have emerged.

In one incident in Kentucky, a man named Michael Klering reported waking in the middle of the night on Tuesday to hissing sounds and finding his bedroom full of smoke from his Note7 phone.

He told ABC News that the device was a replacement and that it was not charging at the time, but was powered on.

“When we woke up the whole room was full of smoke,” he said, adding that a small flame was coming out of the device at one point.

In a separate incident, a man in Virginia told ABC News that he was awoke in the middle of the night on Sunday by loud noises coming from his replacement Note 7 device.

Shawn Minter said he found the device smoking on the nightstand before it burst into a flash of flames, filling the room with white, smelly smoke and making a sizzling sound.

Minter, who was in the room with his wife and 8-month-old son at the time, said it took an hour for the phone to cool down, as it continued to make a sizzling sound.

Both Klering and Minter provided ABC News with receipts that appeared to back up their claims that the phones were replacements.

The CPSC told ABC News that it is looking into all the cases.

Asked about the incidents, a Samsung spokesperson said that the company was “working diligently with authorities and third party experts and will share findings when we have completed the investigation.

“Even though there are a limited number of reports, we want to reassure customers that we are taking every report seriously. If we determine a product safety issue exists, Samsung will take immediate steps approved by the CPSC to resolve the situation,” the spokesperson continued.

Samsung did not immediately return ABC News’s request for information and comment on the AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile announcements.

ABC News’ Daniel Steinberger and Matthew Rosenbaum contributed to this report.


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