Exclusive: Thousands of Verizon Customers Won’t Turn in Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Phones
Some people must still really, really love their Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones—despite the device’s flawed and dangerous design, which can cause the battery to catch fire.
Verizon tells Fortune exclusively that “thousands” of its customers are still using the Note 7–even after the carrier issued a software upgrade a few weeks ago that was supposed to kill the phone and stop it from being able to recharge. Nevertheless, it’s a tiny fraction of Verizon’s 114 million wireless subscribers.
The holdout Note 7 lovers somehow avoided the killer upgrade and are still using their relatively dangerous smartphones, much to Verizon’s dismay, the carrier says.
“In spite of our best efforts, there are still customers using the recalled phones who have not returned or exchanged their Note 7 to the point of purchase,” a Verizon spokeswoman tells Fortune. “The recalled Note 7s pose a safety risk to our customers and those around them.”
Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.
So now Verizon (VZ) is going to go even further, putting the phones in a special category so that all outgoing calls not directed toward the 911 emergency service will only connect to customer service. Because Note 7 users have also already been reimbursed for the cost of the long-since recalled Note 7, Verizon is also saying it might bill the holdouts for the full retail cost of the phone.
Samsung and wireless carriers first asked Note 7 owners to turn in their phones back in September after reports of dozens of fires, and most customers did. Samsung said early last month that it had collected 93% of all U.S. Note 7 phones. To get the remainder out of service, Samsung and carriers like Verizon agreed to distribute a killer software update over the past few weeks that was supposed to stop the phones from connecting to wireless networks or recharging. Yet, some users seem to have avoided the update.
Samsung is expected to announce the results of its investigation into the cause of the Note 7 battery flaw later this month. The company is also likely to explain how it will prevent future products, like the upcoming Galaxy S8, from encountering similar problems.
Verizon customers who turn in a Note 7 are still eligible for a bill credit of up to $100 and a waived upgrade fee, the carrier says.