Well, my Note 7 saga seems to be done with. We bought two of them on August 19. After the first recall we exchanged them for the new ‘safe’ replacements on September 26. After the second recall we returned them on October 14 and replaced them with two S7 Edge phones because I expect they will not give Note 7 owners any option to continue using them, support will stop, and there will probably be system update to cripple or disable all the Note 7’s still in the wild at some point. The next day the FAA officially banned them from all airlines. The second recall process was easier and took less time, both because I new more what to expect and that Verizon had streamlined some of the paperwork process for staff this time around. My original post about the first recall process follows…

So, We bought a couple Note 7s on launch day, August 19 at Costco. That process took over 2 hours of waiting and paperwork. A couple weeks later the news hit about battery problems and Samsung announced a recall. We received a letter from Samsung that US retailers would have stock to do an exchange no later than September 21. So we went into Costco on the 21st, and no stock. We’re told it will be an extra couple days because Costco has to ship them to stores from the warehouse and they will have it on the 23rd. On the 23rd, still no stock and we’re told to come back on the 26th after noon. We get there on the 26th before 12:30 and still no stock, but it’s expected any moment, so we go have a hotdog and come back about 1pm. They confirm they received them and they just have to get the inventory checked in, a guy named Tony is aware we are waiting and expediting. Fast forward through about 90 minutes of waiting, we’re told they are ready and paperwork begins.

They make me do all the paperwork again that I did the first time, new financing papers, all the Verizon account papers, then take some papers and get in line to pay the sales tax on the new phones (we paid sales tax the first time but have to pay it again then get refunded later.) Finally we get to open the boxes and start copying content from the old phones to the new, the Samsung Smart Switch app is supposed to basically copy everything. After about 20 minutes of copying via USB cable, I erase the old phones and take more paperwork to get in line for the returns desk. All the paperwork and hardware changing has brought us to 4pm. After 20 minutes in line and 30 min at the desk, I have finally exchanged the old phones for a refund of the sales tax on the new ones. (They had numerous problems with the paperwork, wrong product numbers and general confusion, plus tried to insist that they could only refund me the sales tax as store credit.)

After the 45 minute return/refund process it’s back to the kiosk to pick up the new phones and final paperwork, which puts us going out the door at 5pm. A total 4.5+ hours to exchange 2 phones for a manufacturer recall. Now the real work begins, restoring all the phone apps and data. It turns out the Samsung Smart Switch app isn’t so smart, and does NOT copy and restore app data, so all the apps are as if they are freshly installed and no accounts are configured at all. Also for security reasons, apps like Samsung Pay need to be set up again, all credit cards have to be re-added and banks called for authorization etc. Normally I would have the old phone available to export/import settings or at least compare side by side to manually enter settings, but there just is no time to do that in the store and I don’t get to keep the old phone so I know I’ll be working on details for days to get settings back to they way I want them.

The first chance I had, I called Verizon to make sure all this double paperwork I did is really the way it was supposed to happen, and make sure nothing is screwed up with the financing or service plan dates. Costco didn’t have any information about any compensation for all this hassle and said to talk to Verizon about the $25 that Samsung mentioned for our inconvenience. Not that $25 even comes close to paying for the hours today and days ahead of making these phones usable again. Most of the misery today I think is due to Costco policies, the poor staff in the kiosk certainly didn’t want to do all this work, when just swapping SIM cards and updating the serial number in the account should have been enough.

Talking to Verizon it turns out that yes, all that paperwork is actually necessary, the Note 7 exchange process really requires purchasing a new phone and all the details that comes with and more. Then they process a return/refund for the recalled phone and refund the sales tax. I’m assured that all the contract dates will remain the same, despite having to sign all new contracts with new dates. The explanation is that they have to do it this way because the financing and any insurance is tied to the serial number of the original phone. I’m certainly not an expert on their process and legal requirements but it sure seems easier to me to just update the serial number than do all this redundant paperwork and special-case the dates for everything, especially when the paperwork takes 2-3 hours per customer. I did get Verizon to apply two $25 credits to the account balance, they readily did that.

Two days later I have pretty much everything back to normal on the phone configurations. I think the only thing I lost was a PowerAmp playlist I didn’t think to export beforehand, so no major fallout for the whole experience other than several hours invested. The OS update shows the green battery icon indicating it’s a “safe” Note 7, although I’m not sure how easy it would be to convince airline staff or whoever wants to ban Note 7’s. Somewhat alarmingly, since the phone was at about 20% when I first got it home I plugged into the included fast charger USB C cable and though it did charge to 70% in about 30 min, it was extremely hot to the touch, not just warm, but actually too hot to hold for more than a few seconds comfortably. Much hotter than my original phone got. I unplugged at 70% rather than keep it charging and haven’t used the USB C again yet, I normally prefer wireless charging, which seems to charge fine without nearly as much heat. I hope it doesn’t turn out these replacement phones also have issues.

I hear in France they just get mailed a replacement Note 7 with a prepaid mailer to return the old one and are given a free Gear VR for their trouble. In the US I have to waste half a day then spend another couple days reconstructing my settings.

Damn good thing it’s an awesome phone.