Finland-based mobile handset manufacturer, Nokia, on Monday instituted a global product recall for three of its Nokia branded phone chargers models which are made by BYD Electronics of China, reportedly a key supplier for Nokia. Although said to be a "proactive, precautionary measure", Nokia's "exchange programme" has significantly damaged the global reputation of a company reputed to be "the world's largest mobile phone maker with an estimated 38 % global market share of all mobile devices", according to UK's Telegraph newspaper.
According to a statement by Nokia issued locally; "During a routine quality control process, Nokia identified a potential product quality issue with certain chargers manufactured by one of its third-party suppliers. The plastic covers of the affected chargers could come loose and separate, exposing the charger’s internal components and potentially posing an electrical shock hazard if certain internal components are touched while the charger is plugged into a live socket. This is a precautionary announcement. Nokia is not aware of any incidents or injuries related to these chargers.
Only a limited number of chargers of certain model types manufactured by a single third-party supplier during a specific time period are within the scope of the exchange program.
They are the AC-3E and AC-3U models, manufactured between June 15, 2009 and August 9, 2009; and the AC-4U model, manufactured between April 13, 2009 and October 25, 2009. However, Nokia chargers purchased through authorised distributors in Sri Lanka are not impacted".
The terms of the product recall further indicate a free replacement for the charger models outlined above, a cost reportedly borne by BYD. Further noteworthy is that India's Business Standard and Economic Times newspapers have reported that the recall will affect phone chargers for the Nokia N7210 model sold in that country.
Additionally, the Sunday Times FT's queries to Nokia about the number of Nokia chargers available in the local market and the number of these chargers manufactured by BYD were not satisfactorily answered. Responding, Moutushi Kabir, Communications Manager of Nokia EA Limited (the Bangladesh-based unit that overseas multiple South Asian countries, including Sri Lanka), indicated that the number of Nokia chargers in total in Sri Lanka could not be disclosed as this was "commercially sensitive information".
Also, regarding the number of chargers manufactured by BYD which are available locally, the response was that "Nokia follows a multi supplier sourcing policy and we cannot disclose the number of chargers manufactured by a particular supplier". Mr. Kabir did however state that "[globally] approximately 14 Million chargers are within the scope of this exchange programme".
When asked what steps were taken to notify potentially affected consumers, Mr. Kabir indicated that a website (http://chargerexchange.nokia.com) had been set up with information pertaining to the "exchange programme" and how affected chargers could be identified. He also stated that "Nokia has issued a global press release and each market has also issued a press release with locally relevant information in both English and vernacular languages.
Depending on the size of the impact in each market, appropriate communications channels are being utilised". In addition, Care Centres and Distribution and Retail Partners had been briefed, according to Mr. Kabir, thus allowing them to be "equipped to handle all consumer queries and assist consumers if they fall under the exchange programme". Concerned customers have also been instructed to contact "any of the four Nokia Care Centres, located in No. 230/1, Galle Road, Colombo 04; No. 36, Pavilion Bldg, Gamini Mawatha, Galle; No. 91, D.S. Senanayaka Veediya, Kandy and No. 21, 1st Floor, New Shopping Complex, Kurunegala;
Meanwhile, according to a Monday report in UK's Times newspaper, this was "the second recall in as many years for Nokia. In 2007, the company replaced 46 million batteries after components, supplied by Matsushita, the Japanese company, were found to overheat... Today's recall is one of the biggest in history".
In addition, Reuters reported that "defective chargers were not sold in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Chile, China and New Zealand" while the Telegraph had also reported that affected chargers were sold in North and South America and Europe.