News, Culture & Society

ASK TONY: My mobile caught fire in the car – but Samsung blames me!

My Samsung phone was only a year old when it spontaneously caught fire in the footwell of my car.

I put it there after receiving a phone call (while stopped, of course), but as I drove off I noticed a strange smell.

I realised the device was on fire, and my first reaction was to throw it out of the window to stop the fire spreading. It was not plugged in at the time.

Fire the phone up: One reader says her Samsung phone had only caught fire due to an ‘external impact’, having possibly been run over by a car after it had been thrown out of the window

I bought it from Tesco, so I sent it to the firm’s repair team, but they told me there was nothing they could do. They suggested I contact Samsung as it was a public liability issue.

Following several emails, Samsung eventually told me the phone had only caught fire due to an ‘external impact’, having possibly been run over by a car after I had thrown it out of the window. I wouldn’t just throw my phone out of a window! Why would I do that?

P.O., Eastleigh.

Samsung is refusing to budge or take any responsibility. It says this was an isolated incident in which damage to the device was ‘a result of external reasons’ not related to your phone, a Galaxy J3.

It says the damage to the front panel indicates it was separated from the device prior to ignition. A spokesman says the firm ‘takes customer safety very seriously’.

Martyn Allen, technical director at Electrical Safety First, says: ‘While a sudden failure without some kind of impact is very unusual, it is possible for a smartphone battery to fail without being plugged in.’

He says the best way to avoid accidents with your smartphone is only to buy chargers direct from the manufacturer or a reputable retailer, and not to leave the device to charge overnight or on soft, flammable surfaces.

If there are any technical experts out there who want to inspect the phone, we would welcome a second opinion.

You have YOUR say 

A Money Mail article from December 18

A Money Mail article from December 18

Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some about savings accounts that pay a pittance.

If you still put your hard-earned money into a savings account you need to wake up. If you have time on your side, a low-cost global tracker is probably the best solution.

S. N., Manchester.

I, for one, am glad the banks are paying poor interest rates — it has forced me to stop and think about where I put my money. I invest what I used to save in cash Isas. Over time, the returns are far greater.

R. P., Bradford.

Premium Bonds are a good option if you buy at least £10,000 worth. They are handy for stashing cash away over a short time period and you can sell them online very quickly. The money will be back in your account within three days.

W. M., Winchester.

Some people who have money in savings accounts don’t put it there for the interest rates. We have about £2,000 in our bank’s saving account earmarked for a big purchase. We invest the rest and earn about 6 per cent each year.

S. J., by email.

When the banks cut interest rates to refill their own coffers, we assumed it was a temporary measure. Years later, the rates are still dropping. Pensioners who saved to supplement their income have been robbed.

C. B., Lancashire.

I started collecting gold bars 12 years ago. That was because I knew interest rates would not yo-yo. Overall, gold is a good investment. The best High Street rates I have found are on the Costco website!

B. P., Birmingham.

If you’re concerned, you should investigate what rates are on offer and be prepared to switch to an account which pays out more. If you don’t look after your money, it won’t look after itself.

J. J., Farnborough.

I joined the RAC breakdown service in September. In October I contacted them at around 9am as I had a puncture. By 11am they hadn’t come so I rang again and said I had to collect my granddaughter. They replied: ‘Can’t you send someone else for her?’ My neighbour came to help. I cancelled the call-out at 11.35am. I complained, but they responded that it was out of their control.

On November 4, my car broke down. I had my daughter and two-year-old granddaughter with me. It was a freezing evening and we had no heating as the car wouldn’t start.

We rang RAC a few times and said our phone was running out of battery, and we were in a rural area. No one came, and eventually they said it would be after midnight before they could get to us. Luckily a passing pick-up truck stopped and brought us and the car home — we paid him £30. I have written and received standard responses and since joined Green Flag.

ASK TONY: My mobile caught fire in the car - but Samsung blames me!

RAC has refused to refund me as the firm said I have used the service, even though on both occasions nobody came out.

D.B., by email.

What a shocking excuse for a service. You told RAC that you were with a two-year-old and it still couldn’t be bothered to prioritise your call. No wonder you cancelled your membership. To all intents and purposes, it was worthless.

RAC told me: ‘We’ve spoken to your reader and apologised for not providing the service we pride ourselves on. We have agreed to refund the cost of her membership and the recovery charge.’

That’s the least the firm should be doing. It should just be grateful nothing worse happened, as you were forced to accept the goodwill of a stranger late at night.

My son and I got a letter from Halifax in August saying we were entitled to a PPI payment, which would soon be received.

A cheque arrived in our joint names, but obviously we have never had a joint account.

I asked Halifax to make a payment in my name as my son now lives abroad. We sent a letter from him agreeing to this but have received no response.

C. S., Prestatyn.

Halifax’s PPI team has reviewed your case and apologises for the delay. As the loan was in your joint names the cheque was sent to both customers.

Halifax accepts it has taken too long to issue a new cheque and has provided you with a £50 goodwill gesture in addition to the £2,519 redress for PPI misselling.

A Halifax spokesman says: ‘As the joint loan was held in both names, we issued the PPI redress payment to both parties. We are sorry for the delay in providing a replacement cheque after Mrs S explained the circumstances.’  

Straight to the Point

On October 15, I paid the Pubshop Catalogue £110.82 for a set of knives for my grandson’s birthday (he is a chef). It said delivery would be one to five days, but after 14 days I got an email saying the product would be out of stock until December 12. I asked for a refund, which I was told would be forthcoming, but have heard nothing since.

G. S., Kent.

The Pubshop says you have now been refunded. It says the process was ongoing at the time you contacted us.

It has been months since I upgraded my mobile phone, yet every time I turn it on I get the same text messages from Vodafone welcoming me to my new contract. It’s so annoying — please can you help?

A.S., Co. Durham.

After weeks of back and forth, Vodafone has finally admitted that there was an issue with your handset, apologised and replaced it at no extra cost. It has also paid you £250 for the inconvenience caused.

My daughter and I tried to take advantage of Nationwide’s Recommend a Friend perk. After first opening a FlexDirect account I later went to a branch to downgrade to a free account when I discovered I would have to pay extra for travel insurance because I am over 70. Four months on, my daughter and I are yet to receive our £100 bonuses and I am still paying a £13 monthly fee.

R.H., Glasgow.

Nationwide says it never received your Recommend a Friend form and that because only one Direct Debit was set up, you never actually qualified for the bonus. However, it has apologised for the level of service you received and admits someone should have explained you weren’t eligible and your account should have been downgraded sooner. It has now paid you £150 in compensation and refunded £52 in fees.

My energy supplier sent me a letter threatening to cut me off because I owe money. SSE has now said my account is in arrears and wants me to pay £139 a month — £36 extra — to bring it up to date. This is extortionate — I live on my own.

G. S., Rotherham.

SSE says your account was originally set up with an estimated usage that was much lower than your actual consumption. You joined through a third-party switching site so it was unable to verify the accuracy of the estimate when you applied. It has now lowered the repayments to make them more affordable and apologised for the inconvenience. 

• Write to Tony Hazell at Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email — please include your daytime phone number, postal address and a separate note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given. 


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