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Samsung’s phones are exploding? Here’s how I’d spark a recall

Samsung is having difficulty convincing approximately 5,000 Canadians to turn in their Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones.

The phones are subject to a global recall because, since the Galaxy Note 7 was released in August, an issue with the devices' lithium-ion batteries has caused a number of them to explode, catch fire or explosively catch fire.

There have been close to a hundred confirmed reports of smouldering phones in the U.S alone.

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Giving my people the benefit of the doubt, 5,000 Canadians are being stoic about this burning possibility.

Perhaps it's because winter is coming. You say "Fire!" to a Canadian in September and a fair number of us are conditioned to see Aran sweaters and some kind of chicken-and-cheese dish lovingly prepared from a recipe furtively ripped from the pages of a Canadian Living magazine at the dentist's office.

For many of us, "Fire!" conjures up the back cover of Songs of Leonard Cohen, which was always my parents' sexiest album cover.

Most of us appreciate the flashlight feature on our phones, and some of us are reluctant to reject a phone that might also have a lighter.

"Listen, Gadget Daniel Boone," I thought, as I heard the airline attendant on my flight home to Toronto last week gently plead with anyone who was carrying, or worse still had checked, a Galaxy Note 7 to alert a crew member before take-off, "don't be a folk hero about this, fork over the phone."

Between Aug. 19 and Sept. 1, 22,000 of these touchscreen tinder boxes were sold in Canada and so far only 17,000 Canadians have dutifully followed Samsung's simple instructions and registered to receive a new, admittedly less exciting, device, one that is already available.

The company is now imploring the holdouts, via forced software updates, to do the right thing and turn in their remarkably hand-grenade-like phones and I have sympathy for the company. This might be partly because I spent some time a few weeks ago trying to get my mother to stop using her potentially incendiary tablet.

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"It gets very, very hot," she said casually the other day when I was at my parents' house for lunch. My mum sounded more interested than alarmed. It's like she has her own personal Weather Channel, something she'd really appreciate.

Indeed, over time, she said, her tablet is heating up so much that it eventually becomes scalding to touch, at which point, she said brightly, she just puts it in the freezer for a while until it cools down.

My dad seemed appreciative of her level-headedness on the matter. He was clearly proud of her pioneer spirit.

They are playing Little Personal Device on the Prairie.

"Isn't it almost new and still under warranty?" my also-visiting brother said, in unalarmist alarm. "You really should return it and get a new one," he suggested.

"But it still works!" my mum said. "Once it's had some time to chill."

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My brother and I offered to give them a brand-new one; they just had to say the word.

We were, at that moment, a two-person South Korean multinational conglomerate attempting to handle a potential crisis. We were just trying to get through a difficult period without anyone catching fire.

My mother's argument was, however, that she likes the tablet she has, the one nestled beside the yogurt containers full of frozen tomato soup and the homemade ginger ice cream.

There's reason to believe that people are holding on to their Galaxy Note 7 phones for the same reason; they like the phone, which was very well reviewed and received right up until the point it started ungratefully setting people's Jeeps on fire and the like.

Perhaps we cling to our pocket kindling because, for some of us, a phone that might literally explode is a more realized version of the devices we've carried around with us for years now. The Galaxy Note 7 is just the newest version of all those phones that have often metaphorically threatened to blow up, or heat up, our lives at any moment.

Canadian Note 7 owners were not among those sent an update that only allows the phones to be charged up to 60 per cent. We're being trusted to do the right thing, but politely worded versions of "She's going to blow!" having failed, here are a few more messages and "features" that Samsung might want to look into.

Alright, Samsung, try a notification that might get the average Canadian's attention. Go with something like, "You know what makes Tim from accounting such a complete jackass? This phone. This phone is what makes Tim from accounting such a complete jackass."

Don't forget to reach out to your younger users. Try, "Hey, kid, ever wonder if your parents have seen your browsing history? Well, they have now!"

If overt pressure doesn't work, try something a bit more subtle. Without warning – look, no one will blame you for leaving something out of the patch notes in the midst of the Great Exploding Phone Crisis of 2016 – push out an update that causes Note 7 users' alarms to occasionally (just occasionally, because they do seem to crave drama) go off an hour later or earlier than the time for which they've been set.

Next, try this 2 a.m. text, "Did you mean to start a video call with your ex? Of course not, but we did it anyway! Still love this phone, dickweed?"

If that fails, go with, "Please select which line from Love Actually you would like as your new ringtone," or consider, "We've just spammed all your contacts with invitations to LinkedIn and now they hate you. Nah, that was LinkedIn, we can't take credit for that, but, seriously, you should still trade in this phone, it's going to explode." Try some new A/B testing: Send half of your Galaxy Note 7 hoarders this message, "Good morning, we have just sent your phone number to Anthony Weiner." The other half get, "Good morning, your only emoji is eggplant."

See who turns in their phone fastest.

Send out a pop-up message, "An update is available. No, not for your phone, you flammable-phone-carrying idiot, but here's how that last episode of Mr. Robot you recorded but haven't watched yet ends…" and good luck on your recall mission, Samsung.

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