Verizon Blocks Voice Calls for Samsung Note 7 Users

John Lister's picture

Verizon has picked a creative way of making owners of the Galaxy Note 7 return the potentially dangerous handset. It's going to reroute outgoing voice calls and make users speak to its staff instead.

It's the latest in a series of attempts to make sure all of the handsets are returned to Samsung. The company formally recalled the phone after multiple reports of overheating and even catching fire, something that's widely thought to be related to the battery design.

Users Holding Out on Returns

An original program asking owners to return the handset and offering a full refund had got 93 percent of the phones back by last month. At that stage, Samsung produced a software update that stops the phone from recharging, the idea being to make it effectively useless.

Verizon caused controversy by initially refusing to send the update out to its customers, saying it didn't want to risk users being unexpectedly unable to use a phone they relied on during the holiday season. It later backtracked on that decision and issued the update.

The problem is that according to Verizon, "thousands" of its customers are still using the phone, despite the safety warning. That suggests they deliberately found a way to block the update. One theory is that some users are so happy with the phone's performance and specifications that they aren't willing to give it up, even with the safety risks. (Source:

Verizon and Samsung are thought to be desperate to get all the phones back, partly out of concern for people's safety and partly because of the risk of liability issues if any more phones overheat.

Emergency Calls Will Still Get Through

To try to further that aim, Verizon now says that whenever its network identifies an outgoing voice call as coming from a Note 7, it won't connect the call unless it is to 911. All other calls will instead be forwarded to its customer service center where staff will explain what has happened and urge the user to return the handset. (Source:

If that doesn't work, Verizon has another trick up its sleeve. It says that if necessary it will put a charge on the customer's bill equivalent to the full retail price of the handset and won't remove this charge until the phone is returned.

What's Your Opinion?

Is this likely to be an effective tactic or will some users be OK with not making voice calls? How far should Verizon and Samsung go to make sure the phones come back? Is there a point when they should give up or is the risk of liability too great?

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Dennis Faas's picture

If Verizon is going to block voice phone calls, I don't see why they didn't block the data and texting as well. I rarely ever make a phone call on my Samsung S6 Edge - I prefer texting, as it's way more convenient to receive a text and then respond when you're not busy. This is especially useful for the type of work I do. Phone calls, on the other hand, make it very difficult for me to work and talk at the same time. With all that aside, why anyone would want to keep their Galaxy Note 7 even after it's been made very clear that that phone can explode is beyond me.

Jim's picture

"[Verizon] will put a charge on the customer's bill equivalent to the full retail price of the handset and won't remove this charge until the phone is returned."

WTF? How can they put a charge on the bill for a phone they've already paid for? I understand their desire to recall all the phones, but that's getting too heavy-handed (if not outright illegal).

Navy vet's picture

Verizon should stop playing around and disable the phones completely. That's the only way these idiots will learn. And put a cutoff date on the refund and free replacement.

matt_2058's picture

I think it's a bad idea to add a charge to someone's bill. How many of those charges are going to be (rightfully) ignored, then reported to credit rating agencies? Fighting an erroneous entry in a credit report is a lengthy process, time consuming, and very frustrating.

When it comes to safety recalls like this, positive contact should be required when possible for the owner to waive liability if they do not submit the device for resolution. The company can only do so much to warn the consumer. At the same time, I don't think media, whether traditional or social, can satisfy warning the consumer. All carriers have the ability to make positive contact with the owner of a device and disable it if the situation warrants.

They've been warned. Let the hold-outs be liable for injuries of nearby person(s) when that thing catches fire or explodes. Enough is enough with stupidity.

guitardogg's picture

If this was something that just affected the user of the phone, that would be one thing, but this could potentially bring down an airplane. Most airlines have banned that phone, but it's not like they search anyone. Shut them down for everything except 911 calls, and give them a fixed deadline for refunds. Any hey Samsung, how about better testing so this kind of thing doesn't happen again!!

ronangel1's picture

There is one thing that seems to have been missed out here which is if the phone is taken out of the USA and maybe jailbroken and used on another network what can samsung do?This happens to stolen phones in the UK they are blocked on all UK networks unblocking is (criminal offence)(Felony) so taken and used in third world countries.