The end of the line came for Samsung’s fiery (literally) Galaxy Note 7 phone this week. The company has killed off the phone for good, but there are still several million of them out there worldwide, in warehouses, stores’ back rooms, and consumers’ hands, and getting them back safely is an… interesting logistical challenge.
One of the issues consumers were encountering with the recall had to do with shipping: in short, they couldn’t.
Customers were being asked to take their recalled phones back to physical, bricks-and-mortar retailers whenever possible because, in part, shipping companies couldn’t or wouldn’t take shipments of recalled batteries. At the time, FedEx told us that Note 7 shipments would only be accepted from authorized distributors and retailers, not from individuals. The USPS similarly told us that while it could accept shipments, they couldn’t travel internationally, could only travel by ground, and had to be boxed up in a certain way.
But those phones still all have to get back to Samsung, and that has to include devices in the hands of customers who bought online or who can’t get back to retail locations. And that requires very, very specialized packaging.
The packaging Samsung’s sending involves at least four layers: a static bag, two boxes, and another, outer, thermally-protective box. And even with all that, you still can’t send it in the air; it can only travel via ground transit. It even comes with safety gloves to use so that all this fancy packaging doesn’t irritate your skin when you pack up your phone.
The folks over at Android-focused site XDA developers made a box-unboxing video, when they got their shipping instructions, to show just how many layers we’re talking about here:
You’ll still have to send your phone through the Post Office, though; FedEx won’t take it. When reached for comment, a FedEx representative told Consumerist, “FedEx Express [air] is no longer accepting any Galaxy Note 7 devices, including those from authorized distributors. FedEx Ground will accept new or used devices, but only from mobile phone retail locations in the contiguous 48 states; only in packaging that meets strict regulatory guidelines; and not from individual customers or through retail outlets, including drop boxes, that accept FedEx packages.”
UPS, for its part, directed us and all customers to this website, which doesn’t say it bans individual customers from shipping back their Note 7 phones, but does say that you need to use Samsung’s special fireproof boxes and can only ship ground.
In the meantime, fireproof boxes are only one of the many problems Samsung continues to face in the wake of the Note 7 debacle. The biggest problem? The company still doesn’t know why the phones exploded in the first place.
As the New York Times reports, Samsung sicced whole teams of engineers and testers on the “oh crap why is our phone flammable” problem when it first surfaced, but to no avail. The hundreds of employees working on the problem could not actually reproduce the issue in-house.
The engineers tasked with solving it at first suspected the battery was at fault, which is what led Samsung to decide that phones including batteries made in a different plant were likely to be safe. Unfortunately, they were wrong.
In the meantime, as you would guess, Samsung’s reputation — and publicly traded stock — are taking a serious beating. Even before production of the Note 7 ceased, the NYT reports, shares in Samsung had dropped by 8% and the company was out an estimated $17 billion in value.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.