Earlier today, the LG Spyder 830 cell phone was recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which said it presented a hazard to the public because it doesn’t hold a connection and has poor voice quality during 911 emergency calls. The recall stems from a report of a trapped motorist who tried reaching 911 from a disabled car but whose call was dropped because the network couldn’t establish a signal. That person, thankfully, turned out to be uninjured. The commission has ordered the removal of some 30,000 LG Spyder 830 phones that were sold in nine different states.
Phone recalls are not common, but connection problems are more than a blue-moon nuisance, as Om recently noted when he quit his iPhone due to At&T’s service. This recall is a reminder that we need better communications standards and oversight on safety features from both phone manufacturers and telecoms.
Released last year, the LG 830 is a phone whose best feature is the use of a dual slider keypad and a responsive touch screen. It has GPS, EV-DO, and most reviews noted its good voice quality. A software error in versions T83LGV03 and T83LGV04 caused the problems that led to the recall, LG told us via email, adding that the issue “does not pertain to LG 830 models on the US Cellular or Alltel networks.” But more than six hours after the CPSC issued the recall, LG had not posted anything about it on the public notice page on its web site, nor had it issued a press release, and most of its customer service operators, when we called to confirm the recall, had no idea about this issue. (A few weeks ago, LG’s Canadian division was ordered to recall 250,000 LG 150 phones due to radiation concerns.)
We’re often blinded by the next great media-centered feature set and fail to demand the most basic but important functions, like improved security monitoring systems. Of course, it doesn’t help when certain government agencies fail to push stronger standards, such as two years ago, when a study that showed E-911 services were not as reliable as expected was dumped by the FCC for no apparent reason.
Granted, there are other issues that hamper emergency lines, like network coverage density. Regardless, we need greater transparency and more efficient forms of communication between companies and their customers. For example, there was no immediate Twitter announcement from the company and no gentle-but-insistent flash on the product’s page.
This needs to change, because next time, someone might actually get hurt.
– Follow Jose Fermoso on Twitter at twitter.com/fermoso