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Samsung products find their way back following reputational hit

Refurbished Note 7 sold out, smart TVs face consumer claims

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics, which suffered a serious blow to its reputation when defective smartphones had to be withdrawn last year, seems to have found its way back into the market, with the company reporting that it had sold out of its stock of 400,000 revamped Galaxy Note devices in its home country of South Korea, less than two months since they were relaunched in early July.

The technology conglomerate released the Galaxy Note FE with a new battery pack to replace the ones that had caught fire in the Note 7, at 699,600 won ($623), about two-thirds the price of the previous model. Consumers rushed to buy the "unique" handset, which is relatively cheap considering its specifications, according to the telecom companies that sell it.

"Note FE's functions are as good as top-class models, while its price is not so expensive," said Kim Ju-hyun, a spokesman for SK Telecom, the nation's largest telecom company. "And the timing is also perfect because it is right before Note 8 is coming."

Samsung Electronics plans to launch its Note 8 smartphone later this month after unveiling it in New York last week. The company said that its latest flagship smartphone model fits comfortably in one hand and features the S Pen stylus, allowing users to better interact with their device and communicate in more personal ways.

However, the South Korean conglomerate is facing complaints from consumers in the U.K. over its 2017 MU Series televisions, which stopped working after a software upgrade. The Guardian newspaper reported last week that Samsung TV owners were furious after a software upgrade left their 1,400 pounds ($1,808) sets unusable.

The British paper said consumers were dismayed at the company's poor customer service, with no action being taken for a week after initial complaints were made. Samsung did not respond to the Nikkei Asian Review's request for comment on this matter.

Samsung's conflicts with customers come after its leader Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was last week sentenced to five years in prison by a Seoul district court for using 8.1 billion won in company funds to bribe a close aide of then-President Park Geun-hye to win her support for the merger of its two affiliates. Lee, 49, has appealed to a higher court, denying all charges.

Shares of Samsung Electronics edged up 0.35% to 2,324,000 won on Friday. The stocks rose 0.86% over the last three days, recovering from a 3.03% drop since the ruling on Aug. 25. The benchmark KOSPI dropped 0.23% to 2,357.69 on Friday, after falling 0.38% in the previous session.

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