EE customers have been told to stop using the firm's portable mobile 'power bar' chargers immediately and return them to stores, amid concerns they could overheat and cause a fire safety risk.
The mobile giant today announced it's recalling every EE power bar – more than a million in total – as a "precaution". It says the alert, which follows the recall of a specific batch of power bars earlier this year, was after a "very small number of further incidents where power bars have overheated".
EE is sending out text messages to everyone who registered to get a code for the 'free' power bar – a £20 device given to customers after it closed its popular 'Orange Wednesday' 2for1 cinema deal. It says the power bars should be unplugged from phones, tablets or mains sockets at once.
It's asked customers to return their power bars to their nearest EE store as soon as possible, where they'll receive a free £20 EE voucher to spend online on accessories by 28 February 2016.
There's no word yet on whether you'll be able to get a replacement power bar in due course – EE says it is "fully focused on the recall" at present.
If you can't get to a store, EE says you should call its information line on 0800 079 0305 where it'll give you details of what you need to do.
A troubled 'freebie' giveaway
Since EE unveiled its power bar promotion earlier this year, it's had to pause the offer twice due to "unprecedented demand".
It's also faced a backlash from customers who said they felt duped by the offer – while the marketing made it look like a total freebie, legally the chargers are issued under a free 18-month hire agreement and its terms state that after the 18 months are up or if customers leave EE they must return the device or pay up to £5 extra on their bill.
Here's a timeline of events:
14 April 2015: EE announces all mobile and broadband customers, including Orange and T-Mobile users, will be able to get a 'free' power bar to charge up their phones without having to be connected to mains electricity. They just have to send a 35p text to get the code.
20 April 2015: EE pauses the offer and stops issuing codes due to an "unprecedented response", with more than one million requests for codes in just over four days.
24 June 2015: EE resumes the power bar offer – customers with codes can collect their power bars in store.
30 June 2015: We publish the 'Is the free EE power bar a con?' MSE news story after a number of users claim they feel duped by the offer involving a 'hire agreement'. As a result of public pressure, EE changes its terms and conditions to make it clearer.
17 July 2015: EE pauses the power bar offer for a second time, saying it has had over two million requests for the gadget since the deal launched in April. Customers are told they'll need to wait until August before they can get one.
5 August 2015: EE recalls a specific batch of power bars amid concerns they pose a fire safety risk.
Today: EE recalls all power bars and reveals there have been a "very small number of further incidents where power bars have overheated". It told us that two people had complained about their power bar overheating.
What does EE say?
An EE spokesperson says: "We're recalling all EE power bars. Customers with a power bar should stop using it and return it to one of our stores.
"We are taking this action because we are aware of a very small number of further incidents where power bars have overheated and this could cause a fire safety risk.
"We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause but customer safety is a priority and that’s why we’re taking this voluntary and precautionary action."