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Verizon may have 'thousands' of Note 7 phones still in use

To persuade people to stop using the recalled handset, the carrier plans to reroute all non-911 outgoing calls to its customer service reps.

Now playing: Watch this: Samsung may finally explain Note 7 failure on Monday

Some Verizon customers apparently know a hot item when they see it and don't want to part with it.

That appears to be the case with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. The wireless carrier told Fortune that much to its dismay, "thousands" of its customers continue to use the device. This despite the widely publicized recalls spurred by battery fire concerns and a software upgrade designed to kill the phone by preventing it from recharging.

"In spite of our best efforts, there are still customers using the recalled phones who have not returned or exchanged their Note 7 to the point of purchase," a Verizon spokeswoman told Fortune. "The recalled Note 7s pose a safety risk to our customers and those around them."

Samsung voluntarily recalled the Note 7 in September, a few short weeks after its release, as reports surfaced that some of the phones had caught fire and damaged people and property. Samsung issued replacement phones, but those started blowing up, too.

The incident proved costly to the South Korean electronics giant in both public image and corporate finances. The recalls bit hard into the company's profits. Airlines banned the Note 7 from flights. Comedians relished making jokes about Samsung phones, not always being careful to distinguish among the company's product lines.

Since then, Samsung has bribed and begged buyers to turn in their Note 7 devices, going so far as to brick phones that hadn't been turned in. As of December, it had recovered 93 percent of the Note 7s sold in the US.

So now Verizon is fighting fire with fire, so to speak. The carrier plans to reroute all non-911 outgoing calls to its customer service line, and it might bill the holdouts for the full retail cost of the phone, Fortune reported.

Verizon representatives didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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