We knew there had to be a catch with the Novatel MiFi 3G routers -- they were just too convenient. But, little did we know that catch involved danger to our health and wellbeing! Bell Mobility has been sending UPS couriers around (real people holding envelopes, not unicorns) to owners of the Novatel MiFi 2372, delivering dire-sounding letters (a copy can be found after the break) telling them to discontinue use of their routers due to faulty battery packs and, if that wasn't enough, they were all remotely deactivated yesterday morning. Owners are told to send their MiFis back to the company for replacement, a process said to take a whopping six to eight weeks. Novatel is sending U998 Turbo Sticks to those affected for use in the interim, but that doesn't do you much good if your device lacks USB ports, like our unfortunate tipster's iPad. We can understand the frustration of giving up your gadget for two months, the alternative doesn't sound too appealing either.
Update: Kevin from Novatel dropped us a comment with the company's official statement. We have it after the break.
Update 2: A Novatel rep would like us to clarify that the couriers in question are from UPS, and also come equipped with return envelopes for the affected 2372s. So, if anyone from FedEx tries to deliver any documentation about this situation, it's probably a trap.
And here's the statement from Novatel:
Novatel's top priorities are to serve our customers and end-consumers and to provide for the safe use of our products. There have been two incidents reported from Bell and Virgin Mobile Canada, with battery overheating issues. While we can't comment on specific consumer incidents, it has been reported that some customers have had difficulties opening the battery door thus utilizing sharp objects or excessive force to open it. While doing this, customers can inadvertently puncture the battery when trying to remove it and this can cause the battery to over-heat. To reduce the probability of user-induced damage to the battery, we have redesigned the battery door to make it easier to open.
Any product or battery issue is considered a matter of utmost importance for Novatel Wireless. Consistent with that and as a preventive measure, the Company has communicated an exchange program for Bell and Virgin Mobile Canada customers to replace the MiFi 2372 battery and battery door.
The MiFi 2200 -- addressing the CDMA market -- represents the majority of the MiFi units we have sold and has different design features and components, hence, it is not effected.