GreatCall recalls some Lively MobilePlus devices, halts sales

The Best Buy subsidiary has also been hit by a class action suit due to an unspecified defect with the device's fall detection features.
By Jonah Comstock
02:38 pm
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Update/Correction: This story has been updated with an additional statement from GreatCall. In addition, the headline originally referred erroneously to the Lively Mobile device, which was not affected by the defect or the recall.

Best Buy subsidiary GreatCall has quietly and voluntarily recalled some portion of its recently-launched Lively MobilePlus devices, and has halted the sale of new units. The exact nature of the defect is not clear, but GreatCall referred to the recall in letters to purchasers as an “important safety recall.”

The device is currently listed as “Coming Soon” on GreatCall’s website with no option to purchase, despite being previously available for purchase. GreatCall did not issue a public recall, nor has a recall notice been issued by the FDA. A GreatCall spokesperson told MobiHealthNews that the device is outside the agency's jurisdiction.

“Thank you for your recent purchase of Lively Mobile Plus,” CEO David Inns wrote in a letter to customers dated May 15th. “Unfortunately, we have identified a quality issue in a limited number of Lively Mobile Plus devices manufactured earlier this year. Out of an abundance of caution — and because your safety is our top priority — we need you to stop using the device immediately and return it to us. We want to help ensure your device is working when you need it the most.”

The letter, obtained by MobiHealthNews as part of the documentation in a class action suit against the company filed May 22nd, goes on to offer affected users a full refund, a free Jitterbug flip phone, and a $50 Best Buy gift card.

A GreatCall spokesperson confirmed the news.

"We identified a quality issue in a small number of Lively MobilePlus devices," the spokesperson told MobiHealthNews. "We decided to stop selling these devices. Every customer who had purchased one was contacted within 72 hours and has either gotten a full refund or a Jitterbug flip phone."

The company declined to disclose the number of devices that had been sold or were affected. The spokesperson told MobiHealthNews that the decision to contact customers individually rather than through a public recall was based on the fact that they had contact information for every customer and felt they could reach them more quickly and reliably in that way.

The class action suit was filed on behalf of Scott Barnes, who told MobiHealthNews via email that the device failed to detect his falls on two occasions. Barnes said he was not told about the recall until after he called and complained, a sentiment echoed by a number of similar reports on the consumer product review site BestCompany. The class action suit charges that GreatCall was aware of the issue for some time before contacting customers.

“Even though Defendants have been aware of the Defect, and that there has been a drastic increase in failed emergency services calls, Defendants continued to sell the Defective Medical Alert Device and knowingly hid the Defect from consumers,” Barnes’s lawyers allege in the suit. “Defendants made a business decision that publicly notifying all potential consumers about the Defect would negatively affect sales and profits and therefore chose to conceal the serious consequences of the Defect. Faced with this no-win situation, Defendants put profits over quality and safety.”

GreatCall provided MobiHealthNews with a statement about the class action suit.

"The claims in the lawsuit do not appear to be related to the quality issues we identified with Lively Mobile Plus," the company said. "However, we are continuing to investigate the situation.”

The spokesperson said GreatCall is investigating the issue with the devices and plans to resume sales of the device once they're sure it has been corrected.