Recalled phone power bank explodes at Auckland business, singes woman's hair

Recalled phone power bank explodes at Auckland business, singes woman's hair
The Cygnett-branded power bank, attached to an iPhone, was sitting on a desk when it began expanding and exploded. Photo / Cedric Tulo
The Cygnett-branded power bank, attached to an iPhone, was sitting on a desk when it began expanding and exploded. Photo / Cedric Tulo

“She looked up and the thing was sparking and smoking.”

Tulo said when he returned to the East Tāmaki office, his mother was yelling at him to grab a fire extinguisher.

“I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ I ran upstairs and the thing was sparking and in flames on the desk. [It] set off the fire alarm.”

He said the flaming power bank damaged a desk, burned a carpeted floor and destroyed his mother’s phone. The initial explosion also singed part of her hair.

The initial explosion knocked Cedric Tulo's mother off her chair and singed part of her hair. Photo / Cedric Tulo
The initial explosion knocked Cedric Tulo’s mother off her chair and singed part of her hair. Photo / Cedric Tulo

After contacting the Australian company Cygnett, Tulo said he was told the power bank was included in a product safety recall earlier this year and was reportedly offered no apology for what had happened.

“Basically they just sent me a checklist to see what we did wrong and it’s just frustrating because it just shouldn’t explode. To be honest, I’m just p***ed off at the response I got from them, there were no apologies or anything.”

The recall notice, which identified five affected power banks, said customers should stop using the products “immediately” due to the possibility they may overheat and catch fire.

“There is a risk of a serious burn injury and/or property damage if the battery overheats and catches fire.

“Multiple power banks have overheated and caught fire, causing property damage and injuries.”

Affected products were sold between September 7, 2023, and March 15, 2024.

A product safety recall notice was issued on Cygnett's website earlier this year, warning multiple power banks had overheated and caught fire.
A product safety recall notice was issued on Cygnett’s website earlier this year, warning multiple power banks had overheated and caught fire.

“The thing is they keep saying it was part of a product safety recall, but we had received nothing, so how are we supposed to know that? Surely they don’t expect consumers to check the internet for ‘product safety recalls’,” Tulo said.

He said the week before the incident, his mother was on a flight from Apia, Samoa, to Auckland and had the power bank in her luggage.

“I have no idea what would’ve happened if it had exploded on a plane.”

Cygnett CEO Jason Carrington told the Herald an investigation has been launched into the circumstances leading to the incident last Thursday and the company has “proactively communicated” with the consumer.

The flaming power bank damaged a desk, burned a carpeted floor and destroyed the phone it was attached to. Photo / Cedric Tulo
The flaming power bank damaged a desk, burned a carpeted floor and destroyed the phone it was attached to. Photo / Cedric Tulo

“We were deeply concerned to learn that a customer has been injured after using our recalled MagMove Dual Magnet Power Bank. Consumer safety and product satisfaction are our top priorities at Cygnett, and we are focused on providing this individual with all necessary support and assistance,” Carrington said.

“Cygnett takes product safety very seriously, and we initiated the recall to prevent any potential harm. We urge any customers who have purchased the MagMove product to immediately cease its use and follow the recall instructions provided on our website: https://www.cygnett.com/pages/magmove-product-recall.”

Tulo said his mother was “doing all right” after the incident, but was now put off any portable battery products.

Cygnett CEO Jason Carrington says an investigation has been launched into the circumstances leading to the incident last Thursday. Photo / Cedric Tulo
Cygnett CEO Jason Carrington says an investigation has been launched into the circumstances leading to the incident last Thursday. Photo / Cedric Tulo

“It’s not like we went with like a Temu-branded battery pack, it was bought from JB Hi-Fi and made by an Australian company.

“I just want people that have the product to know they have something potentially dangerous, because I don’t think people know about it – especially if you’re travelling with it and they allow it on planes.”

Benjamin Plummer is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He has worked for the Herald since 2022.