There’s been a lot of anger and frustration among Malaysian smartphone consumers over the past few days. Many angry words were uttered, plenty more made their way into social media and the Internet; some were perhaps warranted, others utterly baseless. While most of the frustration was directed at Xiaomi Malaysia and its limited supply of stocks, others were even more incensed at Samsung Malaysia with their 50% off promotion for the Galaxy Note 3 Neo, a device that’s only been in Malaysia for a month.
The Note 3 Neo promotion was, to say the least, a PR disaster. Here’s a company that’s probably tryng to divert attention away from the competition with a seductive offer of their own, and yet the end result was a crisis management for a debacle that was not of their own doing. Were Samsung Malaysia really to blame in this matter?
Before I move on, here’s a recap: Samsung Malaysia announced a couple of days ago that for three days starting from yesterday, the company is offering the Galaxy Note 3 Neo at only RM850 – a full RM849 off the RM1699 retail price. Certainly, this was a very good deal for anyone looking for a phablet. But, as with all good deals, there were some conditions: only 1240 units of the device can be purchased at this price nationwide, and more importantly, each participating outlet (62 in total) were only allocated 20 units to sell at that price.
It says a lot about Samsung’s presence and fan base in Malaysia that the hits of our announcement post two days ago were head and shoulders above any of the Xiaomi posts we published that same day. But here’s where it went all wrong for Samsung: Malaysians, frustrated after coming in early to participating Samsung outlets only for the shops to open with an announcement that the units “were all sold out”, took to the Internet to vent.
And there were so many of them. Many complained that the shops they went to had significantly lower stocks of the Note 3 Neo than what was promised (some mentioned that only two were sold to the public at one outlet), and so pointed their angry and accusatory fingers solely at Samsung at what they felt was false advertising and a cheap marketing stunt to divert attention from its competitors.
But here’s the deal: Samsung did nothing wrong here. Those fingers should instead be pointed at the participating outlets taking part in the offer.
Three months ago, a prominent hardware brand ran a promotion common with GPU sales: buy a GPU from our brand and redeem a free AAA-title game as a thank you from us. For its latest series of hardware, the company offered a free copy of Battlefield 4 for each purchase of its high-end models. Within days of the announcement, we were called out for spreading false information, as literally nobody in retail outlets selling the products made mention of the promotion to their customers.
Confused (and equally incensed that his credibility was called into question), our writer Chapree contacted the company to confirm the matter. Once again, it reiterated that the promotion was valid for all outlets selling the products throughout the country. The problem could very well be that the retailers themselves were holding back information and keeping the game codes for themselves, either for personal use or even to sell them individually. We have since been told that the whole issue came about due to a miscommunication between the company and the customers, where it turned out that only selected partner retailers were involved in the promotion, and customers were also able to redeem the free game online. The matter has since been resolved.
Back to the Samsung promotion. Earlier, I spoke to someone from Samsung Malaysia for some clarification on the matter. We were told that yes, there were a total of 1240 units allocated to 62 outlets, but Samsung cannot fully control who buys them. After all, if the retail shops were to buy all the allocated units as a stock-taking exercise, and then sell them off at a discount at a later time, who can trace that? Even if there was a binding contract that clearly states that retailers cannot keep the devices or sell them to friends and family, it would be a mountain of a challenge for Samsung’s internal investigation team to find proof.
And perhaps the worst part is that business owners will see no wrong in doing so. In their eyes, the retail shops will eventually profit, and Samsung themselves will see it as “all units were sold out within half a day”. Win-win for all, right?
But would Samsung consider this a successful campaign?
One look at the company’s social media pages would tell you that Samsung is just as big a loser in this situation as consumers hoping to grab a good deal. The company has confirmed that it is conducting an internal investigation on the matter, but any action that can be taken will only be retrospective ones. The damage has already been done. Samsung, for all of its criticism it has had to face about its products, had been unfairly labelled as a “penipu scammer” (to use a popular term in our forums.)
Meanwhile, some already rich business owners are laughing their way to the bank.