With Samsung’s recall of the Note 7, Samsung proved itself to be a conscientious manufacturer. But apparently not in China.
When the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 started exploding, I think all of the mobile tech blogs jumped on the story. We were no different than the rest in ensuring that we reported the stories. No one jumped on the story with as much fervor as Apple fan sites. After ignoring story after story of iPhones blowing up, they were all too willing to report on the Samsung Note 7.
The Samsung story was very different than the iPhone story though. The Samsung issue was relegated to one model of phone, the Note 7. This phone has a definite defect, even if Samsung is still unsure of what the issue is. Apple’s flaw isn’t so much a defect as poor design. Not relegated to only one model. the iPhone is just too thin, and made of too soft a metal. The bending of the iPhone isn’t only a cosmetic issue, it can also damage the Lithium Ion battery and cause it to explode. While the Note 7 was exploding much more frequently than the iPhone, iPhone explosions have been happening much longer, and have been occurring with multiple versions of the device.
The cause and frequency wasn’t the only difference between Samsung and Apple’s stories. The biggest difference was the response of the companies. Apple’s response has been a resounding silence. Samsung recalled the devices, and replaced them. Of course, we all know by now that the replacement devices suffered the same issue, which resulted in Samsung going to great expense to recall this second batch of phones and stop production of the Note 7. I must admit, this earned quite a Samsung quite a bit of respect from me. It’s not often that we see a phone manufacturer accept responsibility for an issue without the intervention of courts. I was shocked and pleased to see Samsung actually being proactive with this issue.
Unfortunately, it seems that Samsung was not acting as responsibly as it appears. In Tianjin China, Zhang Sitong was using his new Note 7. He wasn’t doing anything to strenuous with the phone. All he was doing was saving a friends phone number to the device. Suddenly, it started to vibrate and smoke. Zhang tossed the phone to he ground and had his friend start filming
By now, an exploding Note 7 is nothing new to us. But this was something that Zhang never expected.
“They said there was no problem with the phones in China. That’s why I bought a Samsung. This is an issue of deception. They are cheating Chinese consumers.” -Zhang Sitong
Samsung had stated that the Chinese version of the Note 7 was safe. Samsung told Chinese consumers that this version had a different battery. Zhang’s exploding phone and the video of the incident was stark proof that this was not the truth. Samsung’s reaction to the incident is extremely damning.
Two Samsung employees arrived at Zhangs home later that same day. They offered Zhang a replacement Note 7 along with around $900 in compensation on the condition that the video of Zhang’s burning phone was not made public. Zhang righteously refused. I wonder how many didn’t?
China’s state broadcaster, CCTV has accused Samsung of discrimination and arrogance in it’s reaction to China and the Note 7 issue, pointing out the stark contrast to the reaction Samsung gave to the western world by apologizing and offering exchanges and returns.
Samsung has issued a statement apologizing for their reaction claiming that “China is one of the most important markets and a crucial destination for foreign investment. Samsung never holds a double standard against them.”
Would fixing the issue for one customer base while hiding the issue from another customer base count as a double standard?
I think so.