This is a fiasco if there ever was one. As Samsung’s Note 7 crisis continues to unfurl, Chinese consumers scowl at Samsung’s assurances of safety, with the toll hitting six yesterday.
China’s sixth Note 7 phone went off on Wednesday in a electronics market in the southeastern province of Guangxi. The phone was hastily flung away by a phone salesman who was idly toying with it when it reportedly started to heat up and emit smoke. Soon a security guard came forward with a fire extinguisher. The phone was left with a scorched patch on its screen.
Samsung came forward with another statement the following day, as the Chinese internet became incredulous at Samsung’s aloofness. “Samsung highly values the Chinese market and will never apply double standards to China”, pledged the company as it tried to appease and offer a better explanation as to why recalls in China were so few.
“The replacement Note 7 phones in the overseas market employ batteries from the same supplier as the China manufactured phones, more than 1 millions users across the globe are currently using the phone”, explained Samsung.
Despite these explanations, Chinese consumers are indignant that Samsung has yet to trigger a mass recall in the country. Viewed by consumers as discriminatory treatment, it has given rise to a round of nationalistic outcries.
“So they are dismissing all explosions in China as being done with a microwave, while they scramble to recall phones in the U.S.? This is utter discrimination! Samsung is rubbish! Get out of China!” ranted one furious Weibo user.
“I don’t really mind if Samsung is applying double standards in China, I’m never going to buy their phones again, so it makes no difference to me”, said another disappointed user.
In reality, the fact that the same batteries are employed in the replacement phones is hardly reassuring, as replacements are not free from their own battery related woes. Users in the U.S. and Korea have complained that the replacement phones overheat to the extent that it is hard to touch the phone to skin. Samsung promised to look at each complaint individually.
Samsung also reiterated its earlier diagnosis of the two defect phones in China, asserting that they did not find fault within the battery. Two third party testing agencies have corroborated Samsung’s initial findings. “There was no noticeable damage within the battery itself. Hence we deduced that the combustion was a result of external thermal impact”, said the statement.
“On a rate of 1-100, I would give an apology like this one a zero”, said one unmoved user on Weibo. Many others echoed this attitude commenting with a string of zeros.
Here’s a recap of Samsung Note 7 explosions in China:
Guangdong, September 18th: The handset was purchased on the first day of the official sales, September first through Jd.com. The explosion was described as this: “the screen went black, it started vibrating and then exploded from the center of the phone after I hurled it to the floor. The room was filled a burnt, foul smell.” Samsung claimed that the explosion was caused by an external heat force. The Chinese internet tingled with excitement at the prospect of an implied scandal.
Shanghai, September 18th: The phone was purchased from Jd.com on the 7th. The owner was playing a mobile game when bizarre vibrations began. The screen went dark, and began to fume, accompanied by sizzling noises.
Shanghai, September 24th: The owner sniffed something burning as he was walking with the phone in his pocket, and found that his phone was smoking. Samsung met with this user two days later, but no settlement was reached.
Guangzhou, September 26th: Just a few hours after purchase (so there are people buying the phone even with this crisis!) According to the owner, he was playing with the fully charged phone when it began to “puff up” and emit smoke, filling the air with a foul and acidic odor. The overheated phone also scathed the user’s MacBook Pro.
Liaoning, September 26th: The user was in the middle of a call with the phone died, began to shake, overheat and emit a pungent smoke. The phone was scorched within five minutes. This Note 7 phone was bought from Samsung’s flagship store on Tmall.
Guangxi, September 28th: A salesperson was testing out the phone in a shop when it started emitting smoke. There was no evidence of an actual explosion as a security guard rushed to the rescue with a fire extinguisher.