Just as we were beginning to think that the worst was behind Samsung regarding the Galaxy Note 7 battery fiasco, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has lambasted Samsung for discriminating against Chinese consumers when it comes to the terms of the recall.
A commentary posted to the broadcaster’s website on Thursday calls out Samsung’s handling of the recall as “full of arrogance” and suggests that Samsung has discriminated against Chinese consumers by insisting that phones in the country do not need replacing. China has not been included in the global Note 7 recall, so customers are not entitled to replacements or refunds in the country under the same terms as the rest of the world.
Samsung is already struggling to maintain its market position in the country, having recently fallen out of the top five smartphone manufacturers, and this very public blast is certainly not going to help the company’s reputation in the country.
“Samsung’s discriminatory policy has caused discontent from Chinese consumers,” – CCTV
CCTV appears to have missed Samsung’s clear memo that handsets in China are unaffected by the problem because they contain batteries produced by a different manufacturer to the global models. Galaxy Note 7 handsets in China, and safe units now shipping globally, contain a battery developed and manufactured by the country’s own Amperex Technology Limited (ATL). The potentially dangerous batteries were designed by Samsung’s own SDI division and were manufactured at factories in Vietnam and South Korea.
However, very limited reports of exploding handsets in China have caused some to wonder if Samsung is just ignoring the problem in the country. After two Galaxy Note 7s from Jingdong Mall caught fire, Samsung and ATL investigated the case and found that the battery was not the cause of the fire. As we’ve discussed previously, rare faults can occur in all lithium-ion batteries that can cause fires, but these aren’t necessarily a result of a major manufacturing defect worthy of a recall.
The situation in China has not been helped by the revelation that 1,858 Galaxy Note 7 test devices with potentially dangerous batteries have been recalled in the country. However, all of these phones have been returned without incident. Just yesterday, Samsung also issued another statement to its Chinese website clarifying that the phones on sale in China are safe. However, the company has not responded to the recent claims by CCTV.
Samsung is not the first foreign manufacturer to fall foul of the state broadcaster’s perhaps unfair criticisms over the past few years, which has prompted German automaker Volkswagen and rival phone manufacturer Apple to spend significant resources improving their image in the country. With Xiaomi, OPPO, and Huawei already piling on the pressure for smartphone market share, this Galaxy Note 7 battery issue is likely to hit Samsung hard in China even though the phones are safe to use over there.