(note: The latest update happened at Dec 10th, 11:30pm EST, so this is hot off the press news.)
How did Samsung manage to create a massive global f*ck up?
If there is ever a lesson on what a global company like Samsung should NOT do, this is it! This is one cautionary tale that all global corporations' customer service department heads, marketing department heads, and especially General Counsels with a half of a brain should learn to NEVER EVER behave!
To put it nicely, Samsung has now created itself a massive global f*ck up! Yes, a massive global f*ck up is a nice way to put this mess, there are other not so nice ways to put it. Samsung has now not only seriously angered one vocal Canadian customer, enough anger such that Canadian Mr. Richard Wygand had posted TWO YouTube videos "samsung galaxy s4 caught fire proof for samsung" (660,168 views at press time) and "samsung galaxy s4 catches on fire samsung wants silence" (934,526 views at press time) to express his displeasure. As if Samsung was completely blind to how best to de-escalate the situation, Samsung's lawyers under the leadership of its General Counsel (who should ultimately be held responsible by Samsung's shareholders) managed to escalate this whole mess by sending a threatening legal letter to Mr. Wygand who promptly created the above second video and expose Samsung's legal bullying tactics.
As news now travel at internet speed, this news has now gone global reported by Mashable (Dec 10th, reshared 1,000+ times), UK Telegraph "Samsung tries to smother report of Galaxy S4 fire" Dec 10th, Washington Times "Galaxy S4 owner claims Samsung tried to silence him after phone caught fire" Dec 10th, news.com.au in Australia "Samsung damage control backfires after Galaxy S4 fire claim" Dec 10th, The Inquirer "Samsung tries to silence report of Galaxy S4 catching fire - But the company's plan backfires" Dec 9th, and Toronto Sun "Man claims Samsung offered him booty for silence after posting video of charred Galaxy S4" Dec 10th.
And then a commenter in one of the above news articles left this news link about a Samsung device catching fire (with video news report), "A hidden fire danger in your home" (Global News Calgary, Dec 6th).
For the price of a $699 Samsung Galaxy S4, you get a massive global multi-million dollars f*ck up!
So for the retail price of Canadian $699 and the lawyers time to create this legal document full of seemingly "threats", Samsung has now lost millions of brand equity and reputation, that many many millions were spent to build a good relationship with customers. For those that have seen this news and how Samsung has behaved so far, it is questionable how much goodwill is left in the minds of existing and potential customers.
It is a shame that a small local action can damage a global brand. In this reporter's 2007 op-ed "Local damage to a Global brand on a Global scale", the lessons contained in how one small Shell gas station owner managed to damage the global Shell brand, those lessons remained unlearned by those who should have known better.
Nokia USA comes to the rescue
Nokia USA started a nice tweet exchange with Mr. Wygand by writing,
Lets be clear, what Nokia has done is nice but it is also done with a great business reason. It is great marketing and can also be seen as a great advertising thing for the low low price of a Nokia Lumia at factory cost! For the price of a phone, if a global company can emphasize how terrible its competitors' customer services is, then it is a free phone well given away!
Don't know if Nokia USA's "Jason" is a senior executive or "simply" a social media/customer service representative taking care of customers. Regardless, Jason deserves to be acknowledged and praised.
In stark contrast, Samsung has now managed to create a multi-million dollar lost of confidence, lost of brand goodwill and brand equity around the world, all because Samsung doesn't know how to treat customers with respect. And for this, Samsung shareholders are probably entitled to hold its General Counsel accountable. It is too early to tell if anyone should be fired over this fiasco but one thing is sure, global multi-nationals should take notice and LEARN from Samsung's f*ck up! Imagine what you do can be headline news the next morning, would you still do it? If you can treat your customer right, why not? It is not that expensive to do the "right" thing.