By Sijia Jiang
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has slammed South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics Co <005930.KS> for what it said was “discrimination” against China consumers in its handling of a global recall of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to replace batteries.
In a commentary piece posted on its website on Thursday evening, CCTV said Samsung’s behavior in China after the Sept. 2 recall of 2.5 million phones was “full of arrogance”.
CCTV said a video apology Samsung issued to U.S. consumers, along with various replacement options and compensation, was in stark contrast to its treatment of those in China, where the company issued a brief statement saying most phones didn’t need to be replaced. “Samsung’s discriminatory policy has caused discontent from Chinese consumers,” it said.
Samsung China didn’t immediately responded to requests for comment on the CCTV criticism.
The CCTV criticism may provide an unwelcome distraction for Samsung as seeks to bolster its position in the world’s largest smartphone market. Once the number 1 mobile phone vendor in China, Samsung dropped out of top 5 in 2015, hit by the strong growth of domestic brands like Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo.
A number of big-name global consumer brands have fallen foul of the influential broadcaster’s blasts in recent years, prompting firms from German automaker Volkswagen AG <VOWG_p.de> to Samsung rival Apple Inc <AAPL.O> to undertake strenuous efforts to bolster their image.
Earlier in September, after a meeting with China’s quality safety watchdog, Samsung China issued a brief statement saying 1,858 Note 7 devices sold in the country as part of a test scheme before the official launch would be recalled.
Most Note 7s on sale in China have batteries from a different supplier and are not part of its global recall of 2.5 million phones announced on September 2, Samsung said.
But after anecdotal reports of a handful of Note 7s catching fire in the mainland, Samsung China issued a statement on Thursday apologizing to Chinese consumers for a “lack of sufficient explanation” on what it said were safe Note 7 phones in China.
(Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)