Problems seem to be following the Korean giant, Samsung. In the latest one, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) has been accused of unethical behavior towards two technology bloggers from India, whom it had invited to cover the IFA trade fair in Berlin with all expenses including flights and accommodation covered.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) invited the two bloggers under the program called “Samsung Mobilers” to write about their products, but on their arrival they were told they had to work in the company’s booths, showcasing new Samsung products as well as wear uniforms. When the bloggers protested, Samsung withdrew its funding; leaving them stranded thousands of miles from home without a plane ticket back, nor means to pay their hotel bill. They were saved by the executives from Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK), who sorted out their flights and hotel costs. According to the bloggers they made it clear from the beginning that they would be attending the show only as free reporters and would be covering other gadgets from other manufacturers, along with the Samsung’s.
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One of the bloggers said on the Next Web “We got a call from Samsung India, saying ‘You can either be a part of this and wear the uniform, or you’ll have to get your own tickets back home and handle your hotel stay from the moment this call ends…A few minutes later, we got a call from the Samsung India guy who said that our flights on the 6th have been cancelled, and that they’re bringing us back on the 1st instead. But this is only if, and only if, we agreed to wear at least the Samsung branded shirt at the unpacked event, and not blog about any of this incident. “None of this should leave Berlin. Or Reach India”
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) tried to cover the whole incident by calling it a ‘misunderstanding’, but according to Guardian, similar charges have been leveled against Samsung before, by a French blogger, Quiqueré. Quiqueré, has been a “brand ambassador” for Samsung since 2010 and was told that she had won a trip to the Olympics in London in August at company’s expense (Samsung was a major sponsor of the Olympics), along with others. The group rarely got a chance to enjoy the Olympics, instead they were put to work creating promotional videos and photos, and filling out daily reports on what they had done, along with uploading videos of promotional events to their personal YouTube accounts, which many in the group resisted, including Quiqueré. “We didn’t have the chance to see the Olympic stadium or participate [in] other festive events related to the Olympics,” Quiqueré complained. “The most embarrassing thing is the surreal feeling of being trapped.”
About the recent incident, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) said in a statement “We regret there was a misunderstanding between the Samsung Mobilers coordinators and the relevant blogger, as we understand he was not sufficiently briefed on the nature of Samsung Mobilers’ activities at IFA 2012. We have been attempting to get in touch with him. We respect the independence of bloggers to publish their own stories.”
In the latest development on the case involving mistreatment of the two bloggers, Samsung has apologized for the “undue hardship.” In a statement, Samsung placed the blame on a coordinator for the Mobilers tech blogger programs, saying “Samsung Mobilers is a voluntary community of active Samsung mobile device users, who are offered the opportunity to participate in our marketing events across the world. At these events, all activities they undertake are on a voluntary basis. No activities are forced upon them. We regret there was a misunderstanding between the Samsung Mobilers coordinators and the relevant blogger, as we understand he was not sufficiently briefed on the nature of Samsung Mobilers’ activities at IFA 2012. We have been attempting to get in touch with him. We respect the independence of bloggers to publish their own stories.”
Apart from the above statement, in an e-mail provided to The Next Web, a representative from Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) said
“I would like to reach out to you and deeply apologize to you for your experience in Berlin at IFA. We put you through undue hardship and we are trying to rectify the situation.”
Such incidents expose the masked side of technology reporting and blogging, where bloggers fell prey to the offers and rewards by the big companies and in return end up making their blogs and posts as per the wishes of their sponsorers. These acts are against the Advertising Standards Authority rules laid down in 2009, as well as the consumer protection law