Taiwanese officials will look into claims that Samsung hired students to anonymously praise Samsung while criticizing HTC.
The BBC reports that Samsung allegedly paid the students to criticize Taiwanese manufacturer HTC online anonymously. If Taiwanese officials find Samsung guilty of false advertising by hiring the students it will face a fine of up to 25 million Taiwanese dollars (about $836,420 U.S.).
The investigation comes after Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission received a number of complaints from Taiwanese citizens.
For its part Samsung doesn’t outright deny the accusations. Samsung said the “unfortunate incident” goes against the “fundamental principles” of the South Korean company. Samsung Taiwan posted to its Facebook page that it “ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments.”
Earlier in 2013 Taiwan fined Samsung for a misleading advertisement for the Samsung Galaxy Y Duo.
To avoid such incidents in the future Samsung will train its employees to not use such tactics. “The recent incident was unfortunate, and occurred due to insufficient understanding of these fundamental principles,” Samsung Taiwan added on its Facebook page.
it’s not clear if Samsung used similar tactics in other countries. So far it looks like Samsung used anonymous comments online in Taiwan only. Presumably Samsung hired Taiwanese students to make comments to lure customers away from HTC in its home country.
In other countries like the U.S. the move wouldn’t make that much sense as HTC never held a commanding market share. A more obvious company to attack in the U.S. is Apple, Samsung’s largest rival.
Samsung’s newest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, will come to U.S. carriers by the end of the month. HTC’s new phone, the HTC One, will come to AT&T and Sprint this Friday. Reviews of the HTC One call it the Android smartphone to beat, which Samsung will be trying to beat with its massive marketing budget.