Ever heard of this saying in Singapore? “Hell hath no fury like an elderly scorned”. Clearly, Huawei didn’t, seeing as how they have completely botched their whole promotional event for their phones.
Specifically, their whole promotion was based on the upcoming 54th National Day and was targeted at people born during or around the Merdeka generation, aptly discounting their Huawei Y6 Pro smartphone to SG$54 from its original SG$198 price.
By now you must have already heard about how it has failed spectacularly, with angry uncles and aunties causing a ruckus at various Huawei stores around Singapore.
Obviously, the thought process behind the whole promotion was not one made with due research. Not only was the promotion made with the intention to attract Singaporeans, but to Singaporeans over aged 50. Bad idea.
Kiasu-ism is one well-known trait that many Singaporeans share. It is baked in at a genetic level. Anything new or cheap, we can’t help but get it; it’s instinct at this point. I mean, you’re talking about the same people who go out of their way for Hello Kitty plushies at McDonald’s and spend hours queuing for Coldplay tickets – yes that’s right, Coldplay of all bands.
Indeed, we Singaporeans have a storied history with the art of the queue. But this is kicked up a notch when you involve the folks from the older generation.
Through the years, their senses have developed to that of a bloodhound to seek out good deals, and they have been battle-hardened to withstand hours – even days – of queueing.
Do not be misled by that old auntie on the MRT that’s been eyeing your seat, she probably has quads that’ll make even Roberto Carlos blush. And once they smell a deal, they turn as quickly as Billy Batson changes into Shazam, except instead of saying “Shazam!”, they say “Lobang!”
If Huawei’s first mistake was underestimating their resolve at getting a good deal, their next was underestimating their numbers.
According to Huawei, approximately 2,000 units were made available islandwide for the promotion, something that they figured was more than sufficient due to their sales records. Each store also stocked varying amounts based on in-store sales records, meaning that small heartland mall shops would have fewer stocks. Did they figure that there weren’t going to be many old people around for this deal? Eh, Singapore ageing population leh!
In any case, this incident has added to the list of bad news to befall the company this year, what with the US trade sanctions and all. The fact that this promotion was linked with the 54th National Day celebrations adds an extra bit of bad taste as well.
Some might say this might actually be a good thing, pointing to the popular phrase “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, but people are more than capable of recognising when a company has been grossly incompetent in its planning.
But in some ways, I feel a sense of pity for Huawei. Yes, they have not handled the promotion well at all, but we really shouldn’t be feeling entitled to the device just because we have queued for hours.
I’ve seen various complaints directed to the China-based technology giant’s local Facebook page, with most blaming the company for making old folks wait for nothing.
There’s even one commenter faulting Huawei for making his mother queue in vain despite recently having a knee operation. Was getting a cheap phone such a priority that you risk re-injuring yourself? Our healthcare systems are good, but it ain’t cheap. You can’t Medi-save yourself from the expense!
The one, tiny positive news is that this debacle has seemingly only riled up the people from that age group. We youngsters simply sit back and laugh at the whole situation, not involved at all. Our lobang revolves more around Starbucks one-for-one deals.
Huawei has also been very contrite during the whole situation. Admitting their mistake was a good first step, but they have also assured that around 5,000 affected consumers who registered their details at the shops will receive an SG$100 voucher that can be used with selected Huawei products (Y6 Pro, Nova 3i, P30 Pro, P30, P30 Lite, Mate 20 X, Mate 20 Pro, and Mate 20). Huawei has confirmed to us that the affected individuals will be contacted from tomorrow (2 August) onwards on further details for the redemption on the vouchers.
Ironically, the Y6 Pro is currently running a promo that has slashed its SG$198 price to SG$148, and so using the voucher will get it down to just SG$48, less than the SG$54 promo price. Wah lau, those poor old folks who managed to get the phone queued for nothing!
This incident is unlikely to prevent Huawei from returning with another promotion anyway. They’ll likely hibernate until people forget about it before coming back with a new deal for their devices.
In fact, next year’s 55th National Day celebrations represent an excellent time for a redemption arc. ‘New year, new me’, as they always say. And with that extra year of experience, hopefully, they would have learned a lesson from underestimating the older generation and stock an appropriate amount for the occasion.
They should also include a Starbucks one-for-one deal for good measure.
Photos by Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team.