Samsung has admitted to hiring students in Taiwan to post fake online reviews slamming the phones of arch-rival HTC and are now facing investigations of false advertising by a Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission. Samsung called the incident "unfortunate and occurred due to insufficient understanding of these fundamental principles." Samsung and its local agent could face fines of up to of 25m Taiwanese dollars (S$1 million).
In a statement to the media, Samsung said:
Samsung Electronics remains committed to engaging in transparent and honest communications with consumers as outlined in the company's Online Communications Credo.
We have encouraged all Samsung Electronics employees worldwide to remain faithful to our Credo. The recent incident was unfortunate, and occurred due to insufficient understanding of these fundamental principles.
Samsung Electronics Taiwan (SET) has ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments, and will ensure that all SET online marketing activities will be fully compliant with the company's Online Communications Credo.
We regret any inconvenience this incident may have caused. We will continue to reinforce education and training for our employees to prevent any future recurrence.
Allegations of Samsung's fake reviews first appeared on TaiwanSamsungLeaks.org, which published documents it claimed came from Samsung's outside marketing firm.
In the forum posts, one user allegedly complained that his girlfriend's HTC One X phone was always breaking down, while Samsung's Galaxy Note phone was described as "far better than HTC's Sensation XL handset". Another post even asked if anyone who owned a Samsung phone had been given a job promotion.
In a statement, HTC said, “We are disappointed that a competitor would resort to misleading consumers to discredit our innovation."