Smart­phone bat­tery prob­lems sap cus­tomer loyalty

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By WANG YING in Shang­hai

Iwould never have imag­ined that my trust in my fa­vorite brand would col­lapse one day, un­til a de­fec­tive smart­phone bat­tery fi­nally shat­tered my per­fect im­pres­sion of it a cou­ple of weeks ago.

It all started about two months ago, when I found out that af­ter one year of use, my phone eas­ily ran out of juice. The sit­u­a­tion was strange to me, a very re­strained smart­phone user.

In spite of this, when I took my phone — charged up to 100 per­cent to the of­fice in the morn­ing — it could barely stay on by the time I left work.

I even en­vied my mom’s Huawei, which only needs to recharge ev­ery two days, not to say its price which was less than half of that of my phone.

When I com­plained about the wors­en­ing con­di­tion of the bat­tery at lunchtime, a col­league who bought the same model at around the same time said: “It is mar­velous

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that you can even have your phone still on when you re­turn home. My phone is al­ways on charge when­ever I am at home or in the of­fice.”

The sit­u­a­tion be­came even worse as the win­ter came. One day in early Novem­ber, a call of only a few sec­onds re­moved all the 28 per­cent of power left in my phone. Fol­low­ing an abrupt shut­down, the phone couldn’t be turned on un­til nearly four hours later.

When I started to con­sider chang­ing to a new brand, I was told that the brand had in­tro­duced a free re­place­ment pro­gram on Nov 20 that aimed to solve the un­ex­pected shut­down is­sue.

Al­beit with the re­place­ment pro­gram, the tech gi­ant in­sisted “this is not a safety is­sue and only af­fects de­vices within a lim­ited se­rial num­ber range”.

The con­de­scend­ing tone re­minded me of the South Korean com­pany Sam­sung, which once in­sisted its lat­est Galaxy Note 7 was safe even af­ter re­ports about faulty bat­ter­ies were posted on­line by Chi­nese users.

Back to the prob­lem of my phone bat­tery. Find­ings from Shang­hai’s lo­cal con­sumer rights pro­tec­tion watch­dog showed that com­plaints about the brand filed in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber in­creased nearly six-fold year-on-year, with the ma­jor­ity point­ing to its abrupt shut­down.

Even for con­sumers el­i­gi­ble for a free bat­tery re­place­ment, they nor­mally needed to wait about one week af­ter mak­ing a reser­va­tion, not to men­tion the “mis­sion im­pos­si­ble” of re­serv­ing a slot for a bat­tery re­place­ment on­line.

The prob­lems re­lated with de­fec­tive for­eign smart­phones could bode well for do­mes­tic phone mak­ers, which are win­ning more and more clients from home and abroad with their sta­ble per­for­mance and high cost ef­fi­ciency.

Since the first ex­plo­sion oc­curred in Au­gust, Sam­sung’s brand mar­ket share was over­taken by Huawei in the third quar­ter, ac­cord­ing to Ten­cent Big Data. Among Note 7 users who changed phones, more than half of them no longer chose a Sam­sung.

Sim­i­larly, my brand’s bat­tery prob­lem might dis­suade Chi­nese con­sumers from only buy­ing for­eign brands, and shift their at­ten­tion to do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to In­ter­na­tional Data Cor­po­ra­tion, do­mes­tic brands Huawei, OPPO and vivo con­tin­ued their ex­pan­sion in the do­mes­tic smart- phone mar­ket by win­ning a 47 per­cent share by the sec­ond quar­ter of 2016, up from 43 per­cent a year ago.

The lat­est re­port from China Mo­bile, the world’s largest mo­bile op­er­a­tor, showed in its 2016 qual­ity anal­y­sis of 19 mo­bile brands sold in China, Huawei led other phones in nearly half of all 42 in­dexes. Specif­i­cally, among phones priced more than 3,000 yuan ($435), Huawei out­per­formed Ap­ple and Sam­sung in terms of ba­sic com­mu­ni­ca­tion, mul­ti­me­dia ca­pa­bil­i­ties, sys­tem us­abil­ity and user rat­ings.

Af­ter four days of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ne­go­ti­a­tion, I fi­nally had my phone bat­tery re­placed.

Gone with the re­placed bat­tery was my un­con­di­tional trust to­wards this brand’s prod­ucts. Apart from wor­ry­ing about the sta­bil­ity of the new bat­tery, one of my new habits is that I have started to pay a lot more at­ten­tion to new re­leases from Huawei.

Con­tact the writer at wang_y­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

LIU JUNFENG / FOR CHINA DAILY

A con­sumer chooses from Huawei smart­phones in Yichang, Hubei prov­ince. The Shen­zhen-based Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd is the world’s third big­gest hand­set maker.

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