By now, you would have probably either read or heard about the chaos that reigned across all 27 Huawei stores in Singapore last Friday (Jul 26), thanks to a controversial National Day promotion that the Chinese tech firm ran for one of their handphones.
The three-day promotion, which was only available to Singaporeans and permanent residents above the age of 50, saw Huawei slash the price of their Y6 Pro smartphone from S$198 to S$54.
But what Huawei failed to mention in their marketing efforts for the promotion was that they only had a limited number of Y6 Pro smartphones for sale at each outlet.
This proved to be a problem as thousands of people turned up at the Huawei stores to buy the discounted phones, which meant that there was insufficient supply to meet the demand.
As a result, the majority of would-be buyers who had queued for the phones were unable to get their hands on it. Instead of accepting the situation and leaving quietly, however, many of them began kicking up a huge fuss at the respective Huawei stores they were at.
At some stores, things got so bad that the police had to be called in to manage the situation.
In the aftermath of the promotional chaos, Singapore netizens came out in force to criticise Huawei, who were accused of misleading their customers. Even Lim Biow Chuan, president of the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), spoke out on Facebook to censure Huawei over this fiasco.
Huawei then took to their Facebook page to apologise for failing to provide the “vast majority” of their customers with the promotion due to “overwhelming demand”.
There is no doubt that Huawei had made a mistake in this instance. They should have been more upfront about having a limited number of promotional phones available, and they certainly could have managed the mechanics of the promotion better.
But they weren’t the only ones at fault here, were they?
Because this incident brought out an ugly side of Singaporeans – an entitled, unreasonable, selfish and kiasu side that played a large part in last Friday’s unpleasant furore.
Firstly, let’s address the bad behaviour of those who were unable to take advantage of the promotion.
Yes, I understand it must have been frustrating and disappointing to have queued for the phone to no avail. But surely, that did not warrant the kind of ugly commotion that people were causing at the Huawei stores.
An aunt of mine, who happened to be among those who queued for the phones at Huawei’s Tampines Mall outlet, described the atmosphere at the store as “hostile and aggressive”.
She told The Pride: “Many of those who were queueing with me were verbally abusive towards the Huawei staff. Some of the things that were said were rude, and I felt bad for the staff, even though I was quite frustrated that I had queued for nothing.”
According to other eyewitnesses, such ugly and rowdy behaviour was also prevalent at the other Huawei outlets. Shouting and cursing, throwing tantrums, and even fighting – all this, just because people were unable to get what they wanted.
Do you see the problem here?
Also, why did everyone who queued for the promotion think they were automatically entitled to the phone?
Now, imagine if you were queuing up at a popular chicken rice stall. Before it reaches your turn to order, the shop owner announces that they have sold out for the day.
Do you kick up a huge fuss at the stall? Make a ruckus? Demand that they serve you because you had spent time queuing for the chicken rice?
I’m going to guess that you would probably just shrug your shoulders and walk away to find something else to eat. You might bemoan your luck and feel frustrated that you weren’t able to eat your favourite chicken rice that day, but you certainly wouldn’t blame the stall for selling out, would you?
How is this any different from the incident with Huawei?
After all, while we’ve already established that Huawei should have been more upfront about the number of phones they had set aside for the promotion, they never did guarantee – in their advertising, or otherwise – that everyone who was eligible for the phone would be able to get it.
And the fact that there were so many who went early to queue at Huawei’s stores indicates that they, too, were probably aware that there were only limited sets of the discounted phones available.
So, it’s quite likely that people were kicking up a fuss in the hopes of getting some form of compensation for the inconvenience that they faced – an inconvenience which they chose to bring upon themselves for the sake of a discounted phone.
Well, it has apparently worked, with Huawei offering S$100 smartphone vouchers to about 5,000 of their registered customers in order to “make things right”.
But, let’s make no bones about it – Huawei is under no obligation to compensate those who left their stores empty handed.
And it almost seems counter-productive to “reward” those who threw their toys out of the pram and contributed to the ugly scenes at the Huawei stores last Friday.
Because such rude, abusive and all-round bad behaviour is never warranted, no matter what the reason. Two wrongs don’t make a right, after all.
Ultimately, we can always choose to express our anger and frustration in a better way. We can always choose to try and get our message across in a nicer way. We can always choose to behave in a kinder, more gracious way.
And we can always choose to Be Greater.