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China Hardware

Samsung Tried to Bribe Chinese Man To Keep Exploding Phone Video Private (gizmodo.com) 122

An anonymous reader writes: When a Galaxy Note 7 caught fire in China, its owner started filming the damage. That's to be expected. What was less expected was how Samsung reacted to news that one of its phones caught on fire. According to The New York Times, Samsung didn't rush out to try to find out why this user's phone exploded, it tried to bribe him to keep the video private. From the New York Times report; "Two employees from Samsung Electronics showed up at his house later that day, he said, offering a new Note 7 and about $900 in compensation on the condition that he keep the video private. Mr. Zhang angrily refused. Only weeks before, even as Samsung recalled more than two million Note 7s in the United States and elsewhere, the company had reassured him and other Chinese customers that the phone was safe. 'They said there was no problem with the phones in China. That's why I bought a Samsung,' said Mr. Zhang, a 23-year-old former firefighter. 'This is an issue of deception. They are cheating Chinese consumers.'"
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Samsung Tried to Bribe Chinese Man To Keep Exploding Phone Video Private

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 19, 2016 @08:05AM (#53106685)
    I'm telling you those were stooges hired by Apple to make Samsung and Android look bad just like Apple and their mindless hipster horde is behind these explosions.
  • Its gonna turn out to be a virus.

  • Bribe? (Score:2, Informative)

    by jandersen ( 462034 )

    Let's try to use words with some integrity; bribery is a criminal offence, whereas what Samsung allegedly did was to try to buy the guy's silence, which is merely odious, but not a crime.

    • Let's try to use words with some integrity; bribery is a criminal offence, whereas what Samsung allegedly did was to try to buy the guy's silence, which is merely odious, but not a crime.

      Oh geesh, Do you think that anyone equated bribing an elected official with giving a private citizen money in exchange for keep ing their yap shut?

      Give us some credit for a little intelligence.

      • Give us some credit for a little intelligence.

        Give me a good reason.

        • Give us some credit for a little intelligence.

          Give me a good reason.

          Because we are not all English majors. Because we are not all worried about some universal never changing definition of a word. Because we are not all pedants. Because people do understand what bribe means.

          And should we decide to go full pedant, here is what Mirriam Webster has to sat about the matter:

          Full Definition of bribe

          1: money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust

          2: something that serves to induce or influence

          Okay, it s

          • I suppose that words mean what we mean them to, and the dictionary is correct to include the imprecise definition number two. But that doesn't make the usage correct.

            I did not bribe 7-11 $1 to give me a Big Gulp. My boss does not bribe me to come in to work. One does not bribe a horse to gallop faster with a whip. Magnetic fields do not bribe a compass needle. And Samsung did not attempt to bribe an unfortunate phone owner.

            It isn't a matter of being smart enough to figure out the meaning; I think the i

            • The pedantry is strong with this one...

              I did not bribe 7-11 $1 to give me a Big Gulp. My boss does not bribe me to come in to work.

              Of course not. That is the normal, expected exchange of money for goods or services.

              One does not bribe a horse to gallop faster with a whip.

              No, one uses pain/the fear of pain to motivate it to move faster. A more apt animal example would be using treats to encourage behavior while training a dog, and that does qualify as bribery.

              Magnetic fields do not bribe a compass needle.

              Of course not. That's the effect of a natural phenomenon, which has no will or intelligence, much less reason to influence a piece of metal to act in a way it otherwise would not have.

              And Samsung did not attempt to bribe an unfortunate phone owner.

              Yes, they bloo

              • The pedantry is strong with this one...

                Almost as strong as the lack of logic.

                A person who goes to work exchanges work for money.

                A bribed person exchanges something that the person doing the bribing either wants out, or wants to remain secret.

                I do however suspect that our not quite accurate pedants, really, really, really love Android phones, Samsung in particular, hate Apple, and are trying to obscure the argument and the truth that the Galaxy Note 7 is a rather dangerous device.

                So they do what every person backed into a corner does. T

            • I think the intelligence that the GP petulantly called for was to recognize that words have shades of meaning and that "bribe" was not chosen for accuracy.

              They just offered him money to keep his mouoth shut. Call it a fuckengruven if you want. It was money to keep his mouth shut, and it was a bribe.

              Now lets look at this from the Article

              "Two employees from Samsung Electronics showed up at his house later that day, he said, offering a new Note 7 and about $900 in compensation on the condition that he keep the video private.

              You can call it what you like. I call it a bribe. Whatever particular word we use does not change that Samsung offered him money to

            • I suppose that words mean what we mean them to, and the dictionary is correct to include the imprecise definition number two. But that doesn't make the usage correct.

              Good gawd man, you really should make certain to tell them they are wrong. Otherwise I have no idea how to reply to you!

      • Using the word "bribe" to describe the behavior does equate "bribing" a public official with giving a private citizen money to keep their mouth shut. The headline used the word "bribe" to make it sound nefarious and get clicks. Samsung's preferred headline "Company supercompensates customer for minor glitch" would be equally misleading.

        Regardless, the owner of the BBQed phone had no obligation to anyone to disclose or hide the video, so nobody could "bribe" him to violate such obligation.

    • Some words have a dictionary definition and a legal definition (or scientific, etc). This not being a law blog, I assume they're using the dictionary definition here. Still a horrible thing to do - and not an inaccurate use of the word at all.

      • by Alomex ( 148003 )

        I assume they're using the dictionary definition here.

        I just looked it up in the dictionary and no, it isn't a bribe according to it either.

    • I'd say pfffffft at $900 bucks too. Up it to a million and we'd talk.
    • Yes Bribe (Score:5, Informative)

      by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2016 @09:11AM (#53107079)

      Let's try to use words with some integrity; bribery is a criminal offence, whereas what Samsung allegedly did was to try to buy the guy's silence, which is merely odious, but not a crime.

      Let's consult a dictionary shall we?

      bribe
      verb: bribe; 3rd person present: bribes; past tense: bribed; past participle: bribed; gerund or present participle: bribing
              1 : money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust
              2 : something that serves to induce or influence

      These alleged actions by Samsung were definitely attempts at bribery by definition. Their actions may or may not have been criminal depending on the local laws but they definitely were bribery.

      • These alleged actions by Samsung were definitely attempts at bribery by definition. Their actions may or may not have been criminal depending on the local laws but they definitely were bribery.

        And, frankly, this is nothing new in terms of behavior of large companies. The difference is that your average consumer used to lack a mechanism to disseminate videos and such directly to wide audiences. So, if this happened to someone a few decades ago, there would likely be no video of the even to begin with, and then you'd get investigations by consumer safety organizations, local news media, etc.

        But meanwhile the big corporation would be trying to do "damage control" too. It would be contacting the

      • by vux984 ( 928602 )

        Pretty much every settlement ever offered anywhere ever comes with language that you won't talk about it.

        Its not 'odious' its not 'illegal'. Its completely mundane.

        Let's consult a dictionary shall we?

        Sure, let's.

        Its not definition one, because this guy ISN'T in a "position of trust". He's just some rando with a broken phone.

        That leaves definition #2..."something that serves to induce or influence" which covers everything from offering a child a cookie to clean up their room to, to advertising in all its forms, to wearing perfume... pretty muc

        • The one time I was offered a settlement to keep my mouth shut, I pencilled 2 extra zeroes on the offer and pushed it back.

          Apparently if I'd only added one, they might have paid up, but I didn't want to be gagged anyway.

      • Indeed.

        I guess Fight Club was right ...

      • We don't use that word here in Corporatist America. We use the term "campaign contributions".

    • Let's try to use words with some integrity; bribery is a criminal offence, whereas what Samsung allegedly did was to try to buy the guy's silence, which is merely odious, but not a crime.

      Here's the problem with your argument: If there had actually BEEN a word that described this "buying of silence" other than what you are describing is a "term of art" for the "influencing a public official", you would have INCLUDED that word in your pedantic diatribe.

      The fact that there is NOT a separate word for "bribe as a tort" (essentially), means that the word "bribe" is used to describe BOTH the CRIMINAL and NON-CRIMINAL acts.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Also, when they say "Samsung", so they mean the boss of Samsung (or rather his son who is actually running things at the moment) heard about it and made a phone call authorising the offer, or do they mean some provincial branch office in China somewhere decided to do it on their own and were subsequently fired?

      If it has been an Apple "genius" advising people not to hold their iPhone 4 that way, it wouldn't have become a meme. It was only noteworthy because it was Steve Jobs saying it.

    • Everybody's favorite type of argument: semantics

  • Only $900? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tempest_2084 ( 605915 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2016 @08:10AM (#53106713)
    If you're going to bribe someone to keep a major, possibly company destroying, event secret then you should probably offer him more than $900. Cheap out on the bribes and it will come back to bite you in the end.
    • Especially if the guy you are trying to bribe purchased an ~$850 smartphone a short while ago; and had immediate access to at least one other device capable of filming its fiery suicide. He may or may not have been able to sensibly afford it; but if he could scrape up enough cash and/or credit to get the seller to hand it over it is unlikely that he considers $900 to be some amazing amount of money.
    • The worst past? They tried to give him another Note 7 (!)
    • by I4ko ( 695382 )
      I think it wasn't the $900. I think it was adding insult to injury by offering him another Note 7. Perhaps if they gave him a different phone and $900 he would have kept quiet.
    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      If your product is spontaneously bursting into flames, attempting to bribe a fire fighter isn't going to go well.

      The pay is the same whether they are fighting fires or not, and with more fires, it's more work, dangerous, unhealthy, etc.

    • My guess is the Note had a sticker price of $900, so it was "refund your money and a new phone." Which, for a rare consumer defect isn't unusual or a bad deal.

      • for a rare consumer defect that couldn't POTENTIALLY SET MY HOUSE ON FIRE... yes

        for one that could, i think most people's consciences cost more than a grand. For someone who has fought fires for a living, it's probably significantly more than that.

        how much would it cost for you to look the other way as a toddler dies of smoke inhalation?

        • Oh, I see how what I wrote was vague. I meant it would be a reasonable response if it were a rare defect. Even if it could possibly set your house on fire. Obviously, if it did set your house on fire, they should offer more.

          As to if I would look away if a toddler had died, that seems crazy. A main reason I said it was reasonable, if it were rare, would be that there's little reason to think that public scrutiny would not help save lives.

          • i'd say refund your money and a new replacement... would not be adequate for a potentially fatal product, even if it's truly a rarity.

            i don't think it would be for a lot of people.

            If I bought a TV and two months in it starts spitting smoke and fire after normal use. And this is the first "samsung tv fire" i'd heard of...
            i'd probably see if it was something I did, nope nothing spilled, nothing chewed, nothing but a plugged in TV.
            i'd see if there was mention online
            i'd make mention online and post photos
            i'd c

    • "Hey, here's the cost of your phone and a little extra to keep this hush-hush"

      Samsung doesn't have the experience that Comcast and Microsoft have in bribing. First, it was only $900, not $50k. Second, it was to a private citizen, not an elected official. Third, it should have been a "campaign contribution" not a "bribe". Though I suppose things do work a little different in China than in the U.S.
    • If you're going to bribe someone to keep a major, possibly company destroying, event secret then you should probably offer him more than $900. Cheap out on the bribes and it will come back to bite you in the end.

      But that's like 10 billion yen... that's a huge number to the receiver. Oh. wait.

    • If you're going to bribe someone to keep a major, possibly company destroying, event secret then you should probably offer him more than $900. Cheap out on the bribes and it will come back to bite you in the end.

      a) it was closer to double that given they were also offered a replacement phone.
      b) depending on where in China this was $900 could have been a frigging fortune.
      c) you're kidding yourself if you think this is a company destroying event. It may be a company destroying event if you were a tiny little phone manufacturer. Samsung make frigging everything. They have existed long before smartphones. They existed long before feature phones. Shit they exists before computers and consumers electronics. They make eve

  • should have the book thrown at them and end up in jail; they were knowingly attempting to put people at risk just to protect their employer's profits. I doubt that Chinese police/enforcement should have too hard a time finding some legal reason to do this. Their manager should, likewise, spend time in a dungeon.

    Why do I want this ? If more individuals become held responsible for the acts that they do on behalf of their employers, the better off that the public will be in all sorts of ways. This applies all

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      It is also possible they tried to avoid having a thousand fraudulent claims, inspired by seeing the video, filed against Samsung that would make it more difficult, and by extension take longer, to find out what the actual problem with the phones was.

    • They were trying to keep the video from being published. Nothing says they were trying to put anyone at risk and not do a recall. I am sure their PR could have spun the recall better if the video was not posted.

      • Nothing says they were trying to put anyone at risk and not do a recall.

        If people are not aware that there is a problem with these things then they will be at greater risk than those who know to be wary.

        • Nothing about it says people will not be made aware of the problem. It is advantageous for Samsung to make it public in a way they can control and put a positive spin to the recall.

  • How much does a 23 year old former firefighter make in china? The 'former' would imply that he doesn't have a job. How can he afford this cutting edge phone and also a $900 personal integrity fee?

  • Firing squad for their CEO
  • Their entire economy runs on the stuff.
    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      Perhaps, but bribes don't work when it's blatantly against the taker's self-interest.

      Attempting to bribe a firefighter to cover up a product that spontaneously combusts is a losing move.

      Firefighters get paid the same whether there's a fire burning or not. It's a lot easier & safer to sit at the firehouse than fight an active fire.

    • And you think the USA is any better? It's just less obvious most of the time.

      • Yes, I think the USA is better. The Federal bribery laws in this country are some of the most stringently enforced laws on the books and carry enormous penalties.
        • The why has AT&T managed to reassemble itself and regain legislated local monopolies in virtually all states?

          Oh yes. FEDERAL bribery laws. They don't apply at state level.

          • The federal bribery laws apply at all levels, including international. If you can produce evidence that AT&T bribed state and local municipalities then I'm sure the feds would be all ears.
  • So they tried to avoid bad PR. Maybe I've become jaded, but where's the problem with that?

    The implication, I think, is that samsung had intended to cover it up in the hopes of preserving the Note line, but I think that'd be quite a stretch given everything else.

    • So they tried to avoid bad PR. Maybe I've become jaded, but where's the problem with that?

      The implication, I think, is that samsung had intended to cover it up in the hopes of preserving the Note line, but I think that'd be quite a stretch given everything else.

      What the heck? Talk about a gamble. It's already public news. Bribing or anything like a bribe to keep peoples' media/opinions/etc to themselves and getting caught doing it makes your "wrongness" look MANY times worse than just admitting fault and compensating those harmed. Not trying to argue with you, but come on..... If I have a mail server with tons of stuff and try to make it disappear after the public knows about it... Yeah.

      • Everyone has their price.

        Let's play a game. Would you eat a dog turd for 20 bucks? If you're like most people, you just had a "are you fucking kidding me? That'd be disgusting!" moment. You saw the amount I threw out there, but it was so low that you didn't give it a second thought.

        Now, what if I asked you if you'd eat a dog turd for 20,000? Bet you're considering it. 200,000? Even more so. 2,000,000...20,000,000... well, you get the idea.

        Let's bring this back around to the samsung situation; they

        • Everyone has their price.

          Let's play a game. Would you eat a dog turd for 20 bucks? If you're like most people, you just had a "are you fucking kidding me? That'd be disgusting!" moment. You saw the amount I threw out there, but it was so low that you didn't give it a second thought.

          Now, what if I asked you if you'd eat a dog turd for 20,000? Bet you're considering it. 200,000? Even more so. 2,000,000...20,000,000... well, you get the idea.

          Let's bring this back around to the samsung situation; they hoped to control the dialog, and in order to do that they need to control the news reports. If they could have gotten this guy on the payroll, it would have lessened the PR damage. They were already on the hook for the recall, they had to have known it, but perhaps they were looking to salvage the brand name.

          The only fault I have with this behavior is that they misread the situation and lowballed the guy. Some dumbass manager probably pulled the "penny wise pound foolish" card.

          Agreed. You have a good point.

          Side note... after you said "pound foolish", my brain jumped to creating some twitter thingie or something.. hash tag? As you can see, the end result is that I don't use Twitter. LOL.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When a Galaxy Note 7 caught fire in China, its owner started filming the damage.

    How? :P

    • When a Galaxy Note 7 caught fire in China, its owner started filming the damage. That's to be expected .

      My thoughts too. If you really believe that your phone is safe and you are not planning for this, why and how do you have another video recording device handy? Of course, the could be a legitimate answer to this, but it also could be that this was a complete set-up and the second camera was so handy because the phone destruction was planned. Maybe the bribe just wasn't in the range that this film maker

  • Imagine if the replacement also burnt up? He'd have the money from the bribe and then some!
  • In the original NYT article 'china' or 'chinese' is mentioned 29 times. For some reason it's impossible to complete a sentence without mentinoning China.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10... [nytimes.com]

    "They said there was no problem with the phones in China. That's why I bought a Samsung," said Mr. Zhang, a 23-year-old former firefighter. "This is an issue of deception. They are cheating Chinese consumers."

    Mr. Zhang, a salesman in the city of Fushun, in northeastern China, was a Samsung loyalist.

    After he rejected the offer from Samsung, Mr. Zhang quit his job and hit the road.

    Apparently there are two Mr. Zhangs. One 23 year old former firefighter (probably retired) who somehow is able to afford a Note 7, and a salesman who decided to quit his job and hit the road because his phone caught fire (who wouldn't?).

  • At least he had the training and skills to extinguish the fire caused by the phone explosion.

  • So, when he filmed one Note 7 burning, they brought him another one and enough money to get a decent camera. Apparently they wanted to film sequel, but perhaps "sequel" in Korean sounds like "bribe" in Chinese.

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