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Huawei says sorry to irate customers after S$54 discounted phones 'sold out' within hours of 3-day promotion

SINGAPORE — As frustrated consumers went home empty-handed, Huawei announced on Friday (July 26) that its Y6 Pro 2019 mobile phones had sold out across the island within hours on the first day of a promotion. The handsets were to go on offer at S$54 a piece from Friday to Sunday.

Huawei says sorry to irate customers after S$54 discounted phones 'sold out' within hours of 3-day promotion

A crowd formed outside the Huawei Concept Store at Northpoint City in Yishun on the morning of July 26, 2019, for the discounted Y6 Pro 2019 mobile phones.

SINGAPORE — As frustrated consumers went home empty-handed, Huawei announced on Friday (July 26) that its Y6 Pro 2019 mobile phones had sold out across the island within hours on the first day of a promotion. The handsets were to go on offer at S$54 a piece from Friday to Sunday.

The police were called in to at least one mall due to the huge number of people queueing for the phone sets and one woman said that the situation was unsafe for seniors as the offer was for people aged 50 and above. 

In an apology published on its Facebook page, the Chinese technology giant said that it was unable to provide the “vast majority” of customers with the promotion due to “overwhelming demand”.

“We are truly sorry to have disappointed those who have showed your support from early morning,” the statement read.

In response to TODAY’s queries, a Huawei spokesperson declined to reveal the total number of handsets made available for the promotion, but said that it had put up the Facebook announcement based on estimates of the number of people in the queues.

The offer was launched in conjunction with Singapore’s 54th National Day and was targeted at Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents, aged 50 and above as of Dec 31 this year, at all its 27 Huawei Concept stores and selected retailers.

The original price of the Huawei Y6 Pro 2019 is S$198.

In its Facebook post, the company asked customers not to visit its outlets for the promotion “as all units have been sold out”. 

At 11.30am, Huawei posted an update to say that its outlets in Tampines Mall, Bugis Junction, Lot 1, Jurong Point, 313@somerset would be closing for the rest of Friday “for safety and security reasons”. About 50 minutes later, another five outlets in various malls — Westgate, VivoCity, Nex, Jem and Northpoint City — were added to the list. 

Madam Janice Lim, a 60-year-old engineering coordinator, told TODAY that she went to a Huawei retailer at Block 101, Yishun Avenue 5, at 10am on Friday to buy the discounted phone after reading about the promotion in a newspaper. 

She said she was informed by the salesperson that queues at the store had started forming much earlier and there were only 10 phones in stock. She was then directed to the Huawei Concept Store at Northpoint City which may have more sets available.

At the mall, she saw a huge crowd and “two policemen”. “The Northpoint Concept Store is in a very small passageway in Basement 1, and the queue stretched from (the store) to NTUC FairPrice suermarket. My legs started to shake because I saw that it was dangerous,” Mdm Lim said.

She then moved up to the first floor of the building and called the police to inform them of the situation. She later saw more policemen and security officers arriving at the scene and said that the policemen used loudspeakers to disperse the crowds.

“I could see the crowd getting angry and frustrated.” 

She slammed Huawei for putting seniors “in danger” with its publicity gimmick. “If you are only giving out (so few) pieces at each store, then why advertise on WhatsApp and in the media?

Media reports had emerged on Friday morning about snaking queues forming island-wide at Huawei outlets. Members of the public circulated on social media the videos and pictures of crowds queueing up for the promotion at places such as the Courts Megastore in Tampines and Jewel Changi Airport.

CNA reported that customers at Jewel Changi Airport, VivoCity, Nex and Toa Payoh had been notified by Huawei employees that only 20 to 30 units were allocated to each shop. 

Early on Friday afternoon, Huawei said that it would launch another promotion on Saturday for the flagship model Huawei Mate 20 at S$568 (usual price S$998), “while stocks last at all Challenger outlets”.

However, it said later in the day: “The promotion has been cancelled and Huawei is assessing other possibilities to make it up for the disappointment caused today.”

PATRONS ENRAGED

When TODAY spoke to some patrons outside the Huawei store at Northpoint City mall on Friday afternoon, many said that they were frustrated at the mismanaged expectations and poor handling of the crowds.

A 91-year-old man, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lee, said that he did not manage to buy the phone even though he had started queueing at 6am — five hours before the outlet opened.

“People have been here since early in the morning. Only when it was almost 11am, then they told us that there were just 44 phones. So many people came and you only have 44 phones,” he lamented.

Another disappointed customer was retiree Teng Kian Chong, who joined the line at around 10am, only to find out from the shop's employees about an hour later that there were just 44 phones to be sold under the promotion.

Mr Teng, who did not want to give his age, said: “I am very angry, because they never said that there was such limited stock. And they didn’t even tell the people in the queue. After I got this information, straight away I walked to the tail (end of the queue) and said, ‘44, don’t queue, don’t queue’.

“The service is very bad, very poor arrangement. Torture the Singaporeans, torture the old people.”

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