Explosions of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 have made headlines around the world recently. While the U.S. government already issued an official recall of the new device, the Korean phone manufacturer's hesitation in China is irking consumers, who are sensitive to being overlooked in mass recalls.
After a few Chinese users took to social media to post pictures of their exploded phones, Samsung released an equivocal response, saying the phones exploded due to external heat, without directly accusing anyone. This caused a stir on Chinese social media, with users challenging the implications behind Samsung's claim. One user asked, "Well, do you want me to use my phone in the refrigerator?" Another commenter declared, "I don't feel even a sliver of sincerity!"
However, a day later on September 20th, South Korean media reports accused the affected Chinese users of intentionally cooking their phones. Aside from Samsung's findings that the exploded phones resulted from external heating, they have also made clear that they used a different battery supplier for their Chinese supply chain.
One user brought up an interesting point, though they were asking the question rhetorically, believing their suggestion sounded ludicrous. "Well, are Chinese consumers committing 碰瓷 (pengci) then? Looks like the courts will have to solve this case."
Pengci literally translates to bumping porcelain. It is a word used to describe a recent phenomenon in China whereby individuals intentionally hurt themselves. They hope to secure some sort of financial compensation for their injury, either unofficially at the scene of the accident, or through legal assistance. People have run out onto freeways with the aim of getting hit, but not severely enough to die. They would then demand compensation from the driver. These individuals often commit the act together with a group of accomplices ready to accuse the driver.
If Samsung's claims are true, which the evidence seems to suggest is the case, then the users accused of intentionally cooking their phones could indeed be committing a case of pengci. This is especially true assuming the Galaxy 7 explosions are highly dangerous.
But if Samsung's claims are disproven, the phone giant will surely lose a big chunk of China's lucrative phone market. Either way, as Apple has launched the iPhone 7 and domestic competitors are offering comparable options at significantly lower prices, Samsung faces an uphill battle.