Image credit: Nelson Wu.
As promised, CCTV’s 3.15 programme took on another foreign corporate giant over the weekend. 3.15, which has previously exposed malpractice at McDonalds and Walmart, ran a lengthy exposé of what it said were examples of anti-Chinese bias by American tech giant Apple.
Tech in Asia reports:
In the report, [CCTV] claims that Chinese customers are treated differently than customers in developed countries when getting Apple devices repaired. For example, when replacing an iPhone in England, the report states, customers get an all-new device. But Chinese customers get their old, used back covers (the black or white piece of metal that forms the back part of the phone’s casing) attached to the otherwise-new replacement devices. From the CCTV report:
Isn’t [Apple] here earning Chinese people’s money? Outside China, they will give you a new back cover for free [when they replace your device] but they won’t change Chinese back covers for you. Why are Chinese consumers [treated as] less than others? This is very unfair to Chinese consumers.
Later, the report shows an Apple worker telling a CCTV reporter than back covers are separate, and that getting a new back cover for one’s replaced phone will cost an extra 580 RMB ($92).
Following the show’s broadcast, celebrities and commentators chimed in on Weibo to excoriate Apple for hurting the feelings of the Chinese people (or something). However, suspicions were raised that an astroturf campaign might be taking place when actor Peter Ho posted the following message (emphasis added):
Apple plays so many tricks with their customer service? I feel hurt as an Apple fan. Have you done right by [Steve] Jobs? Have you done right by boys who sell their kidneys [to buy iphones], this is an example of big-name shops bullying customers. To publish around 8.20pm.
Netizens theorised that Ho had been enlisted by CCTV to support 3.15’s attack against Apple, but the actor was too dense, when copying and pasting the message, not to delete the last line. Ho, demonstrating that he’s definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer later posted:
Now it’s me in person. Someone stole my Weibo account and posted the previous Weibo. Will someone tell me what’s going on? This is ridiculous!
Another victim of those dastardly consumer advocate hackers! As scorn was heaped upon Ho, other celebrities were forced to deny that they too had been paid off or otherwise enlisted by CCTV.
According to SCMP, ex-Google China head Kaifu Lee said he’d been invited by show organisers to post comments on Weibo but declined. Lee said he would have accepted if the topics had been as important as “air, water, and food safety in China.”
Popular blogger and commentator Li Chengpeng delivered a body blow to the network, writing:
CCTV, you are blind to Chinese children being attacked at schools, but you see school massacres abroad; you never criticise fake elections at home, but always report shoe-throwings in foreign parliaments; you don’t pressure officials to disclose their assets at home, but you are so excited when a foreign official gets caught drinking a bottle of wine paid by taxpayers’ money.