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Samsung’s Taiwan operation investigated over alleged fake Web reviews criticizing HTC products

Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One X homescreen comparisonIf it turns out to be true, it won’t be the first time – and undoubtedly won’t be the last – that a business has been accused of orchestrating an underhand marketing campaign. The way of the Web means it’s easy to set up an account and post a positive review of your own business or a negative one of a rival, and it’s allegations of precisely this kind of activity that could be about to put Samsung in the soup.

Samsung’s Taiwan base has been accused of making up Internet posts recommending the Korean tech giant’s products while at the same time criticizing offerings made by rival HTC.

According to PC Advisor, Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission is currently investigating the matter, with Samsung facing a fine of up to NT$25 million ($835,000) if it’s found to have broken any rules.

The matter came to light when a Taiwan-based website published documents claiming to be from a marketing firm hired by Samsung that detailed various posts it had apparently made on the forums of a number of gadget sites.

“The topics covered included a user complaining that his girlfriend’s HTC One X phone was constantly crashing, and how Samsung’s Galaxy Note phone was superior to HTC’s Sensation XL handset,” PC Advisor said in its report.

On its local Facebook page, Samsung Taiwan appeared to admit it’d been up to something when it said that although it hadn’t yet heard anything from Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission, it had nevertheless “ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments.”

It added that from now on marketing would be carried out in line with Samsung’s philosophy of “transparent and honest communications with consumers.”

Samsung Taiwan went on to describe the incident as “unfortunate”, claiming it occurred “due to insufficient understanding” of its principles of transparency and honesty.

Whether HTC is prepared to let the matter rest there remains to be seen, with the company saying it’s considering taking “appropriate” action in response to the alleged incident. Meanwhile, Samsung Taiwan promised on its Facebook page that it would better train employees to make sure it didn’t happen again.

Competition between Samsung and HTC is fierce, with the Korean company coming to dominate the Android smartphone market in recent times, affecting HTC’s share of the market. HTC this year launched a new initiative called Marketing 2.0 in an effort to reestablish itself in the minds of consumers. Presumably it doesn’t involve posting unfavorable comments about products from rival firms….    

[via PC Advisor, BBC]