Huawei responds to dispute over dubious Mate 10 Pro reviews on Best Buy website

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The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is already a controversial release in the United States, due to deals with carriers falling through at the last minute, but now some aggressive marketing tactics have been revealed that bring the wrong kind of attention to the device again. In the near future the Mate 10 Pro will be sold through several online retailers in the United States, including Best Buy, where it has attracted dozens of very positive review-style comments already.

These comments have been linked to a Huawei-backed promotion that allows a handful of people writing non-reviews on the Best Buy page to be chosen to beta-test the Mate 10 Pro in the United States. The promotion was posted on a Facebook page for both Huawei and Honor beta programs, and while the original has been removed, a screenshot was published by 9to5Google. It called for U.S. Mate 10 Pro beta testers with this carefully worded entry requirement: “Tell us why you want to own the Mate 10 Pro in the review section of our pre-sale Best Buy retail page,” followed by a link and a request to share the entry in the Facebook post comments.

At the time of writing there are 72 reviews on the Best Buy Mate 10 Pro page with 95 percent recommending the device, and an average rating of 4.8 stars out of five. Reading a selection of the comments, some do appear to come from individuals who have used the phone, while others do not. Others directly reference the beta test program promoted by Huawei, and use the review section to say why they should be chosen, and at the same time giving the Mate 10 Pro five stars.

Brand awareness

Anyone reading the vast majority of these comments wouldn’t be fooled into thinking they were genuine reviews of the phone, as many reviewers explicitly say they haven’t used it; but soliciting these comments — and gaining such a high average star rating before the phone is even on sale — puts Huawei in a poor light at a time when there is considerable attention on its conduct.

Fake reviews are not uncommon or anything new, and Huawei certainly isn’t the first to push or incentivize the public for comments to raise a product’s profile online. What’s disappointing here is not only that the Mate 10 Pro’s actual reviews posted by tech publications are almost all extremely positive, but it could damage the firm’s reputation at a crucial time. Huawei’s senior vice president of marketing Ketrina Dunagan said, “Brand awareness comes first,” during a meeting with Digital Trends at CES 2018, while CEO Richard Yu pledged to “win the trust of global consumers,” in his keynote presentation. Dubious marketing tactics run against that purpose and won’t help Huawei achieve its goals.

In response to the reviews, Huawei told Digital Trends: “Huawei’s first priority is always the consumer and we encourage our customers to share their experiences with our devices in their own voice and through authentic conversation. We believe there is confusion around a recent social media post reaching out to recruit new beta testers. While there are reviews from beta testers with extensive knowledge of the product, they were in no way given monetary benefits for providing their honest opinions of the product. However, we are working to remove posts by beta testers where it isn’t disclosed they participated in the review program.”

It’s unlikely the reviews will stay on Best Buy’s site, as most do not meet the company’s standard for acceptable comments.

Updated on February 14: Added comment from Huawei