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Huawei blockade by Google leaves Vietnamese customers, retailers on tenterhooks

Wednesday, May 22, 2019, 16:55 GMT+7
Huawei blockade by Google leaves Vietnamese customers, retailers on tenterhooks
Customers test out Huawei smartphones at a mobile phone store in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

A gloomy future when Google would cut ties with Huawei has left both owners of the Chinese company’s smartphones and retailers in Vietnam on edge, with the customers fearing their devices will soon be bricked and mobile stores fretting over possible unsold stocks.

Vietnamese customers have taken to mobile retailers' websites or physically visited their stores to seek consulting about the fate of their Huawei devices, despite a dramatic twist in the U.S.-Huawei fight that made global headlines earlier this week.

Google said on Sunday it would suspend business with Huawei in order to comply with Washington’s decision to ‘blacklist’ the Chinese company over spying concerns.

However, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced shortly thereafter that it had granted a 90-day grace period, during which mobile phone companies and Internet broadband providers are allowed to work with Huawei to keep existing networks online and protect users from security risks.

The exemption also allows Google to send software updates to Huawei phones which use its Android operating system through to August 19, business news channel CNBC reports.

Despite this new development of the story and an official statement from Huawei reassuring users that their devices will continue to receive updates, disgruntled users have taken to both social media and physical mobile stores, asking to receive support or be allowed to return their devices in the belief that the retailers have a legal obligation to take back the phones and pay them back.

Hoang Nguyen, who lives in Ho Chi Minh City’s BinhThanh District, bought a Huawei smartphone a few months back and now feels the amount of money he spent on the gadget will soon become nothing but a loss.

Nguyen and other users demand that mobile retailers give them some kinds of support, or had better take the handsets back and refund them, he told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

But this is understandably something beyond the authority of Huawei distributors and retailers in Vietnam.

A Huawei P30 smartphone is on display at a smartphone store in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bong Mai / Tuoi Tre

A Huawei P30 smartphone is on display at a smartphone store in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Bong Mai / Tuoi Tre

In fact, retailers and distributors of Huawei products in Vietnam are also like a cat on hot bricks, as they have yet to receive any guidance from Huawei regarding policies for unsold stocks and return demands by customers.

Dang Thanh Phong, PR and marketing manager of Vietnamese mobile retailer The Gioi Di Dong, told Tuoi Tre that the company understands customers’ concerns and is trying their best to ensure their rights and interests.

Nguyen Viet Anh, deputy general director of another local mobile retailer, FPT Shop, said the firm’s return policy applicable to products purchased within 30 days remains in effect for all devices, including those made by Huawei.

As sales of Huawei smartphones have slowed down in Vietnam following news of the Google ban, local mobile retailer CellphoneS has launched a campaign to persuade customers not to turn their back on the Chinese company.

Buyers of Huawei products bought at CellphoneS between May 21 and 31 are allowed to return their products within 30 days free of charge.

In the meantime, other consumers are waiting for a chance to buy Huawei premium smartphones at attractive prices, as many existing users have started to bargain away their handsets, while hoping that retailers will launch promotional campaigns with huge discounts to clear their Huawei stock.

But Huynh Thanh Phi, director of Leo Brothers, a media and communication company having experience in working with mobile phone brands, said such discount campaigns are beyond the bounds of possibility.

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