Xiaomi has just entered the UK market, but it’s already gotten into trouble over a shady promotional campaign. Anyone familiar with the brand knows that the company holds flash sales which somehow finish before it’s even started, but consumers in the UK were in for a surprise when this happened to them.
As chronicled by the BBC, Xiaomi started a “Crazy Deals” ad campaign last week where it promised the Mi 8 Lite and Mi A2 at just £1 each. However, people who participated in the flash sale were greeted with a “Sold Out” sign the moment the process began.
Xiaomi Flash Sale Scam
This naturally left a lot of folks feeling cheated, so much so that the UK’s ad watchdog is deciding whether to investigate based on a complaint they received. A Twitter sleuth named Phil Williams analyzed the site’s code and discovered that it had been set to say “Out of stock” the moment the countdown timer expired.
It seems Xiaomi had only set aside 10 units of both phones for the four flash sales it held. The first two sales only put 3 units each on offer, while the last two were restricted to just 2 units each. That’s a ridiculously low number, especially for a brand as big as Xiaomi.
Plus, Xiaomi didn’t even clearly mention how many units were going to be available. Users would have to go to its terms and conditions page to see exactly how many units were up for grabs. The company faced a massive backlash on Facebook after the sale ended, with many saying it would lose customers over this duplicity.
Xiaomi is now defending itself against these allegations with a statement on Twitter. It seems the promotion was less of a sale and more of a lottery. The people who pressed the buy button closest to the set time were automatically added to the lottery and the system then decided who got the £1 smartphone randomly.
There’s no talk of a lottery in the aforementioned terms and conditions page, just a sentence stating that the devices would be handed over on a “first-come, first-serve basis.” Xiaomi has clearly messed up its UK debut and it’ll have to work extra hard to win back consumer trust.