|An employee of Binh Minh Company in Ho Chi Minh City delivers gas cylinders to customers. The company suspects rivals are behind the jamming of its phone lines after many customers chose Binh Minhâs service over others.|
A Ho Chi Minh City-based retail gas traderâs robust efforts to garner a greater market share by providing better service and incentives have been countered by sabotage, company officials say.
In a market riddled with fraudulent practices that Thanh Nien Daily has reported on earlier, Binh Minh Company seems to be paying the price for staying âstraightâ to gain customer confidence.
For some 20 days running until the end of last month, customers were unable to contact the District 4-based cooking gas retailer because its phone lines were constantly jammed with unwanted calls.
Binh Minh managers say it was the work of rivals, angry at the prospect of losing their business.
Cao Tien Chuong, a senior company official, said they were receiving thousands of phone calls almost every second from 9 a.m. until noon and during the evening every day.
âWhen our employees picked up the phones, the callers hung up,â Chuong said. âWe made little business then as customers couldnât call to place an order.â
The companyâs record of incoming calls showed that the callers used prepaid SIM cards, for which people donât need any identity registration.
Just one telephone number was shown to have made 318 phone calls to the company in six days.
The eight phone operators of the company couldnât manage the 25 telephones from six lines that kept ringing constantly.
Several times, company Director Nguyen Van Duc had to jump in and answer phones.
âIt was ringing so noisily that we had to cover all the speakers,â Duc said.
âBut the employees have to stay on duty all the time because of the chance a call could be from our customers.â
Chuong said âthe phoning terrorâ started two days after the company on February 8 launched a special offer targeting customers in its new branch in Phu Nhuan District.
Under the program, customers would receive a set of three stainless steel knives when buying the first 12kg gas cylinder, and a set of six glasses for the second one bought from the branch.
The biggest offer earlier by other retailers was a bottle of dishwashing soap or half a kilogram of sugar, worth less than VND10,000 (US$0.57).
An unidentified gas retailer in Phu Nhuan District said two weeks after
Binh Minh Company launched the promotion program, he lost more than half of his customers, with sales dropping to one third â“ about 10-12kg cylinders a day.
Starting this month, each 12kg gas cylinder costs VND205,000 ($12), down VND10,000 from last month, the cityâs major gas companies including Saigon Petro, Gia Dinh Gas and Vina Gas have confirmed.
Many retailers in Phu Nhuan, Go Vap and Binh Thanh districts have also expressed fear their businesses would suffer as a result of Binh Minhâs campaign.
They said Binh Minh employees had called on every household and persuaded them to use the gas brand included in the companyâs promotional program.
âThey would weigh the remaining gas in each cylinder that they took from the customers and return the money for that,â said a gas seller.
The sellers affected by Binh Minh Companyâs campaign even lodged complaints with the authorities.
However, Chuong said Binh Minhâs employees only replaced the brands âwhen the customers felt interested in the promotion program and wanted to switch to other brands.â
Hong of Phu Nhuan Districtâs Ward 2 said it was not just the gifts, but the professional service of the companyâs employees that âmade us confident.â
âThey wear uniforms and name-tags when distributing the cylinders. They weigh the cylinders in front of our eyes and they have different equipment to check if the cylinders are safe,â Hong said.
Typically, retailers trade in different brands and switch from one to another as requested by the customers.
âIf other retailers use that reason to take revenge by bombing us with phone calls, it is unacceptable,â said Duc.
An official in the gas industry who wished to remain unnamed said customers were favoring Binh Minh because theyâd lost patience with underweight gas cylinders, and fake gas brands.
âTheyâve been overexcited about a program that simply takes good care of them.â
Source: Tuoi Tre