With the World Cup over and the sound of vuvuzelas thankfully fading away, you might think it's time for business as usual to begin again. Toshiba, however, appears hooked on the excitement, fun, and motonous buzzing a PR crisis can deliver. Back in early June, the company ran a series of ads in Germany, England, Portugal, Italy, and Spain. The terms were (seemingly) simple: Buy a Toshiba product prior to the end of the world cup, and if your team won it all, Toshiba would refund your purchase.
According to our crack team of translators, if Team Red wins, you win. Provided you used your Toshiba decoder ring to find the hidden information underneath the bathmat in your mother's apartment.
After Spain's victory, loyal Spaniards trooped over to Toshiba's website only to be slapped in the face. According to the company, there was a hidden stipulation to the contract. In order to collect on the deal, customers were required to register their purchases before June 17. If you consult the ad above, you might note that this particular clause is nowhere in sight. The blog entry states: "In addition, Toshiba also makes the time limit to claim the money, noting that all applications received after August 2 will be rejected and forced to submit original documents and confirming that only have one chance to claim (in fact recommend sending certified mail with delivery)."
Several sites are also claiming that the fine print spelling out the need for registration didn't even start appearing until after
the registration date had passed.
If Toshiba continues with this absurd bait-and-switch it could find itself in trouble on two fronts. EU consumer laws tend to be tougher than their US counterparts and there's precious little sign of any good faith on Toshiba's part. Even if the EU never gets involved, this is the sort of situation that any of Toshiba's competitors could easily turn to its advantage. As we noted earlier, Asus and Toshiba are both in a struggle
for fifth place in terms of global PC shipments—Asus would do well to consider offering jilted Toshiba customers a $100-$200 coupon off their next Asus purchase.