Harvey Norman's laptop move a 'bit cynical' says marketing expert

Dick Smith’s receiver has said vouchers, deposits and deliveries cannot be honoured because of its financial situation, leaving many customers out of pocket.. Photo / Michael Craig
Dick Smith’s receiver has said vouchers, deposits and deliveries cannot be honoured because of its financial situation, leaving many customers out of pocket.. Photo / Michael Craig

Harvey Norman could be seen as a "little bit cynical" for publicly giving a laptop to a 10-year-old girl burned by Dick Smith's receivership but will earn huge public goodwill by doing it, says a marketing expert.

Auckland's Zoe, 10, saved $280 from money she earned doing household chores to buy a laptop from the electronics mega-store Dick Smith.

Her mother, Rachel, topped her savings up and bought a $480 Dick Smith voucher that she planned to redeem this week.

However, Dick Smith's receiver has said this week that vouchers, deposits and deliveries cannot be honoured because of its financial situation, leaving many customers out of pocket.

But now retail giant Harvey Norman has stepped up and offered to give the little girl a laptop.

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A company spokesperson said they were planning to bring Zoe into one of its Botany stores this month where she would be able to pick out a device.

Rachel said she was "stoked" with the news and was happy she would "not going to have an upset little girl".

Bodo Lang, senior lecturer in marketing at the University of Auckland Business School, said it was a "great move" on Harvey Norman's part.

"The cost of the laptop would be, say, $500 but the media mileage and public relations goodwill you get out of these sorts of actions will be a hundred times greater than the small cost they will incur for it," he said.

"Yes it's a nice thing to do but it's just good business sense because they will get massive media mileage out of this," he said.

Asked if the move could be seen as cynical, Lang agreed but also pointed out that other companies could have done the same thing and had not.

"You could be naive and say 'this is just a lovely thing and they [Harvey Norman] are just doing this' but if they were doing it just for the benefit of the girl without wanting any other benefit then they would do this very quietly behind closed doors...but it's just good business sense to share this," he said.

The retailer's move comes three months after it refused to honour purchases of big ticket items that were priced at less than $100 by mistake during a botched online sale.

- NZ Herald

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