Shoppers flee WeMakePrice after hiring scandal

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Shoppers flee WeMakePrice after hiring scandal


Unfair hiring practices regarding entry-level workers often are ignored, but with youth unemployment at a record high and recruitment at a low, anger from desperate graduates can resonate with the public and lead to a consumer boycott.

WeMakePrice, a popular daily deal site, faces an avalanche of criticism and exodus of subscribers after it fired 11 recent job applicants after training them for two weeks.

Koreans have recently grown wary of the high-handed management practices of corporations, particularly after the Korean Air “nut rage” incident.

Eleven entry-level applicants at WeMakePrice completed their two-week probation period, during which they worked an average of 10 hours per day.

But none of them was offered a position at the e-commerce company, even though the initial job posting said some of the finalists would be employed as regular workers.

When the controversy emerged on Jan. 8, WeMakePrice said none of the applicants was qualified for the job.

The company’s response fueled public backlash and some users of the site began advocating canceling memberships.

From Jan. 9-11, the number of visitors at WeMakePrice slumped by 25 percent compared to the same period the previous week, according to research company Korean Click.

The decline made it the third most popular daily deal site, after Coupang and TMON. WeMakePrice is usually the second most visited site after Coupang.

The company issued an apology on Friday and reversed its decision.

“We changed our decision and will hire the 11 applicants who made it to the third phase of testing,” said Park Eun-sang, CEO of WeMakePrice, in a statement.

“We admit that we lacked communication and failed to properly express our genuine intentions. We are now committed to training applicants with high potential instead of looking for someone perfectly prepared to undertake tasks.”

But the follow-up move did not appease the public.

On Internet forums frequented by young people, many postings showed a screenshot of a canceled membership at the troubled e-commerce company.

Many youths have taken a personal interest in the hiring scandal.

“I know that some of my friends are looked down on and mistreated in hiring processes or when they go through a recruiting process,” said Kim Jin-hyun, a 29-year-old business graduate. “I asked my friends to stop using the site.”

The Ministry of Employment and Labor launched an investigation earlier this week to look into whether the company violated any labor laws.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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