Don’t use your phones in the water, even if we implied you can use them in the water!
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has brought Samsung to court accusing them of falsely advertising that their smartphones are heavily water-resistant even if the company knows they aren’t. The dispute caused Samsung to pay around AUD 14 million (~Php 534 million or USD 9.7 million) for damages. The court stated that Samsung had violated Australian Consumer Law and had made joint submissions with the ACCC regarding penalties and orders.
The ACCC accused Samsung of misleading its users by claiming that they could submerge their phones in pools or seawater due to the advertised water-resistant feature. Some phones that were advertised for this feature include the Samsung Galaxy S8 series, the Galaxy Note 8 series, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, the Galaxy A5 (2017), and the Galaxy A7 (2017). Combined, about 3.1 million of these phones were sold in Australia.
Between March 2016 and October 2018, Samsung conducted a series of marketing campaigns, which included nine ads published across popular social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; as well as on its Australian website, and in its physical stores, which represented that the phones were suitable to be used in pools or in sea water.
However, after these advertising campaigns were done, Samsung Australia admitted that these were, in fact, not suitable to be used in such areas and if water contaminated the charging ports, it would damage them and/or completely stop working.
“Samsung Australia’s water-resistance claims promoted an important selling point for these Galaxy phones. Many consumers who purchased a Galaxy phone may have been exposed to the misleading ads before they made their decision to purchase a new phone,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.
“We reviewed hundreds of complaints from consumers who reported they experienced issues with their Galaxy phones after it was exposed to water and, in many cases, they reported their Galaxy phone stopped working entirely,” she added.
Users who bought any of the aforementioned Galaxy phones and experienced problems in using them in pools or sea water should urgently contact Samsung Australia.
Gottlieb stated that the penalties should be a reminder to other companies to make all their product claims proven and tested. Furthermore, she emphasized that the ACCC will take strong action against any company that misleads consumers about the benefits and features of their products.