Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission has announced it is pursuing Federal Court action against Samsung, alleging it has mislead consumers by promoting the recent Galaxy S10 range of smartphones as water resistant.
If successful, the Federal Court could impose significant fines on Samsung for breaches of Australia’s consumer protection laws.
The suit arises from more than 300 advertisements which showed Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones being used underwater, in swimming pools and in the sea.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the world’s largest producer of smartphones had not conducted sufficient testing to know the actual effects of fresh water or saltwater exposure on its phones.
“The ACCC alleges Samsung’s advertisements falsely and misleadingly represented Galaxy phones would be suitable for use in, or for exposure to, all types of water … when this was not the case,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
Many would remember advertisements as recently as a couple of years ago showing Samsung’s phones being used in swimming pools by attractive models showing the phones off as “water resistant” when used to play music for a pool party (for example). However, common sense suggests that electronics and salt water often don’t mix very well, and this is one of the areas that the ACCC has an issue with.
The ACCC said consumers damaged their phones when exposing them to water and that Samsung had refused to honour warranty claims, which the company denied.
The ACCC also said Samsung’s advice to some Galaxy model users that the phones were not suitable for beach or pool use suggested the firm considered water could cause damage.
“Samsung showed the Galaxy phones used in situations they shouldn’t be to attract customers,” Sims said. “Samsung’s advertisements, we believe, denied consumers an informed choice and gave Samsung an unfair competitive advantage.”
Samsung Australia notes the legal action commenced by the ACCC and intends to defend the court proceedings. A Samsung Australia spokesperson gave this statement:
Samsung Electronics Australia (Samsung) notes the legal action launched against it today by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in relation to the marketing of a number of Samsung’s water resistant smartphones.
Samsung intends to defend the court proceedings brought by the ACCC.
Samsung stands by its marketing and advertising of the water resistancy of its smartphones. We are also confident that we provide customers with free-of-charge remedies in a manner consistent with Samsung’s obligations under its manufacturer warranty and the Australian Consumer Law.
Customer satisfaction is a top priority for Samsung and we are committed to acting in the best interest of our customers.
As someone who’s had a few phones (which were advertised as water resistant) die in swimming pools, showers and the like, I can well understand why the ACCC would be launching this action.
There’s nothing more frustrating than being given the understanding – from prolific advertising – that your phone can be used in a swimming pool, only to find out that this will completely kill it and you’ll be left out of warranty. Fortunately, the phone I had which suffered from this – an Xperia Z3 – was readily replaced by the retailer under warranty without any real questions asked.