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ACCC Has “Waterproof” Phone Makers In Its Sights

ACCC Has "Waterproof" Phone Makers In Its Sights“Waterproof” may conjure up various ideas of the degree of water contact a phone can withstand, and the ACCC wants to make sure any representations made by companies are clear.

“Representations about waterproof mobile phones are an area where manufacturers and retailers can improve compliance,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims stated at the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network conference in Sydney today.

“The ACCC and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) received a number of complaints that relate to mobile phones that have been advertised as ‘waterproof’ or ‘water resistant’.”

Sims did not single out any particular company, however Fairfax Media has today reported readers as complaining about the waterproof capabilities of Sony phones.

As reported by Fairfax, while it is not clear exactly which phone readers were using or the situation that led to the damage, the issue is that some consumers are being given the impression that their phone is broadly resistant to water contact, when this is not the case.

Sony provides information on IP (Ingress Protection) ratings, which it explains are used to measure a device’s levels of protection against dust and water, via its support site, advising consumers to be aware of their device’s capabilites and limits.

According to the IP ratings, water resistance can vary markedly from device to device.

The varying levels of water resistance range from dripping through to continued immersion, however even when immersed, different ratings additionally specify as to how deep and how long a device can be submerged.

Sony also advises consumers to not to use their device in a hot shower or in salt water, or to let the micro USB port, headset jack or other uncovered parts come into contact with salt water, while prolonged use in chlorinated water is not recommended.

In addressing ACCC concerns about waterproof phones, Sims stated that representations include pictures of phones being used in and around pools.

Sims stated companies have been put on notice regarding the ACCC’s concerns.

“Consumers have complained that after using their phone in or near water, their phone no longer worked,” he commented. “While retailers have pointed to small print which states what ‘waterproof’ or ‘water resistant’ means – and more importantly, what it doesn’t mean –  we are concerned that these qualifications were not very clear.

“We are also concerned that consumers may have been denied their rights under the consumer guarantees of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) after their device stopped working because of water-related damage.

“We have put those companies on notice of our concerns and will be watching to make sure any future representations that are made about waterproof phones are accurate.”