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ACCC Slam Samsung For Water Resistance Ads

The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Samsung Electronics Australia for “false, misleading and deceptive representations” about its smartphones’ water resistance.

The consumer watchdog claims Samsung “widely advertised” (on social media, TV and billboards) that its Galaxy phones were water resistant, depicting their usage in [or exposed to] oceans and swimming pools.

The phones in subject include the Galaxy S10e, S10, S10 Plus, S9, S9 Plus, S8, S8 Plus, S7, S7 Edge, Note 9, Note 8, Note 7, A8, A7, and A5 – manufactured between 2016 and 2019.

Samsung Australia asserts it will “stand by” the marketing of its phone water resistance, defending court proceedings brought by the ACCC:

“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.”

“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, including in ocean water and swimming pools, and would not be affected by such exposure to water for the life of the phone, when this was not the case,” asserts ACCC Chair, Rod Sims.

Samsung reportedly advertised its Galaxy phones as being water resistant up to 1.5 metres deep for 30 minutes – with the ACCC analysing over 300 advertisements.

The regulator claims Samsung did not have reasonable grounds for making such representations because:

  • It did not test or know of testing (or sufficient testing) about how exposing a Galaxy phone to water (including non-fresh water) affected its usable life;
  • It held the view that using Galaxy phones in liquid other than fresh water could damage them. For example, Samsung’s website states that the new Galaxy S10 phone range is ‘not advised for beach or pool use’;
  • It has denied warranty claims from consumers whose phones were damaged when used in water.

The ACCC asserts the Galaxy phones are also not suitable in all types of water, and the life of the phones would likely be adversely affected if used in water.

The Korean giant has sold over four million Galaxy branded phones in Australia, with the regulator asserting its ads showed the phones being used in improper scenarios.

“Samsung showed the Galaxy phones used in situations they shouldn’t be to attract customers,” adds Sims.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law, businesses cannot mislead consumers about their products’ capabilities. Any attempt to do so will risk court action from the ACCC.”

Samsung Galaxy phones advertised as water resistant are said to be sold at a higher prices than other models.

The ACCC is seeking penalties, consumer redress orders, injunctions, declarations, publication orders, an order as to findings of fact, and costs.

 

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