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Samsung sued for "misleading" Galaxy phones water resistance ads

Samsung Australia was ordered to pay almost AUD 14M (around USD 9.7M) due to misleading water resistance claims for its Galaxy devices.
Samsung sued for "misleading" Galaxy phones water resistance ads
An ad for Samsung Galaxy A5 on its website (Photo from ACCC)

Wrong representation of Galaxy phones in advertisements

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking Samsung to court, accusing the tech giant of misleading consumers. Allegedly, the ads implied that some Galaxy phones sold in Australia can withstand being submerged in a pool or sea water while knowing they were not. ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb added,

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.

Gottlieb explained that they had reviewed hundreds of complaints from consumers who reported that they experienced issues with their Galaxy phones after it was exposed to water. She said that in several cases, they reported their Galaxy phone stopped working entirely.
A sponsored post for Samsung Galaxy Note 8 on Instagram (Photo from ACCC)
A sponsored post for Samsung Galaxy Note 8 on Instagram (Photo from ACCC)

Between March 2016 and October 2018, the company rolled out a marketing campaign that included nine ads, published across its own website, in-store, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Apparently, these ads represented that these Galaxy phones were suitable to be used in pools and seawater.

Samsung Australia has admitted that if the Galaxy phones were immersed in the pool or seawater, there is a strong possibility the charging port would become corroded and stop working if the phone was charged while still wet.

The false claims regarding water resistance were promoting the S7, S7 Edge, A5 (2017), A7 (2017), S8, S8 Plus, and Note 8. The source reported that there were more than 3.1M of these Galaxy phones got sold in Australia.

As a consequence, the Federal Court penalized Samsung for AUD 14 million. Samsung admitted that it had violated Australian Consumer Law and made joint submissions with the ACCC regarding penalties and orders.

Meanwhile, consumers who bought one of the mentioned Galaxy phones and experienced damage to the charging port after submerging the phone in the pool or sea water are urged to contact Samsung Australia.

Gottlieb noted that the penalty strongly reminds businesses that all product claims must be verified. She also emphasized that ACCC "will continue to take enforcement action against businesses that mislead consumers with claims about the nature or benefits of their products."

Source: ACCC

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