Is Samsung misleading consumers with false claims about its water-resistant Galaxy mobile phones? This is what a federal court in Australia is set to determine in the weeks and months ahead.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had sued Samsung Electronics Australia Pty (Samsung) alleging it made false, misleading and deceptive advertisements on the water resistance of various Galaxy-branded mobile phones.
It said the legal action was initiated after reviewing more than 300 Samsung adverts, including the S10e, S10, S10+, S9, S9+, S8, S8+, S7, S7 Edge, Note 9, Note 8, Note 7, A8, A7, and A5, manufactured between 2016 and 2019.
The ACCC noted that Samsung has been advertising on social media, online, TV, billboards, brochures, and other media that the Galaxy phones are water resistant and depicted them being used in, or exposed to, oceans and swimming pools. It said the representations are false, misleading, and deceptive because the Galaxy phones were not suitable for use in all types of water.
The devices come with an IP68 rating, which translates to protection under 1.5 meters of fresh water for 30 minutes. But the company has been advertising its devices at beaches, swimming pools, oceans, and other non-freshwater bodies thus portraying water resistance in all kinds of water thereby misleading consumers to believe it can be submerged in any type of water.
Samsung’s Galaxy phones which were advertised as being water resistant were sold at a higher price than Samsung phones which do not have this feature.
Rod Sims, chairman of ACCC who described the adverts as deceptive, argued that they denied consumers an informed choice and gave Samsung an unfair competitive advantage, because “water resistance is an important factor influencing Australian consumer decisions when they choose what mobile phone to purchase.”
“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,” Sims said.
Meanwhile, all of the adverts by Samsung Australia on social media listed by the ACCC in the legal notice are said to have been removed. Nonetheless, Samsung has denied any wrongdoing relating to the marketing of its water resistant smartphones. “Samsung stands by its marketing and advertising of the water resistance 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, Samsung said in response to the lawsuit.
What Consumers Should Know!
This lawsuit should be of interest to consumers worldwide because Samsung is a global brand and Galaxy, its flagship smartphones is sold worldwide.
Buyers of Samsung flagship water-resistant smartphones should understand that devices with water damage are not covered under warranty. The company has denied warranty claims from consumers whose phones were damaged when used in water.
Avoid immersing the device in water as a routine as this could lead to irreparable damage.
The IP68 rating is for freshwater only, do not take the device into the swimming pool or ocean while surfing.
Most manufacturers will not tell you the claim is for freshwater and when they do, the information will be in fine prints, almost illegible.
Samsung had advice on its website, though in fine prints, for some Galaxy model users that the phones were not suitable for beach or pool use, which suggest that the firm considered water could cause damage.