Why it matters: Samsung is facing trouble in Australia, where the country’s consumer watchdog is suing the Korean giant for allegedly misleading people over just how water-resistant its phones are.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) alleges that Samsung made “false, misleading and deceptive representations” in its ads for Galaxy phones.
The problem, according to the ACCC, is that since 2016, Samsung put out over 300 ads showing the Galaxy devices being used at the bottom of swimming pools and in the ocean, but the company did not test how exposure to water, especially non-fresh water, affected the phones' usable life.
Additionally, despite the ads showing them being used on beaches and in pools, the Galaxy phones’ IP68 certification (works at depths of up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes or less) only applies to fresh water. Samsung even states on its website that the Galaxy S10 is ‘not advised for beach or pool use.' It’s also claimed Samsung denied warranty claims for water-damaged 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, 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,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
The ACCC also notes that Samsung sold phones with water-resistance features at a higher price than those without the feature.
“Samsung’s advertisements, we believe, denied consumers an informed choice and gave Samsung an unfair competitive advantage,” said Sims. "Samsung showed the Galaxy phones used in situations they shouldn't be to attract customers."
Each breach of the law after September 1, 2018, could see Samsung fined up to A$10 million ($7 million), triple the benefit of the conduct or as much as 10% of annual turnover, writes Reuters. Breaches prior to that date can result in fines as high as A$1.1 million (~$773,000).
Responding to the accusations, Samsung said it "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."
Back in 2017, Sony settled a US class action suit for making deceptive waterproof claims in its Xperia ads.
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