Samsung lands in hot water and Federal Court for alleged misleading ads

The ACCC has taken exception to the advertised water resistance properties of Samsung's Galaxy phones.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has filed to take Samsung Electronics Australia to Federal Court over alleged "false, misleading, and deceptive representations" concerning the water resistance of its Samsung Galaxy phones.

In the past three years, the ACCC has found 300 advertisements claiming that Galaxy phones are water resistant up to 1.5 metres deep for 30 minutes, which it says Samsung did not have a reasonable basis for.

The consumer watchdog is alleging Samsung did not test how water exposure impacted the usable life of devices, that the Korean giant "held the view" that use in non-fresh water could damage them and advised as such on its website, and that Samsung denied warranty claims from people with 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.

"Samsung's advertisements, we believe, denied consumers an informed choice and gave Samsung an unfair competitive advantage."

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

For its part, Samsung said it would be seeing the ACCC in court.

"Samsung stands by its marketing and advertising of the water resistancy of its smartphones," it said. 

"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 devices concerned stretch from the S10 down to the S7, as well as the Note 9 and 8, and the A8, A7, and A5. Ironically, the ACCC is calling out the Note 7, which had the greatest need of being thrown into nearby water.

Updated at 11:27am AEST, July 4, 2019: Samsung response added. 

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