Samsung finds itself in hot water down under, as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking the Korean company to court, alleging that the brand has been misleading consumers for years about the water-resistance of several Galaxy phones.
The ACCC refers specifically to hundreds of advertisements that Samsung has run in Australia since February 2016, including the flagship Galaxy S and Note range. The Australian watchdog points at Samsung's advertisements on social media, internet, TV, billboards and brochures don't distinguish between different types of water and immersion and how they give the impression that the Galaxy phones are ''water resistant and depicted them being used in, or exposed to, oceans and swimming pools.''
The Commission also notes that Samsung seems to admit that water can cause damage, since the company does specifically mention that the new Galaxy S10, also a certified water-resistant phone, ''is not advised for beach or pool use.'' Furthermore, the ACCC claims that Samung knows how important water resistance is to Australian consumers, and used misleading advertising for an unfair advantage over competitors.
According to the ACC lawsuit, the manufacturer did not know or sufficiently test the effects of pool or saltwater exposure on its phones, even though the ads showed them fully submerged. However, proof against fresh water immersion or contact doesn't necessarily guarantee similar protection from all types of water.
''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 in a statement.
In addition, the ACCC claims that Samsung had refused to honor warranty for consumers who damaged their phones via exposure to water, although Samsung said it complied with all of its warranty obligations under Australian law.
The ACCC is ''seeking penalties, consumer redress orders, injunctions, declarations, publication orders, an order as to findings of fact, and costs.'' Phones subject to the ACCC’s case are 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 for its part, is prepared to defend itself in court and denies any wrongdoing: (via The New Daily):
Samsung 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.
Samsung is going to want to settle this quickly, as it could lead to follow-up lawsuits in other countries and become a potentially costly affair for the whole company. As for the proud owners of Galaxy smartphones? IP certification may be all well and good to have against accidents, but don't get too excited and dive into the pool with your new smartphone just in case.