The Australian Consumer Commission has filed a case against Samsung for False & Misleading Water Resistant Phone Ads
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Samsung Electronics Australia alleging it made false, misleading and deceptive representations in advertising the water resistance of various ‘Galaxy’ branded mobile phones.
Since around February 2016, Samsung has widely advertised 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.
Samsung also advertised the Galaxy phones as being water resistant up to 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutes. The ACCC’s case involves over 300 advertisements, with our cover graphic being one of them.
According to ACCC Chair Rod Sims: "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."
The ACCC further claims that Samsung didn't have a reasonable basis for making the representations because:
- It did not test or know of testing (or sufficient testing) about how exposing a Galaxy phone to water (including non-fresh water) affected its usable life;
- It held the view that using Galaxy phones in liquid other than fresh water could damage them. For example, Samsung’s website states that the new Galaxy S10 phone range is ‘not advised for beach or pool use';
- It has denied warranty claims from consumers whose phones were damaged when used in water.
Aside from not having a reasonable basis, the ACCC also claims that the representations are false, misleading and deceptive, because the Galaxy phones were not suitable for use in all types of water, and the life of the phones could or would likely be adversely affected if used in water (including non-fresh water).
Sims added that "Samsung itself has acknowledged that water resistance is an important factor influencing Australian consumer decisions when they choose what mobile phone to purchase Samsung’s Galaxy phones which were advertised as being water resistant were sold at a higher price than Samsung phones that didn't have this feature.
Samsung’s advertisements, we believe, denied consumers an informed choice and gave Samsung an unfair competitive advantage."
Samsung has sold more than four million Galaxy branded phones in Australia.
In the end, Mr. Sims stated that “Samsung showed the Galaxy phones used in situations they shouldn’t be to attract customers. 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."
The ACCC is seeking penalties, consumer redress orders, injunctions, declarations, publication orders, and an order as to findings of fact, and costs. A copy of the first page of the court document is presented below.
Phones subject to the ACCC’s case are the 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’s promotions included advertisements on its website, in social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), television, billboards, radio, brochures, YouTube, email marketing, press releases, sponsored articles, in its stores and in other retailers’ stores.
Beginning around the 40:30 mark of the 2018 Apple Event video below Apple's Phil Schiller introduced the IP68 water and dust resistant standard at a deeper 2 meters specification than Samsung's 1.5 meters quoted by the ACCC.
Schiller stated: "So if you happen to be hanging by the pool, drop your phone in the water – don't worry, dive down, grab it, rinse it, let it dry, you'll be fine."
There was no exaggeration like a user sitting at the bottom of a pool and reading a story under water like the Samsung ad presented as shown in our cover graphic. Apple stuck with what the guidelines stated as tested fact and no more.
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