Samsung Australia has been fined $14 million by the Federal Court after it admitted making misleading claims about its phones being able to withstand being submerged in pool or sea water.
The proceedings were brought by the ACCC, and pertain to the water resistance of numerous Samsung Galaxy phones, including the S7, S7 Edge, A5 (2017), A7 (2017), S8, S8 Plus and Note 8 Samsung Galaxy phones.
3.1 million of these phones were sold in Australia after a marketing campaign held between March 2016 and October 2018 that included nine advertisements touting the waterproof qualities of the phones.
Although the ads said the phones could be submerged in the ocean or pool, in actuality, Samsung conceded the charging port “would become corroded and stop working” if the phone was charged while still wet.
“Samsung Australia’s water resistance claims promoted an important selling point for these Galaxy phones. Many consumers who purchased a Galaxy phone may have been exposed to the misleading ads before they made their decision to purchase a new phone,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.
“We reviewed hundreds of complaints from consumers who reported they experienced issues with their Galaxy phones after it was exposed to water and, in many cases, they reported their Galaxy phone stopped working entirely.
“Samsung Australia’s ads promoting its Galaxy phones featured people using their phones in pools and sea water, despite the fact that this could ultimately result in significant damage to the phone.
“This penalty is a strong reminder to businesses that all product claims must be substantiated. The ACCC will continue to take enforcement action against businesses that mislead consumers with claims about the nature or benefits of their products.”
Samsung Australia admitted that it had contravened Australian Consumer Law.