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Samsung Aust fined over phone water claims

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Samsung Australia has been fined $14 million for misleading customers into thinking their phones could safely be submerged in pool or sea water.

The company spouted the misleading claims about Galaxy phones in an ad campaign that ran from March 2016 to October 2018.

Among the ads, one said "There's an underwater selfie in your future", along with the caveat the phones were water resistant to 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes.

Another ad said, "A phone can't swim the 100 metres", followed by the hashtag "#Dowhatyoucant". It was accompanied by footage of a phone getting splashed with water.

The competition and consumer watchdog took Samsung Australia to the Federal Court over the claims.

The phone company acknowledged that if Galaxy phones were submerged in pool or sea water, it was a material prospect their charging ports would become corroded and ultimately stop working if charged while wet.

"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," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

The chair said Samsung's water resistance claims were an important selling point for Galaxy phones, and many who bought them may have seen the ads beforehand.

Before the phones' launch, Samsung Australia's parent company was already looking at the issue of port corrosion when people charged their phones after they got wet, the consumer watchdog said.

Despite this, they went ahead with the campaign anyway.

"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," Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

"This penalty is a strong reminder to businesses that all product claims must be substantiated."

The Federal Court ordered Samsung Australia to pay $14 million in penalties after the company admitted to misleading consumers, the watchdog said.

Samsung made the claims about the S7, S7 Edge, A5 , A7, S8, S8 Plus, and Note 8 Samsung Galaxy phones, of which there were more than 3.1 million sold in Australia.

The watchdog urged anyone who bought a Galaxy phone and experienced the charging port issue to contact Samsung Australia.

AAP has contacted Samsung Australia for comment.

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