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Samsung charged $14 million for false water-resistance claims

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·Personal Finance Editor
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A Samsung store and a copy of an ad suggesting the phone can be used under water.
Samsung has copped a hefty fine for false water-resistance claims. (Source: ACCC/Getty)

Samsung Australia has been ordered to pay a $14 million penalty after admitting to misleading consumers about the water resistance of certain phones.

Samsung admitted that if the Galaxy phones were submerged in pool or sea water there was a “material prospect” the charging port would become corroded and stop working if the phone was charged while still wet.

The false or misleading claims were made about the water resistance of the S7, S7 Edge, A5 (2017), A7 (2017), S8, S8 Plus and Note 8 Samsung Galaxy phones.

There were more than 3.1 million of these Galaxy phones sold in Australia.

Between March 2016 and October 2018, Samsung Australia conducted a marketing campaign that included nine ads, published across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, on its website, and in store, which represented that these Galaxy phones were suitable to be used in pool and sea water.

“Samsung Australia’s water-resistance claims promoted an important selling point for these Galaxy phones,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

“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.

“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.”

Prior to the launch of the Galaxy phones, Samsung was already seeking to mitigate the effects of the charging-port corrosion.

Despite this, Samsung Australia’s marketing campaign promoted Galaxy phones being used in pools and sea water while there remained a material prospect the devices would be damaged due to corrosion.

“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,” Cass-Gottlieb said.

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

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