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Samsung fined $14M over water resistance claims
Australia's consumer rights watchdog has triumphed in its latest bout.
Samsung Australia has been hit with $14 million in fines after it was taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) over how it advertised the water-resistance of Galaxy smartphones.
The ACCC commenced proceedings against Samsung Australia in 2019, with the regulator alleging that the company mislead consumers about the water-resistance of a half-dozen different smartphones over two and a half years from March 2016 to October 2018.
In its filing, the regulator highlighted nine ads that ran across Samsung's Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts in addition to the company's website and retail locations.
The ACCC said that these ads had the potential to mislead consumers into thinking that Galaxy smartphones were suitable to be used in pool and sea water when this was not the case.
Back in 2019, Samsung Australia said that it stood by the marketing and refuted the idea that it was misleading.
However, the company ultimately admitted to the Federal Court that submerging the above devices in pool or sea water would invite a material prospect that the charging port would become corroded and stop working.
The ACCC said that it reviewed hundreds of complaints from consumers who experienced issues with their Galaxy phones after exposing them to water. The full list here includes the Samsung Galaxy S7, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017), the Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017), the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.
Looking forward, Ms Cass-Gottlieb said that the penalty would act as a reminder to businesses that product claims must be substantiated.
The ACCC added that the majority of Samsung Australia’s conduct in this case occurred before the recent increase in the maximum penalties for Australian Consumer Law breaches and said that similar offences could invite even larger penalties.
Consumers who purchased any of the devices listed above and experienced damage to the charging port following a situation where their device was submerged in water are encouraged to contact Samsung Australia.
In a statement, Samsung Australia said that changes made to subsequent models of Galaxy phones launched in Australia from March 2018 onwards meant that "there was and is no longer a material prospect of corrosion if Galaxy phones were attempted to be charged while pool or sea water remained in the charging port."