The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has slapped Samsung with an AUD 14 million fine (roughly $9.65 million) for lying about the water-resistance capabilities of its phones. The regulatory body found that the Korean firm tricked users with false or misleading ads.
The devices in question include the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy A5 (2017), Galaxy A7 (2017), Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, and the Galaxy Note 8. All of these smartphones come with an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance. But there are a few things about these IP (ingress protection) ratings that usually go unnoticed. And that’s where things go wrong.
Firstly, the devices can withstand the water pressure up to a certain depth for a certain duration. It’s not like you can take the phone deep into the sea and expect it to come out unscathed, or perhaps dry. And speaking of the sea, these water resistance ratings are for freshwater. So they are not suitable to be submerged in the pool or salty seawater.
But Samsung didn’t tell this to customers when it advertised the water-resistance capabilities of the aforementioned phones. According to the AAAC press release, the Korean behemoth had run nine ads promoting the devices across various public platforms in Australia between March 2016 and October 2018. It used photos and videos that showed people using their phones under seawater or in the pool. Of course, this is false advertising and the company is now bearing the consequences of it.
Samsung admitted to the charges that the ads were misleading
The AAAC press release states that Samsung has admitted to the charges that it misled Australian consumers with those ads. It admitted that submerging the phone in seawater or a pool could corrode the charging port. Moreover, if the user charges the phone while wet, it could damage the charging port altogether.
Samsung intentionally run those misleading ads while being aware of the potential damages customers could suffer. As such, the AAAC has ordered it to pay AUD 14 million in penalties. The regulatory body says the company has “made joint submissions with the ACCC in respect of penalties and orders.”
“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”. AAAC has encouraged affected customers to contact Samsung Australia.