Way back in 2016 and 2017 not many phones were water resistant and Samsung made a splash with their phones, implying through their advertising that they were waterproof in pool or sea water. Unfortunately that was not the case and the ACCC has hit them with a big stick because of it.

The ACCC has ordered Samsung Australia to pay $14 million in fines after admitting that they misled customers about the water resistance of some Samsung Galaxy phones, suggesting they could be submerged in a pool or sea water.

The phones involved are the S7, S7 Edge, A5 (2017), A7 (2017), S8, S8 Plus and Note 8 Samsung Galaxy phones amounting to more than 3.1 million phones sold in Australia.

The advertising campaign between March 2016 and October 2018 included nine ads published across various mediums including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, in-store and on its website. Although the ads showed the phones submerged in water Samsung has admitted that if they were actually submerged in a 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 ACCC acted upon hundreds of complaints from customers after they experienced issues with their phones after it was exposed to water. If you were one of these customers who experienced this the ACCC recommends you contact Samsung Australia.

Samsung Australia told EFTM today that “The seven smartphones models were tested extensively to assess their water resistance capabilities, prior to launch, including tests in pool and sea water. The phones would display a warning message to discourage consumers from attempting to charge the phones while water was in the charging port. The phones also had inbuilt systems to minimise the prospect of corrosion if the phones were attempted to be charged while water remained in the charging port.

Notwithstanding this, the ACCC and Samsung have agreed that, if the historical Galaxy phone models were submerged in pool or sea water and then attempted to be charged while pool or sea water remained in the charging port (despite the warning message) then there was a material prospect that the charging port might corrode over time.

The ACCC and Samsung also agree that changes made to subsequent models of Galaxy phones launched in Australia from March 2018 onwards means 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.

The case only relates to a prospect of corrosion of the charging port (if charged while pool or sea water remained in the charging port), and only following submersion in pool or sea water. It does not relate to water resistance generally”

It’s great to see the ACCC continuing to look out for consumers because we often make our decisions based on a products advertised features. Hopefully this penalty will make companies think twice before undergoing any sort of false or misleading advertising in the future. Australia’s guidelines around advertising are far stricter than almost anywhere else in the world, as are our consumer protections.

Samsung added “The ACCC and Samsung have also agreed that the nine advertisements published in Australia between 2016 and 2018 in relation to the historical models were misleading because they represented that these phones could be submerged in pool or sea water, despite the prospect of corrosion arising in the limited scenario where a consumer then charged their phone while salt or pool water remained in the charging port (despite the
warning message).

Samsung values the work of the ACCC and has cooperated with the Commission in order to narrow its concerns and to bring the proceeding to an end.
Samsung endeavours to deliver the best possible experience to all its customers. Samsung regrets if any Galaxy users have experienced an issue with their device as a result of the matters covered by this case”

One other thing this shows is that people clearly ignore the warning messages on their phones 🤦‍♂️