The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking Samsung to court in the country, alleging that the Korean company has been lying to Australian consumers for years about the water-resistant capabilities of several Galaxy phones. The ACCC says that Samsung presented hundreds of advertisements in the country since February 2016, misleading customers in the process about what they can and can not do with water-resistant Galaxy phones, including Galaxy S and Note devices.

The watchdog explained in a press release that Samsung had used social media, internet, TV, billboards and brochures campaigns to tell buyers that the Galaxy phones are “water resistant and depicted them being used in, or exposed to, oceans and swimming pools.”

The problem appears to be with Samsung’s claims that it doesn’t matter what type of water the Galaxy phone is exposed to, as long as it has the proper certification.

“The ACCC alleges Samsung’s advertisements falsely and misleadingly represented Galaxy phones would be suitable for use in, or for exposure to, all types of water, including in ocean water and swimming pools, and would not be affected by such exposure to water for the life of the phone, when this was not the case,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

Image Source: ACCC

The ACCC offers several examples of ads from Samsung that show various Galaxy phones in use in environments involving beaches and pools. However, the Commission also notes that Samsung does specifically mention that the new Galaxy S10, also a water-resistant phone, “is not advised for beach or pool use.

The ACCC says Samsung did not have a reasonable basis for the following reasons:

  • It did not test or know of testing (or sufficient testing) about how exposing a Galaxy phone to water (including non-fresh water) affected its usable life;
  • It held the view that using Galaxy phones in liquid other than fresh water could damage them. For example, Samsung’s website states that the new Galaxy S10 phone range is ‘not advised for beach or pool use’;
  • It has denied warranty claims from consumers whose phones were damaged when used in water.

Samsung has sold more than four million Galaxy-branded phones in Australia, the watchdog says, presumably referring to all the handsets that come with water resistance ratings — the list includes the S10e, S10, S10 Plus, S9, S9 Plus, S8, S8 Plus, S7, S7 Edge, Note 9, Note 8, Note 7, A8, A7, and A5, phones that were made between 2016 and 2019.

The ACCC seeks “seeking penalties, consumer redress orders, injunctions, declarations, publication orders, an order as to findings of fact, and costs.”

Samsung, meanwhile, denies any wrong-doing on its part, and will defend the accusations in court (via The New Daily):

Samsung stands by its marketing and advertising of the water resistancy of its smartphones.

We are also confident that we provide customers with free-of-charge remedies in a manner consistent with Samsung’s obligations under its manufacturer warranty and the Australian Consumer Law.

Customer satisfaction is a top priority for Samsung, and we are committed to acting in the best interest of our customers.

Depending on how it works out, Samsung may be in some serious trouble, as other regulators around the world could open similar probes.