Electronics giant Samsung has denied claims made by Australia’s consumer watchdog that it lied to customers about its phones being waterproof.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced on Thursday that it was taking Samsung to court for telling consumers that many of the four million Galaxy phones sold in Australia were water resistant, while knowing they were not.
The ACCC said that it had commenced Federal Court proceedings against Samsung for allegedly misleading and deceiving customers with claims about various Galaxy phones across more than 300 advertisements since February 2016.
Advertisements across social media, online, TV, billboards, brochures and other media depicted the phones as being water resistant and showed them being used at pools and beaches, while Samsung also advertised them as being water resistant up to 1.5 metres for 30 minutes.
One ad showed a phone being used under water at a pool, another described “capturing your Saturday surf session at the beach”, and another showed a man floating on an inflatable with a water-splashed phone on his sternum.
The ACCC said the advertisements were false, misleading and deceptive, because the phones were not suitable for use in all types of water, which Samsung acknowledged on its website by advising against using the Galaxy S10 at the beach or a pool.
“Samsung showed the Galaxy phones used in situations they shouldn’t be to attract customers,” ACCC Commissioner Rod Sims said on Thursday.
“Under the Australian Consumer Law, businesses cannot mislead consumers about their products’ capabilities.”
The ACCC alleged that Samsung did not sufficiently test its phones to back its advertised claims, and denied warranty claims from users whose phones were damaged in water.
Samsung’s Galaxy phones advertised as water resistant typically cost more than those that are not, the ACCC said.
“Samsung itself has acknowledged that water resistance is an important factor influencing Australian consumer decisions when they choose what mobile phone to purchase,” Mr Sims said.
The advertisements “denied consumers an informed choice and gave Samsung an unfair competitive advantage,” he said.
Samsung issued a statement on Thursday denying the allegations and saying that it “intends to defend the court proceedings brought by the ACCC”.
“Samsung stands by its marketing and advertising of the water resistancy of its smartphones,” the statement said.
“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.”