Through several generations of Galaxy handsets, including the newest Galaxy S10 family, Samsung has pitched a water resistant design as one of the selling points. That claim has come under fire, however, with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accusing Samsung of making "false, misleading, and deceptive representations" in regards to exactly what type of water exposure its Galaxy handsets can withstand.
Part of the point of agitation on the ACCC's part is that Samsung has depicted its Galaxy phones being used in or around different types of water, including oceans and swimming pools. At the same time, there is a note on Samsung's website warning that the Galaxy S10 family "is not advised for beach or pool use," the ACCC says.
"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.
According to the ACCC, Samsung did not perform sufficient testing on how exposing a Galaxy phone to water, including non-fresh water, would affect its usable life. Furthermore, the ACCC alleges that Samsung has denied warranty claims from consumers whose phones suffered water damage.
Samsung to date has sold more than 4 million Galaxy branded phones in Australia. According to the ACCC, Samsung has acknowledged "that water resistance is an important factor influencing Australian consumer decisions" on which smartphone to buy.
"Samsung's advertisements, we believe, denied consumers an informed choice and gave Samsung an unfair competitive advantage," Sims added. "Samsung showed the Galaxy phones used in sitatuions they shouldn't be to attract customers."
The lawsuit points to over 300 related advertisements spanning several generations of Galaxy devices dating back to 2016. This includes ads on its website, as well as on social media, billboards, radio, and so forth.
Samsung is aware of the lawsuit and the ACCC's stance, and as expected, sees things differently.
"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," Samsung said.
The ACCC is seeking unspecified "penalties, consumer redress orders, injunctions, declarations, publication orders, an order as to findings of fact, and costs."