ACCC stings Samsung Australia over “misleading” water-resistant phone ads

According to the ACCC, Samsung Galaxy phones are not quite as tolerant to water as its ads may lead consumers to believe.

Since around February of 2016, Samsung has taken to social media, online, television, OOH and myriad other channels to proselytise its Galaxy range’s water-resistant capabilities.

Yesterday, the ACCC initiated proceedings in the Federal Court against Samsung Australia, alleging the phone manufacturer has been making “false, misleading and deceptive representations” of it’s Galaxy range’s water tolerances.

Samsung underwater ad

Contained within the ads – of which the ACCC is considering more than 300 – Samsung does clarify its Galaxy phones as being water resistant up to 1.5 metres deep for a maximum of 30 minutes.

According to ACCC chair Rod Sims, Samsung’s advertisements have been misleading consumers with the insinuation that its 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.

Samsung surfing

“Samsung showed the Galaxy phones used in situations they shouldn’t be, to attract customers.

“Samsung’s advertisements, we believe, denied consumers an informed choice and gave Samsung an unfair competitive advantage.”

According to the ACCC, Samsung itself acknowledges that water-resistance is an important factor in “influencing Australian consumer decisions” – particularly as Galaxy phones which were advertised as water-resistant sold at a higher price than Samsung phones without this feature.

“Under the Australian Consumer Law, businesses cannot mislead consumers about their products’ capabilities. Any attempt to do so will risk court action from the ACCC,” Sims concludes.

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

In other ACCC news

Yesterday the ACCC also published a media release alerting Optus customers to check if they’ve received any correspondence offering them a refund.

In February, following ACCC action, the Federal Court ordered Optus to pay penalties of $10 million for misleading customers over charges for digital content including games and ringtones – charged through its direct carrier billing (DCB) third-party billing service.

According to ACCC commissioner Sarah Court, “Many of the affected customers were charged for content that they never wanted and never used, and from which they found difficult to unsubscribe. In some cases children unwittingly incurred charges.”

 

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Josh Loh
BY Josh Loh ON 5 July 2019
Josh Loh is assistant editor at MarketingMag.com.au