SYDNEY – Australian authorities have filed a lawsuit against the Australian subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate Samsung Electronics for allegedly misleading consumers about the water-resistant properties of several of its Galaxy smartphones.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) filed the lawsuit on July 4 in a federal court in Melbourne, the media office of the Australian consumer watchdog and the company confirmed to EFE on Friday.
“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 in a statement.
The lawsuit alleges that Samsung Electronics Australia made “false, misleading and deceptive representations” in around 300 advertisements from Feb. 16 in which the phones were shown being used in or exposed to the ocean and swimming pools.
In its advertisements, Samsung said that its phones could be submerged in water up to a depth of 1.5 meters (5 feet) for 30 minutes, the ACCC said.
The Australian watchdog added that Samsung did not test the effects of water, or know of testing, on its Galaxy phones and also that the company itself advises on its website against using the new S10 Galaxy phone in pools or at beaches.
The ACCC also pointed out that Samsung, which sold phones advertised as water resistant at a higher price than other models that did not have this feature, has denied warranty claims from consumers whose phones were damaged after being used in water.
ACCC said Samsung has acknowledged that water-resistance influences consumer decisions in Australia, where it has sold over 4 million Galaxy phones.
“Samsung’s advertisements, we believe, denied consumers an informed choice and gave Samsung an unfair competitive advantage,” Sims said.
The models affected by the lawsuit include the S10e, S10, S10 Plus, S9, S9 Plus, S8, S8 Plus, S7, S7 Edge, Note 9, Note 8, Note 7, A8, A7, and A5, all of them manufactured between 2016-2019.
Samsung has suffered several setbacks in recent years, including that of Galaxy Note 7, whose production and sales were suspended owing to repeated cases of the devices catching fire during charging, and the Galaxy Fold, the company’s first foldable smartphone, whose launch date has been delayed owing to issues with its display.