The Federal Court of Australia hit Samsung’s local unit with an AUD14 million ($9.6 million) penalty for making misleading claims in its advertising that some Galaxy smartphones were water-resistant and could be submerged in water.
In a case brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Samsung Australia admitted it misrepresented the suitability of various Galaxy phones to be used in pools or sea water.
The vendor ran a marketing campaign between March 2016 and October 2018 featuring nine advertisements on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, its website and in retails outlets, which showed the Galaxy phones were suitable to be used in water.
Samsung Australia later acknowledged submerging the smartphones in water could result in the charging port becoming corroded and stop functioning if the phone was charged while still wet.
ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb explained in a statement the company’s water-resistance claims promoted an important selling point for its Galaxy phones.
She said the ACCC reviewed hundreds of consumer complaints highlighting issues with their Galaxy phones after exposure to water, with many reporting their devices stopped working.
The competition watchdog said false or misleading claims were made about the water-resistance of the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, A5, A7, S8, S8 Plus and Note 8. More than 3.1 million of these models were sold in Australia.
The court approved a settlement after Samsung Australia admitted it contravened the country’s Consumer Law and made joint submissions with the ACCC regarding penalties.