Samsung probes rogue partners over illicit product tampering

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The manufacturer confirmed to Mobile News an unnamed partner had imported mobile devices into the UK from Europe

Samsung has began hunting down rogue partners who it believes have been modifying imported stock without its permission and then illegally selling them throughout the UK.

The manufacturer confirmed to Mobile News the unnamed partner had imported mobile devices into the UK from Europe.

Importing such products isn’t illegal, however tampering with them is. Offences include changing official device software, replacing official Samsung chargers with non-genuine or fake alternatives, and removing the network locks.

Warnings

Samsung had notified all partners coming into contact with its devices of this issue by letter and email at the end of last month, according to a number of anonymous dealer sources.

The partners involved, type of devices, and number of affected products were undisclosed in the correspondence. Partners were warned by Samsung that selling tampered smartphones or tablets would breach the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 Act and infringe on Samsung’s own trademark.

Official distribution partners offering Samsung products in the UK currently include Exertis, Tech Data, Westcoast and Data Select.

Taking action

A Samsung spokesperson told Mobile News: “Consumer experience is of primary importance to Samsung. We are therefore taking action against distributors and resellers that open boxes, change the official software on devices, replace genuine chargers with nongenuine or fake chargers, and/ or remove the network lock on devices.

“These devices are often falsely sold to consumers as “new” devices. As a result of the unauthorised changes made to the devices and packaging, Samsung is unable to offer a warranty to end-users and may not be able to offer over-the air security updates. We would therefore encourage consumers not to purchase devices that have been modified in this way.

“This is not a question of Samsung preventing the sale of imports from within Europe; Samsung has no issue with imported devices being sold where the devices and their packaging have not been modified, and Samsung provides a warranty service for these products.”

One dealer expressed frustration at Samsung’s lack of support and was worried the issue would impact their business.

“We’d never sell modified stock as new, but Samsung isn’t telling us how to identify them. It’s really hard to know. It creates huge worry and concern because it doesn’t just affect Samsung’s reputation but our own as well.”

Another echoed: “Ultimately you’re selling the product without any warranty. It will cause problems for the end user if they can’t get the devices fixed under warranty.

“It won’t just potentially affect Samsung’s reputation, but any business who sells these products. It doesn’t do either of us any favours. You don’t want to leave your customers with broken devices.”

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