What is a modified product?
A modified product is one that has, without Samsung’s or the end-user’s permission or knowledge, been opened prior to its sale to an end-user and has had one or more changes made to the product itself, its charger, documentation, or packaging.
What is the problem with modified products?
The primary issue is that consumers are not told that they are buying a product that has been modified. Consumers expect to receive a brand new device and a high quality user experience. Consumers do not expect to receive a product that has been changed by third party companies without the involvement of Samsung, resulting in what could be a poor or dangerous user experience.
Specific issues that could arise are:
Charger - in some cases, devices are being supplied with non-genuine or non-matching Samsung chargers. This can result in reduced performance, and where non-genuine chargers are used, safety risks.
Product damage - the packaging is sometimes changed so that a 3-pin charger can be inserted, or a 3-pin charger is wedged into the packaging designed for a 2-pin charger, which can lead to product and packaging damage before delivery.
Software Upgrades - where software on the device is installed incorrectly, the device will not receive regular software and security updates and in some cases may not operate correctly at all.
Warranty - if the customer is not aware they are buying a modified product, they will expect Samsung to fix any defects or damage to the device. However, in cases where the modifications have caused the problem (e.g. a non-genuine charger is provided with the product, software has been overwritten incorrectly, or the device is damaged before delivery due to its repackaging), Samsung will not provide a warranty.
What is the legal position?
It is not illegal to sell products that have been acquired in Mainland Europe and brought into the UK or Ireland that are not modified.
Samsung is able to prevent the sale of products if their condition has been modified (changed or impaired) before they are sold and it was not necessary for modification to have been made. Samsung’s products are preloaded with software that has an English language option and a 3-pin charger can be provided to consumers outside of the box; no modification of the products is therefore necessary to sell the products in the UK.
If a consumer has purchased a modified Samsung product and was not informed beforehand that it is a modified product, the consumer may have the ability to return it to the seller because it is not as described or not of satisfactory quality. Consumers should raise any concerns with the seller of the product.
What is Samsung doing about the sale of modified products?
To increase safety and awareness, Samsung is warning consumers about the dangers of purchasing modified products on this website and elsewhere.
Where Samsung becomes aware of the sale of modified products, it will take legal action against those involved (including against the company that modified the products and the company selling the modified products).
To protect consumers, Samsung may enter into agreements with these companies which require them to meet certain requirements if they modify Samsung products. A list of companies that have entered into such an agreement may be seen here. If a company is listed, they have agreed with Samsung to meet the following requirements:
- to include a sticker on the outside of the modified product which identifies them and explains the changes made to the products;
- only to include genuine Samsung chargers with the modified products that are labelled to explain they have been inserted by a third party and not Samsung;
- only to replace the operating software on the product in a way which will ensure software and security updates are applied in the future;
- to include an English language link to the product guide in the box; and
- to provide samples of the modified products to Samsung before sale to enable Samsung to check compliance.
If the listed companies comply with the agreement to meet these requirements, the modified products they produce should not exhibit the problems with modified products that are described on this page.
However, customers of these companies buy at their own risk and Samsung gives no guarantee as to the quality of the products that are modified. Consumers and resellers should therefore check to see if the products exhibit any of the problems mentioned above and, if so, return them to the seller.
Is it ever legally OK to sell modified products?
Samsung’s strong recommendation is that consumers purchase genuine unmodified products from its authorised distributors – this is the only way Samsung can guarantee consumers experience its products in the way it intended.
However, to attempt to protect consumers, Samsung may enter into agreements with companies to require them to meet certain requirements when modifying products. These companies may have approached Samsung for permission to modify products, or Samsung may have settled trade mark infringement action against the company because it was modifying stock without such an agreement being in place.
Samsung’s agreement requires companies modifying products only to use genuine like-for-like replacement chargers, to replace the operating software in a way which will ensure software and security updates are applied, and to clearly inform consumers which modifications have been made and by who. This allows consumers to understand who has modified the product and to enable consumers to contact the modifying company if there are problems with the inserted charger or the software on the device.
Is it possible to tell if a product has been modified?
If the product has been modified by a company that has agreed with Samsung to meet certain standards when modifying products (see the answer to the previous question) the product will have a sticker on the outside confirming how the product has been modified and by which company.
For other modified products, indications that the product has been modified include:
- the original seals or stickers on the box have been removed or cut, and a slightly different design of sticker (usually larger) has been stuck on top of them;
- the charger inserted does not look genuine, has a plastic wrap which shows only non-English wording, or does not charge the product correctly;
- the charger and other accessories do not fit into the box properly, or appear to be wedged into the box;
- the product has no documents in the box, or non-genuine documents (e.g. printed on low quality paper);
- the mobile phone does not appear to be new (e.g. it has fingerprint marks on it, or scratches around the charging port); and
- the software on the mobile phone does not receive security updates, or reverts to a different language when a hard reset is performed.