What is a modified product?
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 it. These changes may include:
- removing the genuine charger included by Samsung (e.g. a 2-pin Mainland European charger)
- inserting a 3-pin Samsung branded charger of unknown origin
- removing some or all of the original safety and instructional documents
- inserting photocopies of English language documents
- removing the original operating software on a device and installing an English language variant of the operating software
- cutting or removing seals and stickers on the outside of the box
- adding a new or copied outer box seal and other stickers to the box
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 unmodified products that have been acquired in Mainland Europe and brought into the UK or Ireland.
However, Samsung is able to prevent the sale of products if their condition has been modified (changed or impaired) before they are sold.
Some modification and repackaging of other types of products has been allowed by the courts, but strict legal rules must be followed. These rules, known as the BMS conditions, stipulate that modifications can be made only if they are necessary to sell the products in the UK. If it can be shown that the modifications are necessary to sell the products, a sticker must be placed on the box which describes the modifications made and who made them, and Samsung must be provided with full information and a sample of the modified device.
Samsung’s products are preloaded with an English language option and a 3-pin charger can be provided to consumers outside of the box. Samsung’s position is therefore that no modification to its products is necessary to sell the products in the UK. However, if it can be established that the other BMS conditions will be followed, Samsung may agree to its products being modified before they are sold in the UK. Before Samsung will allow this, the modifying company must enter into an agreement with Samsung 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, to clearly inform consumers which modifications have been made and by who, and to provide samples to Samsung to enable it to check compliance.
What is Samsung doing about the sale of modified products?
Samsung has commenced legal action against the main companies it has identified as modifying Samsung products before they are sold. Samsung has also commenced a public campaign to inform members of the public and sellers of products about the problems caused by the sale of modified products.
Where Samsung becomes aware of the sale of modified products (without an agreed arrangement in place), it will take legal action against those involved.
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 there a list of companies which have entered into an agreement with Samsung which allows them to modify products legally?
A list of companies that have entered into an agreement with Samsung (as described above) will be published here and kept updated. The following companies have entered into an agreement:
- Eurostar Global Electronics Limited
- Modifiers Limited (a subsidiary of Eurostar Global Electronics Limited)
- Greentech Distribution PLC
- Reseal Limited (a subsidiary of Greentech Distribution PLC)
- New Way International Limited
- Brand Smart Limited (a subsidiary of New Way International Limited)
Products modified by these companies will have a sticker on the outside which identifies the company and explains the changes made to the products. If the companies listed above comply with the agreement entered into with Samsung, the modified products produced will not exhibit the problems described above.
It is important to note that these companies are not authorised distributors of Samsung products in the UK, and Samsung does not check individual products produced by these companies to ensure they are compliant with the agreed requirements. Customers of these companies buy at their own risk and Samsung gives no guarantee as to the quality of the products produced. Customers should contact Samsung if modified products they purchase from these companies exhibit any of the problems listed above.
How can consumers tell if they are being offered a product which has been modified legally?
If the product has been modified to a high standard, it may be hard to tell. It is easy to tell when the product has been modified to a low standard.
Indications that the product has been modified include:
- the original seal on the outside of the box has been removed or has been cut, and has a slightly different design of sticker (usually larger) stuck on top of it
- the other stickers on the outside of the box have had new stickers placed over them
- the charger inserted does not look genuine, does not have plastic wrap on it (where it is a fast charger), or has a plastic wrap which shows only non-English wording
- the charger and other accessories do not fit into the box properly, or appear to be wedged into the box
- the product has documents in the box which only feature non-English wording
- the product has poorly printed documents or documents printed on normal paper in the box
- the mobile phone does not have a plastic wrap on it, or fingerprint marks on it, or small scratches around the charging port
- the software on the mobile phone does not receive security updates, or reverts to a different language when a hard reset is performed
What should consumers do if they have bought a product which has NOT been modified legally?
If a consumer is sold a modified product without being informed this is the case, the consumer may have the ability to return it to the seller because it is not as described or not of satisfactory quality. Samsung’s advice would be to return the product if it is possible to do so.
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