Samsung and Other Manufacturers Disable Phones Bought on Gray Markets: A Consumer Nightmare

In a shocking turn of events, several smartphone manufacturers, including industry giant Samsung, have taken a drastic step that has left customers outraged. These companies have remotely disabled phones purchased through gray markets, effectively holding the users’ data hostage until they buy new phones from official retailers. This unethical practice has raised questions about consumer rights, the role of governments, and the level of control that manufacturers can exert over devices.

Gray Market Phones in Mexico

Many people in countries like Mexico often purchase gray market phones due to economic constraints. These devices are not stolen but are originally intended for other regions. They work perfectly well in their new homes, providing cost-effective alternatives to official store purchases.

However, users of these gray market phones in Mexico started receiving alarming messages on their devices. These messages warned them that their devices would be disabled for not complying with Mexican regulations, and they were urged to buy approved devices. Such messages appeared on phones from various manufacturers, but Samsung was the most aggressive in its approach.

Samsung’s Heavy-Handed Approach

Samsung’s actions were particularly egregious. Not only did they send messages regarding non-compliance with Mexican regulations, but they also remotely disabled users’ phones, rendering them virtually useless. This move was far from the expected outcome – if a device truly posed safety risks, it should have been switched off completely. Instead, Samsung allowed the devices to turn on but denied users access to their data and applications.

Battery Voltage and Charging Safety Claims

To justify their actions, Samsung cited battery voltage and charging safety as the reasons for disabling these devices. They claimed that these devices were approved for correct charging and safe use within Mexico, which was far from the truth. In reality, Samsung uses the same battery voltage in all regions, and they even stopped including chargers in the box, further undermining their own argument.

Environmental Concerns and Manufacturer Greed

Samsung’s dubious explanation is an attempt to greenwash their actions by framing them as environmentally conscious decisions. The reality, however, is that they are using these claims to extract more money from consumers. This is not about safety or the environment; it’s about profit.

Government Response and Consumer Backlash

The Mexican government swiftly responded to these unethical actions, siding with consumers’ rights. On October 19, the Federal Consumer Protection Agency (PROFECO) and the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) issued a suspension against manufacturers who had disabled these mobile devices, as they had violated consumer rights by blocking imported phones. Motorola and Samsung, the main culprits, had to cease their actions immediately and issued statements agreeing to cooperate with the Mexican government to find a solution.


This incident serves as a wake-up call for consumers and highlights the importance of protecting our digital rights. Manufacturers should not have the power to remotely disable devices that consumers have legitimately purchased. It’s a gross violation of trust, privacy, and consumer rights.

While some companies like Xiaomi opted for a more user-friendly approach by sending messages but not disabling devices, others like Samsung resorted to extreme measures, leaving users stranded with locked devices. This raises important questions about who controls the devices we own and how they can be used against us.

As consumers, it’s essential to remain vigilant, advocate for our rights, and support government agencies that stand up against unethical practices. In this case, the Mexican government’s swift response demonstrated the power of collective action in safeguarding consumer rights. Samsung and other manufacturers must be held accountable for their actions, and consumers should be cautious when dealing with companies that prioritize profit over ethical conduct.


9 thoughts on “Samsung and Other Manufacturers Disable Phones Bought on Gray Markets: A Consumer Nightmare

  1. It’s like buying a stolen car and you get upset when the police are notified by the cars owners.

    You have no rights as a participant in a criminal act. Ignorance of the law is no excuse and demanding the government step in to create protection from its consequences is laughable.

    It’s theft. This is why the third world exists because the rule of the jungle exists….over the rules commerce. Who wants to do business in a country with these terms of exceptions of offering value for value?

    Buy a legitimate phone. Or save until you can afford one. Don’t cheat the process of fair transactions.

    A child thinks that way.

  2. No different to, say, Microsoft going out of the ebooks and then deleting all the ebooks I’ve purchased off MY device.
    In the not too distant past, buying something meant you owned it and could do, more or less, whatever you wanted to do with it.
    Today buying something means little more than accepting the terms and conditions. It does not mean you own anything.

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