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Topic: About to begin a battle with Apple. A cautionary tale?

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Old 05-01-2010, 05:12 PM
#1
 
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Question About to begin a battle with Apple. A cautionary tale?

Hi everyone, I'm a UK based iPhone 3G owner and I've recently been having troubles with my handset. I've visited my local Apple store on 3 occasions now in order to try to get the issue fixed, to no avail, and I'm now being fobbed off so I'm now in the unenviable position of being compelled to start using legal threats and, if required, legal action to get Apple to abide by their legal obligation.

I therefore thought I'd post my experience henceforth on here, so that the user community can see how Apple have responded, and continue to respond to my approaches.

So, here's the story:

I bought a 3G 17 months ago (25th November 2008) and had many months of satisfactory use out of it but a few months ago it developed a fault. During calls, usually a couple of minutes in, it switches itself into headphones mode. The workaround when this happens has been to put the phone into speakerphone mode but, naturally, there are occasions when this workaround isn't really appropriate so I decided to get the problem sorted. The phone has also intermittently been struggling to get a signal when other 3G users in my vicinity have been fine.

I made an appointment to get my phone looked at by someone on the Genius Bar at my nearest Apple Store.

His first recommendation was to get a new sim, as his sim appeared to make the phone more responsive than mine. Fair enough, I thought - he's the expert. So I got a new sim and tried it for a week. The signal issue appears to have been resovled but the headphone mode issue remained so I made a second appointment to visit someone on the Genius Bar.

He advised that I should do a factory reset of the OS, without then doing a restore, in case there was a corruption in software. He also opened up the handset and reseated some stuff (out the back so I didn't actually see what).

A week later, the problem remains so I visited the Genius Bar again today to see what they advised next.

The advice was that the phone must be faulty but, as it is more than 12 months old, it was a chargeable replacement. As you might expect, I wasn't impressed by this, but I had anticipated that this might happen and took along a copy of an issue of Which? magazine (I am a subscriber) so that I could present them with an example of a consumer with a similar problem with Dell.

The case cites the Sale of Goods Act which, to quote Which?, says that "Goods must be fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. Among other things, this means they must last for a reasonable time. What's reasonable depends on the goods, and the cut-off point relates to the time you have to start court action - six years from the date you receive the goods."

Now, the key points here, in my opinion, are as follows:

1) By any 'reasonable' person's measure, it is fair to expect a phone to remain in perfect working order for the duration of the contract it was sold with (in my case 18 months.

2) The phone has been subject to no trauma, exhibits no signs of any trauma, and nor has it been damaged by water or any other kind of contaminant.

I would therefore argue that under the Sale of Goods Act, despite the phone being outside of the manufacturer's 12 months warranty, Apple are legally obliged to repair or replace the phone.

The manager that I spoke to in the store, having read the article, didn't disagree with me about where they stood in relation to the Act but said that he was not allowed by Apple to provide me with a free replacement, despite what the Act says, as his employer defines the rules that he personally has to abide by.

So now I'm at home with my faulty handset and about to start dealing with Apple corporate. Any predictions from anyone how this is going to pan out?
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Old 05-01-2010, 05:13 PM
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Sorry, I thought I ought to put a bit more flesh on the bones of the Dell example that I cited so that readers here can make their own judgement about how they think the Sale of Goods Act applies to me. So, from Which? magazine:

"You might expect major companies to be fully versed in consumer law, but William Dowse fount otherwise when his 893 television stopped working.

Bought in 2005, the 26-inch LCD TV from Dell worked well until August 2008, when the picture flickered and then disappeared altogether.

Dell directed William to a list of engineers who could look at it, and William contacted the closest one.

The engineer took the TV away but, after two weeks, he told William that while he'd found a problem with the power supply, he hadn't been able to track down diagrams he'd needed to attempt the repair. He said that engineer forums online suggested that others were experiencing the same problem, but all he could do was return the TV.

Dell refused William's claim for the cost of the TV, so he called Which? Legal Service for advice. Our lawyers explained that, under the Sale of Goods Act, goods must be of satisfactory quality, which means they must last for a reasonable time. If William could show that he shouldn't expect the TV to develop this problem at this stage in its life, he could claim against the company for breach of contract.

William wrote to Dell about this, but it replied saying that the one-year guarantee had expired and suggested that, under the Sale of Goods Act, the requirement that goods be fit for purpose lasted for only two years from the item's production date in the case of electrical items.

We told William that this was wrong and we guided him on how to start a small claim against Dell.

RESULT: Dell wrote to William offering to settle his claim of 996, which included court costs.



Should it come to it, I'm willing to pursue a similar claim as I'm confident of a positive outcome. Has anyone on here had a similar experience with Apple?
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Old 05-01-2010, 07:12 PM
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I know that iPhones and iPods generally have a higher number fail than a lot of other electronics but that is based on sheer volume of them being sold. Overall, they have a lower overall percentage.

I haven't heard of a case exactly like yours, nor have heard of anyone wanting to go to battle.

Of course there are two possible outcomes. First, they may just agree that your device should have lasted longer despite being past the one year warranty. They may or may not require you to enter into another contract with your carrier. To look at it from Apple's point of view, they may not want to set this precedence and suddenly get an influx of people demanding new handsets after the warranty expires under the same law. Therefore, they may be willing to fight it.

That would be the second thing that could happen - they opt to fight it. The law sounds very vague unless that was just a summary of what is actually stated in the law. Most vehicles only come with a 5 year warranty when purchased but usually expire well before that because of mileage restrictions. However, based on the law you are speaking of, that sounds like if my vehicle breaks down after its warranty period, the manufacturer should have to replace it kid I expected it to last for 12 years.

It's hard to say what will happen. The biggest question I would ask myself is "Am I willing to incur the legal costs if I don't win?" If you are, then go for it and see what happens. If you can't afford or are unwilling to part with the money if you lose I would just let it go.

I don't know how much they are where you live, but here in the states, it is only $99 for a new 3G (with contract).
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Old 05-01-2010, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anypats View Post
I know that iPhones and iPods generally have a higher number fail than a lot of other electronics but that is based on sheer volume of them being sold. Overall, they have a lower overall percentage.

I haven't heard of a case exactly like yours, nor have heard of anyone wanting to go to battle.

Of course there are two possible outcomes. First, they may just agree that your device should have lasted longer despite being past the one year warranty. They may or may not require you to enter into another contract with your carrier. To look at it from Apple's point of view, they may not want to set this precedence and suddenly get an influx of people demanding new handsets after the warranty expires under the same law. Therefore, they may be willing to fight it.

That would be the second thing that could happen - they opt to fight it. The law sounds very vague unless that was just a summary of what is actually stated in the law. Most vehicles only come with a 5 year warranty when purchased but usually expire well before that because of mileage restrictions. However, based on the law you are speaking of, that sounds like if my vehicle breaks down after its warranty period, the manufacturer should have to replace it kid I expected it to last for 12 years.

It's hard to say what will happen. The biggest question I would ask myself is "Am I willing to incur the legal costs if I don't win?" If you are, then go for it and see what happens. If you can't afford or are unwilling to part with the money if you lose I would just let it go.

I don't know how much they are where you live, but here in the states, it is only $99 for a new 3G (with contract).
It only costs the equivalent of about $100US to pursue a County Court claim so that's not really a worry for me (especially since I'll get those costs reimbursed if I win).

The law is vague, to a degree, but to my mind the 18-month contract is the clincher and I'd hedge my bets that a judge would see it the same way.
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Old 05-01-2010, 09:32 PM
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As Much As I LOVE Apple.
Apple ARE #######s.
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Old 05-02-2010, 06:23 AM
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One quick observation: The gentlemen with Dell did not win in court and therefore set no precedent to help you. Dell opted to eat the cost of a new T.V. set to shut the guy up lest he challenge them and eventually did win in court, setting a very damaging precedent for the industry. So, unless there's a case (or cases) you don't know about, you'll be finding yourself the test case for the "reasonable period" matter, which seems to be a risky proposition.

If you successfully file, Apple may indeed repeat what Dell did and replace your phone for free to shut you up and avoid setting legal precedent (regardless of what anypats said, far better to wade through how many ever people hear about your case than risk letting a court establish what a "reasonable period" is for an iPhone). But if they actually choose to fight, you will be facing legal fees that are going to be a lot more than giving unsubsidized iPhones to all your relatives this Christmas. I understand that the legal system in the UK is substantially more consumer friendly than our blatantly anti-consumer, pro-corporate system here in the states, but the fact remains that the statute of things needing to last a reasonable period is so vague as to be almost legally meaningless, and Apple is going to go after that like a hungry pitbull after a juicy steak.

I am not familiar enough with UK legal trends to know what the outcome of challenging the law would be, but I can all but bet my house that such wording would never pass the first challenge in the US - the courts over here prefer quantifiable statutes, not things that would require two opposing teams of engineers to do gladiatorial battle to solve each dispute
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Old 05-03-2010, 06:27 PM
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I recommend your have a look here http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/ post your situation, these guys will know if there's been any precedent, and generall give sound advice.



The only stupid question is the one you fail to ask.
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Old 05-03-2010, 09:39 PM
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Sounds like you are about to waste your time and money.
12 months sounds reasonable to detect any manufacturer defect for a mobile phone.
If all cases are judged by that act you mention, then warranties would be obselete.
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