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iPhone User Claims Apple Knew Power Button Would Fail

iPhone users (and other Apple devotees), take note. A proposed class action filed in California seeks $5 million in damages against Apple over allegations that the company knew about a latent defect in the iPhone 4's power button and failed to disclose it. But here's the twist: The plaintiff alleges that Apple not only knew that the power button would fail, it knew when the button would fail -- just after the expiration of the phone's one-year warranty period.

In her complaint, filed in federal district court, Debra Hilton says her iPhone 4 "suffered a terminal power button failure" 15 months after she bought it, and three months after her warranty expired. The only option that Apple's customer service offered her, she said, was to pay $149.99, plus shipping, for repair or replacement of the phone.

The alleged defect involves a flex cable connected to the phone's power button, the "premature deterioration" of which "causes the power button to become harder and harder to depress until eventually it becomes entirely unresponsive," according to the complaint. Hilton alleges that Apple "knew that this defect existed as of the time of the phone's manufacture, and that it would be substantially certain to exhibit itself within approximately 18 months of the phone's first use."

In a post about the case on the Abnormal Use blog, Nick Farr expresses skepticism that Apple "'rigged' the button to fail." The argument that the company would do so to sell more phones, Farr says, "lacks an understanding of Apple buyers." Apple "releases new iPhone models every 6 months, making you feel that your barely used phone is outdated, " he writes. "Apple doesn't need to tamper with your phone to get you to buy a new one."

By Farr's definition, I'm not one of those typical iPhone users who "constantly upgrade their devices -- broken power button or not." As it happens, both my iPhone 3 and iPhone 4 broke within weeks of the release of a newer version of the phone. In my case, it was the home button that called it quits -- and I did pony up for the new model both times.

Hilton's lawsuit may also be intriguing to those wondering whether venting frustrations about defective products via online message boards is just a waste of time. Hilton's complaint quotes extensively from a discussion forum on the Apple Support site dedicated to the iPhone 4 power button problem. Hilton supports her legal claims with online testimonials by iPhone customers including "CwissyBwear" (the forum's original poster), "LoveToCookSF," and "2TheMax," in whose April 4, 2012 post, the complaint says, "user sentiment was most concisely summarized."

2TheMax wrote: "Apple though I love your products I will not pay for poor quality products! No matter how innovative or revolutionary they are, your devices are worthless if they are made poorly and break in a short period of time. From all the replies it's evident that a new iPhone with proper care should not have this issue in such a short time. Address this issue Apple or lose one customer."

I don't know, 2TheMax. Let's just see how you feel when the shiny new iPhone 5s or iPhone 6 hits the market.

 

Posted by Laurel Newby on May 16, 2013 at 04:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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