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

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by ArmitageShanker, May 1, 2010.

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  1. ArmitageShanker macrumors member

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    #1
    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?
     
  2. ArmitageShanker thread starter macrumors member

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    #2
    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?
     
  3. ILikeToJB macrumors member

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    #3
    If you don't have an AppleCare extension on your phone, then they don't have to replace it for you. You have a 1 year limited warranty on your device, unless you purchase AppleCare which extends it to 2 years. When that warranty runs out, Apple is no longer legally responsible for faults that happen to your device.

    Also, don't sue them for the following reasons.

    A. You will lose.
    B. It will cost you more to sue them than to buy a new one from them.
     
  4. mikethebigo macrumors 68000

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    #4
    In my opinion, it's just not worth it.

    In order to do anything about it, you'd have to sue, and that would cost WAY more than just replacing the phone. And you're sure as hell not going to individually cause Apple to change their warranty service from 1 year to something like 6.

    Most modern electric devices start breaking after a year, especially Apple products, you kinda just have to deal with it.

    Also, as someone else said recently (someone involved in the lost iPhone prototype deal), Apple is a "legal juggernaut."
     
  5. Torq macrumors regular

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    #5
    Your phone is out of warranty. You elected not to extend said warranty. Unless Apple is unwilling or unable to repair/replace your phone for a reasonable, established, fee then you are fighting a losing battle.

    Apple's warranty policy is within EU requirements. And since Apple can and will repair your phone for a fee you'll get nowhere on arguments of perceived reasonable longevity.

    The provisions in law regarding reasonable longevity won't apply unless no repair is possible. They do NOT require manufacturers to provide 6 years of free repairs nor do they require products to last that long without failure.
     
  6. canada eh macrumors regular

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    #6
    The way I see it, your phone is out of warranty, and it is not Apple's problem anymore. You could complain and complain and they might just get annoyed and give in but other than that, its not worth it.
     
  7. ILikeToJB macrumors member

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    #7
    Nowhere in your contract or Agreements you accepted to does it say that they have to provide you support until your contract expires.
     
  8. Scippy macrumors regular

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    #8
    I highly doubt that you are going to have any luck.
    All you're going to do is waste your time and money.
     
  9. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere

    Applejuiced

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    At the iPhone hacks section.
  10. ILikeToJB macrumors member

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    #10
    Just think, Apple is a business, a 209 Billion dollar company. Succeeding through lawsuits just about every year. You are an individual person. You agreed to their terms, that they provided once you accepted them. Who do you think will win?
     
  11. Gav2k macrumors G3

    Gav2k

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    #11
    You can only use the fit for purpose reason if the fault was there before the 12 month period and you made a good effort to resolve the issue which you did not. The other issue you have is 12 months is a reasonable amount of time for a mobile to function as it is not really a static electronic device like a tv. It a portable device that could be subjected to knocks and bumps.

    My advice is to email Steve jobs and see if you get any help. If not then the law wouldn't be on your side really!
     
  12. ArmitageShanker thread starter macrumors member

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    #12
    I find this fascinating - the responses are unanimous in their interpretation.

    Out of interest, and this isn't meant as a confrontational response, rather as an inquisitive follow-up, how many of you are based in the UK and are factoring in the Sale of Goods Act into your response?

    Also, some of you seem to think that Apple's sheer size means there is automatically only one way this can go. Can you therefore explain why this was not so in the case of the fella I quoted who got a result from Dell, who aren't exactly a corner shop themselves?
     
  13. ILikeToJB macrumors member

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    #13
    +1

    Steve Jobs is probably your best shot at this. sjobs@apple.com
    Someone E-mailed Steve about their brand new iMac once, and since they were far away from an Apple store, Steve had Apple call him, sent him a limo which costed $100 USD, and replaced his iMac for free. You have nothing to lose with this.
     
  14. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #14
    Agreed. Sorry OP, I think that you are out of luck.
     
  15. ILikeToJB macrumors member

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    #15
    You're not understanding, Apple is very good in court. They hardly ever lose a law suit. They have got this all figured out already, and thats why when companies try to sue them for something that they think Apple copied, Apple pulls out their patent for it dated since before the other company's.
     
  16. thelatinist macrumors 603

    thelatinist

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    #16
    I think you completely misunderstand this law. This doesn't give you a six year warranty agains failure of any electronic device, it merely requires the manufacturer to support the device by providing a means for you to get it repaired for that long. In the case you cite, it appears that Dell would neither repair the TV in question nor provide third parties with the information they would need to repair it. The owner recieved his payment not because the law required Dell to repair any defect for free for six years, but because it required that the phone be fixable for six years. If Dell had been able to fix his TV, he would have been required to pay for the repair.

    This is manifestly not the case in your situation, as Apple has offered to repair or replace your phone.
     
  17. mikethebigo macrumors 68000

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    #17
    Edit: nevermind, looking more into the 6 year thing. Seems that is in the act. However, from what I can tell, the 6 years only means that within that time the manufacturer must offer a way to fix the device, but it doesn't say the manufacturer has to do it for free.

    Also, with the Dell case, they probably just figured it would be easier to just replace the damn thing than keep having to deal with the guy. It wasn't necessarily that they thought they'd lose in court.
     
  18. Torq macrumors regular

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    #18
    I'm from the UK (though not living there currently) and more than familiar with the Sale of Goods act. It isn't going to help you here.
     
  19. ArmitageShanker thread starter macrumors member

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    #19
    The goods are necessarily expected to last for 6 years - 6 years is the amount of time you have from the date you receive the goods to the commencement of court action. The amount of time that the goods must last is a "reasonable time". My argument, should I have to attend a County Court, is that it is reasonable to expect the device to remain fully functional for the duration of the 18 month contract. I'd be interested to see how Apple could argue otherwise - even the guy at the Genius Bar and the Store manager conceded on this but Apple's rules prevented them doing anything for me.

    It's neither of the above - 6 years is the amount of time I have to initiate proceedings.

    Why do you think it isn't going to help me? And, given that it must help some people, can you propose a scenario dissimilar to mine where it might help a consumer but where there is a key difference which means it won't help me?
     
  20. mikethebigo macrumors 68000

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    #20
    More interesting legal info:

    "The problem is that what is a reasonable time is subject to much interpretation and is also affected by how much a product cost, and how it has been used. Retailers and manufacturers have always stubbornly refused to entertain most claims for free repairs or compensation after the 12 month period and most consumers have historically accepted this even if begrudgingly at times."

    AND:

    "A vital point to realise is that the Sales of Goods act in the UK giving rights to compensation for between 5 and 6 years is not a guarantee or warranty. There has always been a fair wear and tear clause and it has always said that it does not mean that no breakdowns at all should occur within this period -

    “Goods cannot always be expected to work fault-free. They can break down through normal use. Buyers cannot, therefore, expect to hold the seller responsible for fair wear and tear. There needs to be a fault that was present on the day of sale even though it only became apparent later on, or a mis-description of the goods, or a lack of durability that suggests the goods were not of satisfactory quality to start with”.

    So, Apple could definitely win a legal case by stating that the iPhone is expected to possibly have problems after 12 months of normal use, which is a valid point, especially for a mobile electronic device. Especially considering most, if not all, manufacturer warranties run only 12 months.
     
  21. thelatinist macrumors 603

    thelatinist

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    #21
    That rule doesn't require them to repair or replace it for free, it merely requires that they continue to provide repair service for a reasonable period. The purpose is to prevent companies only servicing their latest models. The guy in your article had a case because Dell wouldn't fix it.
     
  22. ArmitageShanker thread starter macrumors member

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    #22
    I think you completely misread my post.

    Which bit of legislation is that in?
     
  23. WeegieMac Guest

    WeegieMac

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    #23
    There are some woefully misinformed people in this thread but also some people making good points.

    For one, off the top of my head, the sale of goods act does not apply of you find a fault within the first 12 months of ownership. The whole point of the sale of goods act is the fact it's about goods lasting a reasonable length of time. The first 12 months are covered by the manufacturers warranty, not the sale of goods act.

    At the end of the day, you can rant and rave but if Apple don't budge they don't budge. You've owned the phone a while now, and while the iPhone is expensive (if bought up front), there is Applecare available at a reasonable price.

    Some companies will shudder with fear when a consumer mentions the sale of goods act, but more often than not a company will stick to it's policies.

    You can take this further, but you may end up spending more time, money, and energy than it's worth.
     
  24. Dr Kevorkian94 macrumors 68020

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    #24
    im not going to detail hear but u are way misinformed

    first to even get to a legal battle it will coast a zillion dollars
    second u will lose any way so...

    y try, u can get a new iphone in june just hold out
     
  25. ArmitageShanker thread starter macrumors member

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    #25
    This is the key point against me, as far as I can tell, but it's as much a point of principle to me so I'm happy to expend the time and the energy. County Court proceedings are very cheap (about £80) http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/infoabout/claims/index.htm so there's no issue there.

    I'm going to give Apple a call after the bank holiday to offer them a final opportunity to get this sorted but I'll be sure to update this thread with the outcome either way.

    Hilarious. Please do go into detail - I'm all ears.
     
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