iPhone maker caught slowing older devices – how to get redress
Apple has been caught slowing down older iPhones. Whilst customers might suspect that this was done to encourage them to upgrade their devices, the company said in a statement, quoted on the BBC website, that it “wanted to prolong the life” of those devices.
The BBC News article says that “Apple has now confirmed that it made changes to IOS to manage ageing lithium-ion batteries in some devices, since the batteries’ performance diminishes over time.” The company is further quoted as saying that “Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, [when they] have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.”
The company’s statement continues “Last year, we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future. Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers.”
In the US some 15 class actions have been started against Apple and the comments on that article are interesting too.
In an attempt to regain favour, Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by £54 — from £79 to £25 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later. Apple’s statement on the 28th December 2017 A Message to Our Customers about iPhone Batteries and Performance
On 15 January 2013 I bought an IPhone 4s. The Terms and Conditions told me that I had a one year warranty in addition to my consumer rights. Readers of this blog and followers of me on Facebook and Twitter know what I think of warranties. If you are new here you need to know that I am yet to find a warranty that gives you more than your statutory rights. Often this “Look at us giving you a free warranty for however many years” is to throw you off the scent. Most people would think that after their free warranty of a year or two that’s it they can’t get anything if things go wrong. WRONG.
What the Apple warranty does do is say you can claim using the warranty or your consumer rights. Where this may be helpful is that consumer rights would mean your contract is with the seller which may not always be Apple. The warranty is with the manufacturer Apple in this instance. Although cynically I know that most people would go into an Apple store and be told that the phone is out of warranty and then be out of pocket. Now, that isn’t right. I know it isn’t right and said so when my phone battery was cutting out at 40%.
Well, in March 2016 I’d had enough of the situation and went to the Apple store. The conversation went something like this:
Member of staff: Is your phone under warranty?
Me: No, it is over 3 years old.
Member of staff: We can’t replace it for free then.
Me: Under the Sale of Goods Act 1994 goods are expected to last a reasonable length of time. I expect a battery for a phone to last more than 3 years.
Member of staff: Oh, your consumer rights, let me take the phone for you and change the battery over.
They changed the battery successfully, easily and for free.
So, Apple, you can be pretty damn sure if you’ve slowed down my battery on my iPhone 5s I’ll be after a free battery.
What does this mean for the current situation?
You could try what I did. Say that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (or Sale of Goods Act 1994 if you bought it before 1st October 2015) you are entitled to products that last a reasonable length of time.
The iPhone was released in September 2014 so you are looking at the same length of time for the battery as mine, or indeed less.
In this instance of Apple slowing the battery down I would argue that it hasn’t lasted a reasonable length of time and therefore is a breach of consumer law. Even if they argue they have slowed it down to lengthen its life, there shouldn’t have been a need to slow it down.
If they say no, put your complaint in writing following these tips. Threaten to take them to the Small Claims Court if they do not provide you with a new battery. If they still don’t, do it. I’m not a lawyer and it hasn’t been tested in court but it sure would be fun to try and set a precedent. This is another reason why Apple is likely to give you a free battery as a goodwill gesture. Imagine risking the influx of cases for the sake of £25?!
Do it, and then come back and tell me how you got on!
I asked Apple for a comment on what it would do if anyone quoted their Consumer Rights to get a new battery. There hasn’t been a response to this question. Draw your own conclusions.
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11/01/2018 The Guardian reports Apple questioned by US Senate over practice of slowing down iPhones saying “The French fraud watchdog, which is part of the finance ministry, opened an investigation last week over alleged “deception and planned obsolescence”, following a complaint by a consumer rights group.
A 2015 French law makes intentionally shortening the lifespan of a product in order to encourage consumers to replace it illegal, with possible fines of up to 5% of annual turnover and jail terms of up to two years.”