updated 09:30 am EDT, Tue July 31, 2007
NY agency warns Apple
Reinforcing growing anti-Apple sentiment about its iPhone battery policies, one state agency is politely trying to get Apple's attention. New York's Consumer Protection Board issued a letter to Apple's CEO Monday asking for the iPhone to be a little more consumer-friendly. The gentle nudge to the hugely successful company follows a class-action lawsuit--filed last week--against the company over the iPhone battery. The state's consumer protection agency cited both replacement procedures and costs in its letter and also said that consumers should be able to replace the battery themselves. The agency also said that Apple should review its standard disclosure practices and restocking fees.
In the letter, CPB Chairperson and Executive Director Mindy A. Bockstein urges Apple to revamp its customer service policies to make it easier and more affordable for consumers to repair an iPhone.
"A high-end cell phone shouldn't have to have low-end customer service," Bockstein wrote.
The iPhone battery loses 20 percent or more of its capacity after 400 cycles, according to Apple's documentation and customers are forced to turn to Apple for replacement.
Apple's three-day battery replacement program allows owners with dead batteries to exchange the dead cells for a $79 service fee plus $6.95 shipping & handling. The service is designed for iPhone owners who only require service because the battery's ability to hold an electrical charge has diminished and will not replace the battery if the device shows signs of damage due to accident or abuse.
Customers can rent an iPhone, while their device is being serviced, but Apple's charges $29, which the New York agency believes is too much. In addition, they suggested that Apple drop the 10 percent restocking fee charged when someone returns an iPhone and reviews its practices that disclose its fine print.
"We ask that Apple review its practices in disclosing contract terms and conditions, warranties and return policies," said Bockstein. In Apple stores and online, these disclosures should be more prominent and conspicuously displayed.
Last month the the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights warned Apple as well as AT&T about charging iPhone owners for battery replacements, calling on the companies to provide consumers with free and immediate replacements at retail locations for the life of the iPhone.