Apple Computer’s iPod Nano music player, marketed for its sleek beauty, cannot withstand normal use without becoming severely scratched, often to the point where its screen is unreadable, a consumer group said today in a lawsuit filed in San Mateo Superior Court. Moreover, Apple is refusing to give refunds to purchasers who bought the defective product, while forcing others to pay a $25 fee to get a replacement that is supposed to be ‘free’ under Apple’s warranty.
The suit, brought against Apple Computer, Inc. under the state’s consumer protection laws on behalf of California purchasers of the recently-introduced Nano, demands that Apple recall and repair the defect, without charge, or refund the purchase price to dissatisfied customers. The lawyers in the case are the Burlingame, California-based law firm of Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy, and attorneys of the non-profit, Los Angeles-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).
Reports of problems with the Nano became apparent within a few weeks of its introduction last fall, with many consumers complaining on the Internet. Apple has acknowledged there is a problem, at first urging customers to buy a third party cover. Apple now supplies a ‘sleeve’ to cover the Nano.
“Selling ‘cool’ stuff isn’t ‘cool’ if the stuff doesn’t work as advertised and Apple fails to comply with its obligations under its warranty and California laws,” said consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield, a lawyer for FTCR in a statement. “Like every other industry, Apple must fix products that are defective for free, and refund the costs incurred by its customers.”
“We sent Apple a letter asking that they acknowledge and remedy the problem,” said Bruce Simon, co-lead counsel and partner in the Cotchett firm in a statement. “They chose to not even respond and left us no choice but to bring this case.”
The lawsuit notes that many Nano users pay substantial additional money purchasing music and videos on Apple’s iTunes web site. The iPods, including the Nano, are the only portable devices on which iTunes downloads can be played.
FTCR is a citizen advocacy organization that works in the legislative and judicial arenas. In recent years it has sued cell phone companies, automobile insurers and HMOs for illegal practices. In a previous case against Apple, resolved last year, the Cotchett firm forced the company to offer replacement batteries, or a replacement iPod, for customers whose iPod batteries had failed after only a few years of use, and to issue refunds for certain charges.
More info in the complaint (.pdf) here.
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