Apple’s legal letter response to third-grader causes complaint, local TV coverage

“You wouldn’t think a letter from a third-grader could change a company’s corporate practices. But that’s apparently exactly what happened after CBS 5 became interested in an unusual complaint from a viewer. A South Bay mom told CBS 5 that her young daughter’s letter offering suggestions on how to improve the Apple iPod prompted a harsh response from the company,” Anna Werner reports for (San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose).

Link to full video report here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Macaday” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: According to the report, Apple called the third-grader to apologize and is reviewing how the company responds to letters from children. Both are good ideas from a public relations standpoint, we guess. Is anyone else amazed at what local TV News will cover and at what “upsets” some American children and parents? Call us throwbacks, but we’d be embarrassed to “complain” to anyone about receiving what was obviously a standard form letter from a corporation’s legal department, much less run to phone in the “complaint” to the local TV station. We’re no Dr. Spock aficionados, but, if this happened to us, we imagine that we’d explain to the kid that it was a form letter, Jobs never saw it because he’s a very busy man, this sort of thing happens all the time, it didn’t mean their idea wasn’t good – just that the company doesn’t want to be sued from people who send in unsolicited ideas, and that if this is the worst thing that ever happens to them, then they’re going to have a very, very happy life indeed.

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  1. MDN – Just an observation – you couldn’t come up with a more pessimistic response to this article (and on life in general) if you tried.

    “We shall overcome!”

    Some friendly advice, leave the site alone for a couple of hours, and go out and get some fresh air.


  2. agreed…

    especially because since the iPod can display song lyrics, if the girl’s parents found out they could say “Apple used our idea and didn’t pay us!”
    and then what not…

    I like how the coverage starts off with, “Lots of people send us in more serious issues, but…”

    and then “After a whole THREE MONTHS” as if this letter from a third grade girl would be expected to receive prime attention of the company.

    Its a hard and cruel world, and yes, Apple should try and be as nice as possible, but the girl (and her parents it seems) need to learn that thats just how the world works.

  3. Lurker_PC,

    Do you understand the definition of “pessimistic?” If so please explain how you can describe MDN’s Take as such.

    I see them rightfully and correctly criticizing the parent for overreacting, the kid for being coddled, and the TV station for wasting resources and their viewer’s time.

    Kids dying by the minute from malnutrition worldwide = no story on CBS-5 today. Overfed Bay Area kid gets form letter from Apple legal = 3 minute story.

    American’s need to experience the world and get some perspective, that’s all I can say.

  4. It’s amazing how thin skinned people in this country have become. Of course this is just an offshoot of the ‘culture of victimization’ that the legal industry has created in order to drum up more business for themselves.

  5. Lurker_PC — Buy a friggin’ clue.

    MDN‘s “response” is absolutely dead on target.

    Everyone’s “hurt” by something or other nowadays. “He didn’t say Thank You”. Or, “He was rude, so I’m suing!”.

    Apple’s a company that needs to vigorously defend and protect its intellectual property. An attorney rubber-stamped a boilerplate response to the girl . . .


    Yaah, that makes Apple (and MDN for supporting them) such utter “meanies”.

    I think it’s YOU who needs the fresh air.

  6. This is why I don’t watch the local news. CBS 5 happens to be a station local to me, though this kind of thing is typical of local news. I’m no fanboy who feels everything Apple does ios just and right, but in this case I am appalled that nowhere in the report does anyone state WHY this is a typical form letter. Unsolicited ideas sent to Apple could already be plans in the making. If after those ideas come to fruition someone goes and tries to claim that was their idea and therefore entitled to compensation it would cost them money to defend themselves. If it ever worked everyone could send massive amounts of ideas to any company in the hopes that it could get them something down the line when inevitably some company later comes out with the same idea. I thought it was obvious that this was why companies reply with exactly this kind of letter. Maybe whoever taught that class should have prepared everyone for that. Maybe they did. Maybe that mother should have taken this as an opportunity to explain the truth about why forms like that are necessary. Instead it would seem she decided to teach her child that in fact people are entitled to compensation (in this case to be heard on the news, embarrass a company, and recieve an appology) for something minimal.

  7. We should all write very polite letters of suggestions to CBS 5

    and then call them to complain that it took so long to hear a reply and that we found the replies rude and demand that they do a story on it.

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