Apple accused of stalling iPod battery fire investigation

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Following up on numerous reports of iPod batteries catching fire, a Seattle reporter says that Apple actively prevented her and others from learning the true scope of the safety hazard.



KIRO 7's Amy Clancy claims that her seven-month search for data was repeatedly frustrated as Apple asked for Consumer Product Safety Commission reports to be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act, hiding them from public view.



The investigation began in November after one iPod shuffle owner was burned when the battery ignited during a run, burning her where the iPod was clipped on. The victim, Jamie Balderas, at the time said she had contact Apple and provided photos as evidence but was purportedly dismissed by an AppleCare agent as encountering an "isolated incident" and that access to proof of previous incidents wasn't an option. The mother of a child given a mild burn also says Apple phone representatives didn't appear responsive to the problem.



Clancy searched on her own but submitted the FIA request after discovering the already widespread reports of iPod battery fires, which among other responses had prompted a Japanese government investigation.



When she finally received the requested information, however, she was surprised at just how long Apple and the CPSC had been aware of problems: fires had been reported as long ago as 2005 and have been noted periodically ever since. The 800-page report had even already pinpointed the lithium-ion battery packs as the likely causes because of their occasional tendency to overheat, but despite the evidence, hadn't led to a mandatory recall. Commission officials had determined that the the scarcity of incidents -- just a handful compared to the 175 million iPods sold at the time -- had made the risk of any injury, let alone any serious injuries, "very low." It also believed that newer batteries weren't shown vulnerable to the same sort of overheating.



The iPod maker for its part has partly responded to such issues in the past, but not comprehensively. Although it began a voluntary replacement program last year for owners of first-generation iPod nanos, some of whose batteries were known to be defective, it hasn't given recourse to owners of other iPod models affected by the problem, whether Balderas or a Cincinnati woman who just in March sued Apple for negligence in the wake of a second-generation iPod touch fire exhibiting similar symptoms.



Apple hasn't responded to the reporter's assertions.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,743member
    Pure FUD.
  • Reply 2 of 22
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,246member
    Seattle . . . hmmmm.
  • Reply 3 of 22
    wilcowilco Posts: 985member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post


    Pure FUD.



  • Reply 4 of 22
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wilco View Post






    I know you're playing your part as the forum contrarian, but as far as I've heard, it really is FUD. It works out to something like one in 11 million iPods might catch fire or hurt someone.
  • Reply 5 of 22
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,051member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    I know you're playing your part as the forum contrarian, but.....



    wilco a contrarian? You mean he never agrees with the topic/comment about which he is posting!?



    Who would have thunk......
  • Reply 6 of 22
    wilcowilco Posts: 985member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    I know you're playing your part as the forum contrarian, but as far as I've heard, it really is FUD. It works out to something like one in 11 million iPods might catch fire or hurt someone.



    The issue of whether or not Apple hampered the investigation is FUD?
  • Reply 7 of 22
    jasenj1jasenj1 Posts: 912member
    This story was on Slashdot already.



    Summary: 15 incidents reported out of 175 million iPods sold.



    I'll take those odds.



    - Jasen.
  • Reply 8 of 22
    wilcowilco Posts: 985member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    wilco a contrarian? You mean he never agrees with the topic/comment about which he is posting!?



    Who would have thunk......



    anantkswhatever with his nose up Apple's a--? Who would have...
  • Reply 9 of 22
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wilco View Post


    anantkswhatever with his nose up Apple's a--? Who would have...



    Well, I think we've seen enough of your antics. Thanks for trying.
  • Reply 10 of 22
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,205member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wilco View Post


    The issue of whether or not Apple hampered the investigation is FUD?







    the reporter makes a lot of claims, but shows no proof that Apple did anything to stop the release of information.



    so yeah.
  • Reply 11 of 22
    kibitzerkibitzer Posts: 1,113member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    Well, I think we've seen enough of your antics. Thanks for trying.



    Gee - first time I've been around when someone got the death sentence.
  • Reply 12 of 22
    hillstoneshillstones Posts: 1,490member
    A handful vs. 175 million sold. Holy cow! What a disturbing finding! I have had a 1st Gen, 2nd Gen, 4th Gen, 4th Gen Color, Classic 160 and now Classic 120. None of them have ever overheated. I skipped the 3rd Gen because those buttons across the top were just so lame. Gotta love the resale value of iPods!
  • Reply 13 of 22
    mj webmj web Posts: 918member
    Or mighty nice? Depends who and what you believe. Show me the proof.
  • Reply 14 of 22
    Not just 15 out of 175 million, but over a 4 year period. That's the equivalent of winning the Florida lottery twice in a year!



    Wow, "800 pages". Not "only 15 occurrences in 4 years", but "800 pages". Sounds more menacing, doesn't it?



    What depths will wanna-be journalists sink to in order to meet their deadline? Oh, wait, I think this shows it...
  • Reply 15 of 22
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Alphaman View Post


    Not just 15 out of 175 million, but over a 4 year period. That's the equivalent of winning the Florida lottery twice in a year!



    Wow, "800 pages". Not "only 15 occurrences in 4 years", but "800 pages". Sounds more menacing, doesn't it?



    What depths will wanna-be journalists sink to in order to meet their deadline? Oh, wait, I think this shows it...



    That's the problem, any "proper" investigation is going to have some documentation. Make a big deal about the amount of paperwork and put in some innuendo that some sinister force is trying to obstruct the investigation. I would expect that any digging that turns up dry holes wouldn't be automatically released, otherwise you'll get something that looks like hit-and-run fear mongering like this.
  • Reply 16 of 22
    magic_almagic_al Posts: 325member
    What kind of product testing is going to find a 1-in-11.6 million occurrence? You're only responsible for something you can reasonably foresee and act on. Who knows, change the design might cause a different unpredictable problem that occurs once per 5 million.
  • Reply 17 of 22
    lopsidedlopsided Posts: 20member
    This obsession with recalls and suing for every imperfection is ridiculous. Portable devices have batteries. Using a battery, just about any type of battery carries risk. Having a small number short and flame out is unfortunate, but it's part of the risk of daily life. There's no evidence of wide-spread failures, no major design or manufacturing flaw.



    Far too often the press feeds these types of over-hyped cases. They take a handful of cases and boldly proclaim that we're all gonna die!!!!!! They get ratings, lawyers get rich and we get 10 pages of disclaimers about not using hair dryers while sleeping.
  • Reply 18 of 22
    Not only do ipods explode and catch fire.... But they quit working after a couple of months! For a product that costs so much you would think it would be inferior to a Zune, but alas.... Nope. I gave up on ipod and have been using my Zune... I love it, blows that crummy old ipod out of the water.
  • Reply 19 of 22
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Crankenstein View Post


    Not only do ipods explode and catch fire.... But they quit working after a couple of months!



    Ooh, lies and FUD. Get a sense of perspective here. Less then two dozen burn out if 175 million. It's like you're viewing the world through a fisheye lens or you're the PR rep for a politician or the competition.



    If on the off chance it quits working within the warranty, you can turn it in and get a new one. I have a five year old hard drive based iPod that still works, that's just the oldest, never had one die on me yet.
  • Reply 20 of 22
    "Apple hasn't responded to the reporter's assertions" (And when and if they do... they will try to blame Microsoft!) hahaha
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