Apple comes under fire over "exploding" iPod response

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
After a British family sought a refund for an iPod touch that allegedly exploded, Apple reportedly offered a refund only if the family agreed to keep quiet -- an action that has since drawn criticism.



In a story Monday from The Times, Apple is accused of issuing a "gagging order" on the family, offering the refund under the condition that the family sign a settlement form. But Apple has fired back, saying that such requests are standard practice in settlement agreements.



Analyzing the story, The Unofficial Apple Weblog notes that a "gagging order" can only come from a court, and no court is yet involved in the incident. In addition, they add that confidentiality agreements are par for the course in such situations.



"Sure, a letter filled with legalese is a little heavy-handed," the report reads, "but hey, the iPod was out of warranty and when a company agrees to give you money it doesn't feel it owes you, especially in a situation such as this one, it can very well request confidentiality you keep your trap shut about it going forward."



The trouble began when Liverpool's Ken Stanborough dropped his 11-year-old daughter's iPod touch. The device hissed, then popped and allegedly shot 10 feet into the air. After Stanborough called Apple to complain, he received a letter denying any liability on the company's part, but offering him a refund if he would ?agree that you will keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential." If Staborough were to breach the agreement, he could be subjected to litigation.



?They?re putting a life sentence on myself, my daughter and Ellie?s mum, not to say anything to anyone," Stanborough told The Times. "If we inadvertently did say anything, no matter what, they would take litigation against us. I thought that was absolutely appalling."



The latest report echoes earlier, separate dangerous iPod incidents. Just last month, Apple was accused of stalling an investigation over another reported iPod fire. In that case, the battery on an iPod shuffle allegedly caught fire on the victim's arm when she was out for a run.



When a TV reporter attempted to investigate the incident, she claimed her search for data was repeatedly impeded, as Apple asked for Consumer Product Safety Commission reports to be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act, hiding them from public view.



When the reporter finally received the requested information, 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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 105
    al_bundyal_bundy Posts: 1,525member
    not the best response by Apple, but there are more deaths from some baby cribs and no one cares



    what did the family expect? the money and the ability to brag how it proves that ipods are deadly?
  • Reply 2 of 105
    davegeedavegee Posts: 2,765member
    I've always been one to give Apple a benefit of the doubt, but these past few months Apple has pulled enough crap to make me reevaluate my position.



    Well anyway, I guess it's good to know that the bad behavior Apple has been exhibiting in the corporate offices has trickled over to the International units of Apple.



  • Reply 3 of 105
    xxiixxii Posts: 2member
    "The trouble began when Liverpool's Ken Stanborough dropped his 11-year-old daughter's iPod touch. The device hissed, then popped and allegedly shot 10 feet into the air."



    Seriously?!? 10ft?!? Yeah--right. With all the free touches out there--(and who hasn't dropped theirs at least once) if they could launch 10ft in the air, we would have seen this on youtube long ago.
  • Reply 4 of 105
    jpellinojpellino Posts: 612member
    ... about throwing it out the back door of the house. THEN it hissed, popped and left ten feet (isn't it ALWAYS ten feet - never 9, 11...)
  • Reply 5 of 105
    zoolookzoolook Posts: 657member
    Apple's behaviour has been a little strange recently.
  • Reply 6 of 105
    shaun, ukshaun, uk Posts: 1,050member
    Heavy handed tactics like this just make me think that Apple has something to hide!



    Just give the kid a refund or replacment and it would be a non-story. Faulty units happen.
  • Reply 7 of 105
    dogcowdogcow Posts: 713member
    Unless I missed something the account of the story never said that there was any other force involved other than dropping it. It doesn't sound like there was a fireball or the battery leaked chemicals everywhere. It sounds like someone dropped their iPod and it "exploded" meaning it broke into a bunch of little pieces and like most people they probably had one of those "oh shit" moments where they instantly try to figure out what happened and how it wasn't their fault. Human nature.
  • Reply 7 of 105
    The original article was very vague. You couldnt tell if it ment that he dropped it first and then it started hissing or if the article meant the fact that he threw it out thew door was the drop.



    So dont right away protect apple either. I am wondering if apple didnt do enough testing on the ipod touch and iphone designs before releasing them.



    You might say oh but he dropped it but a product like an mp3 player should not explode after being dropped. A product like an mp3 player that will be used for excersise should be expected to be dropped (just look at all the testing nitnendo does on its products).
  • Reply 9 of 105
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,568member
    10 ft my.... that how far it bounce when he through it because it daughter was drowned out him yelling at her.



    Yes, this happens all the time, a company agrees to do something for you which is out side the norm and they expect you to keep your mouth shut since they do not plan to do this for others.



    i am sorry there is no expectation that a product not do something that was not intended when you miss handle a product which this guy obviously admitted too.



    However, in the UK they look at this stuff different, Manufactures are expect to protect people from being stupid, or using a product which it was never intended to used as, like using the door of stove of washing machine as step stool. There are well documented cases in the UK where people tried using the open door on the stove or washing machine only to get hurt. So now those product sold in the UK must protect against this unintended use.
  • Reply 10 of 105
    teckstudteckstud Posts: 6,476member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Zoolook View Post


    Apple's bahviour has been a little strange recently.



    The iPod is the devil's toy, I tell you!
  • Reply 11 of 105
    From what I read, it really sounds like Apple was trying to say that they didn't want the settlement itself to be discussed, as opposed to the fact that something like this took place.



    Maybe I misunderstood. I've been wrong before. Probably will be again.



    It is unfortunate that this happened--no doubt--but it sounds like the device was damaged internally, causing a sudden release of energy from the battery. I think it would be difficult to prevent that from happening.



    Whatever the case, I hope this works out well for them and that Apple does the right thing.
  • Reply 12 of 105
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    not the best response by Apple, but there are more deaths from some baby cribs and no one cares



    what did the family expect? the money and the ability to brag how it proves that ipods are deadly?



    confidentially about settlements, exemptions from FOI requests during investigations, etc, this is all standard practice, it is NOT something unique to Apple. and yet some folks, particularly the media want to play like Apple goes by its own rules.



    also, that 800 page report showed that some meager 15 out of 175 million ipods have had issues over the years. that's hardly the major concern the reporter wants to show it as. and nothing about how many of those were dropped, left in hot cars etc, which might have been a factor.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Shaun, UK View Post


    Heavy handed tactics like this just make me think that Apple has something to hide!



    Just give the kid a refund or replacment and it would be a non-story. Faulty units happen.



    they gave a refund/replacement. on an possibly out of warranty unit that was dropped by the customer (and thus could have been user damaged). They made an exception and it's not really that shocking that they would want the customer not to go spreading it around because they don't want "well i talked to Johnny the other day and you did it for him so you are going to do it for me, no what that it's 5 years old and I dropped it in a sink of water" or worse "well I read in the papers".



    what is a riot is that the guy is worried about Apple coming after them for saying anything but guess what -- something was said. cause we all know about it. so I guess he's worried now.
  • Reply 13 of 105
    dhkostadhkosta Posts: 150member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by majortom1981 View Post


    So dont right away protect apple either. I am wondering if apple didnt do enough testing on the ipod touch and iphone designs before releasing them.



    With 45 million units out there, I think it's incredible that we haven't heard about more of these things happening. The rate of these freak things happening appears to be far less than one thousandth of one percent. What more do you want?
  • Reply 14 of 105
    Assuming there have been 1000 cases and 175 million iPods sold...

    That is a 0.000006% chance your iPod will catch fire.



    I'm also curious how many complaints the CPSC gets for all devices with Lithium-Ion batteries.
  • Reply 15 of 105
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    If you're going to demand my silence, you'd better offer me something more than just a refund



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaveGee View Post


    I've always been one to give Apple a benefit of the doubt, but these past few months Apple has pulled enough crap to make me reevaluate my position.



    It's not a recent change. Apple has been "just recently" changing to evil for the last 20 years. Every incident makes people wonder what has "changed" and then is forgotten. They're a corporation, for profit, with a team of lawyers, and they do some inexcusable things. They always have. I fear they, like other corporations, always will.



    But at least they can be called on it when it happens And at least they do a lot of pro-consumer things that Microsoft and others wouldn't. Not because those are "more evil" but because Apple's business is user-centric, not enterprise-centric or PC-maker-centric. Apple's money COMES from being pro-consumer and pro-user, to a large extent.



    (I'm not saying the designers and leaders at Apple see nothing but dollar signs--they are artists and visionaries in their own way. But the actions of the corporation are just that--actions of a corporation--an inhuman profit machine. That's simply reality.)



    EDIT: To be clear, the action I find wrong is how Apple handled this family. The exploding iPods themselves aren't necessarily such a problem (unless it's you sitting on one!) because when you ship millions, some will always go bad. No matter which company.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by xxii View Post


    "The trouble began when Liverpool's Ken Stanborough dropped his 11-year-old daughter's iPod touch. The device hissed, then popped and allegedly shot 10 feet into the air."



    Seriously?!? 10ft?!? Yeah--right. With all the free touches out there--(and who hasn't dropped theirs at least once) if they could launch 10ft in the air, we would have seen this on youtube long ago.



    I think I DID see it on YouTube. They put Mentos and Diet Coke in the iPod. It launched half a mile and landed in a Boston cream pie.
  • Reply 16 of 105
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


    confidentially about settlements, exemptions from FOI requests during investigations, etc, this is all standard practice, it is NOT something unique to Apple. and yet some folks, particularly the media want to play like Apple goes by its own rules.



    also, that 800 page report showed that some meager 15 out of 175 million ipods have had issues over the years. that's hardly the major concern the reporter wants to show it as. and nothing about how many of those were dropped, left in hot cars etc, which might have been a factor.



    This has nothing to do with a "settlement," there was no lawsuit here. They asked for a refund. An NDA for a refund. Absurd.
  • Reply 17 of 105
    I hate summers
  • Reply 18 of 105
    zoolookzoolook Posts: 657member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post


    This has nothing to do with a "settlement," there was no lawsuit here. They asked for a refund. An NDA for a refund. Absurd.



    A refund for something out of warranty can be technically considered a settlement. Apple were probably covering themselves, because by refunding a device so far out of warranty, they are implicitly accepting responsibility for what happened, and in the wonderful world of "sue everyone you ever meet", it's only a small step to liability.
  • Reply 19 of 105
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,081member
    http://www.ananova.com/business/stor...196.html?menu=



    There's always three sides to every story; the customer's side, the company's side, and the truth. The guy is apparently refusing to send the iPod in for examination by Apple engineers. He wants an Apple representative to personally pick up the device. I wonder what that's all about? Apple denies it is trying to suppress any discussion about the incident. It claims the settlement letter is standard legal procedure in cases like this. You know what? In the current worldwide legal climate these days I believe them. These days, in the mind of the public, a corporation is guilty, period, with no defense possible. Just look at some of the rush-to-judgement responses in this thread for proof of that. Apple offered a refund; they want an agreement stating that that's the end of it with no more legal action. In the internet age things tend to get blown way out of proportion for no good reason. Just look at some of the claims made on troubleshooting web sites about how widespread certain issues are.
  • Reply 20 of 105
    olternautolternaut Posts: 1,376member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by al_bundy View Post


    not the best response by Apple, but there are more deaths from some baby cribs and no one cares



    what did the family expect? the money and the ability to brag how it proves that ipods are deadly?



    I don't think they took the money. Would you?
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