Woman fails to find Apple's Black Friday gift card offer terms, launches class action suit...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2018
A dubious class action lawsuit against Apple accuses the company of misleading customers during its recent Black Friday shopping event by supposedly promoting products not covered by a gift card promotion, but the basis of the suit itself appears to stem from a consumer failing to read the terms and conditions of the sale.

Screenshots of the Apple Shopping Event supplied as part of a lawsuit over gift cards
Screenshots of the Apple Shopping Event supplied as part of a lawsuit over gift cards


The Apple Shopping Event took place from Black Friday until Cyber Monday, offering gift cards worth between $25 and $200 with the purchase of specific models of iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices. The sale is annual and has featured a similar promotion in previous years, with certain products like new releases or low-cost items not typically included.

According to a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on November 29, Apple "advertised and marketed certain of its products in a manner that falsely and misleadingly led customers to believe that the purchase of such products included the applicable gift card."

By way of proof, screenshots of the Apple Store app show the Apple Shopping Event link at the top of the page, promoting the offer. By clicking that link, consumers are "led to believe" the products featured on that page are part of the shopping event, including the gift card values associated with each item.

After selecting one of the items, the suit asserts Apple further represents the item is included in the offer by adding text at the top of the configuration screen, such as "Get a $200 Apple Store Gift Card when you buy select Mac models today*" when ordering a MacBook Air. Even though the banner at the top of the pages references the sale in general, the woman filing the suit believes it indicated the product being ordered was applicable to receive a gift card.

"Select" and buried terms

The suit also claims Apple acted in an "intentionally deceptive manner" for products "for which it had no intention actually to provide gift cards upon purchase," due to the use of the word "select" in its marketing. Apple then "concealed" what the term actually meant in terms of the promotion by "hiding the explanation at the bottom of three separate layers of terms and conditions."

In this case, the suit refers to text at the bottom of the page that explains where and when the offer is valid, the purchase of "select Apple products," and a link to terms and conditions. Clicking the link took users to an external page outside the app on the Apple website that offered the same text, and a link to the terms and conditions page.

On this final page, Apple includes the full terms and conditions of the sale, including "a few parenthetical statements that cryptically indicate that certain Apple products might have been excluded" from the sale. As some of the products were apparently accessible by the Apple Shopping Event link and were interpreted by the woman as "represented" as being eligible for a gift card, the suit declares "Apple engaged in clearly false, deceptive, and misleading marketing and advertising."

The suit adds the plaintiff, named as California resident Jessica Lee, bought a MacBook Air with Retina display via the link, but did not receive a $200 gift card she expected would be provided with the purchase. The Retina MacBook Air was not included in the gift card offer -- which was spelled out in the terms and conditions of the sale.

The case seeks class action status for all customers in the United States that bought products during the promotion that did not receive the card, as well as a subclass representing all Californian citizens.

The suit includes a number of claims for relief, accusing Apple of violating the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, California's Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, breach of Express Warranty, breach of Implied Warranty, and Common Law Fraud, as well as a seventh claim under "Quasi-contract/Restitution."

While a specific monetary amount for relief is not suggested, the suit does demand damages, prejudgement interest, interest on any economic losses, and an order of restitution. A trial by jury is also demanded.

It is probable that the suit won't be too much of a worry for Apple, as while the accusations suggest the terms are buried in successive links making them harder to see on a mobile device, the terms are ultimately offered to consumers. It is also doubtful that many people would have seen the banner advertising the sale on the configuration pages and immediately assumed it related to the in-progress order for items not covered by the sale.

Additionally, the gift card would have been listed on the final page of the ordering process before clicking buy, making it more apparent that the device in question may or may not qualify for the offer.

It is also reasonable to expect that a consumer tempted by a $200 gift card would query with Apple directly about it being missing, or even return the purchase for a full refund, before resorting to legal action. It is unclear if either route was taken by the plaintiff before the filing was made. Given that it has been seven days after the sale began, Lee is still well within the time limits of Apple's return policy -- which were recently extended for holiday purchases.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    Additionally, the gift card would have been listed on the final page of the ordering process before clicking buy, making it more apparent that the device in question may or may not qualify for the offer
    That was my first thought. If you get a gift card, shouldn't it be listed on your order. You know, the one the page specifically tells you to review before clicking Buy?
    radarthekatmagman1979ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 37
    adbeadbe Posts: 18member
    I'm surprised this hasn't come up before because I've encountered purposely/carelessly flagged deals like that on many sites, not just Apple.  BestBuy in particular often require a bit of attention to work out what the deal actually is.

    She's got half a case here in that, yeah at first glance I'd probably have thought the same thing, but clicking through to the purchase area would have clued her in if she was paying attention, and as I said, this is pretty common across all retailers.  


  • Reply 3 of 37
    Has she made reasonable efforts to mitigate her damages? By, e.g., attempting to return what she bought for a refund? I don’t see indication that she did in the complaint.
    sully54randominternetpersonmagman1979ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 37
    crowleycrowley Posts: 6,018member
    DAalseth said:
    Additionally, the gift card would have been listed on the final page of the ordering process before clicking buy, making it more apparent that the device in question may or may not qualify for the offer
    That was my first thought. If you get a gift card, shouldn't it be listed on your order. You know, the one the page specifically tells you to review before clicking Buy?
    You notice when it's there, but would you necessarily notice when it's not there?  Not sure I would.

    Looking at those screenshots, it does look like Apple are playing a bit fast and loose and not being clear about what products the offer applies to.  I think it's entirely reasonable to believe that the products on the screen are the ones covered by the offer.

    I wouldn't assume that Apple did it deliberately as opposed to carelessly, but any carelessness works to Apple's advantage, so it's right that they should be criticised for it.
    berndoglorin schultzmattinoz
  • Reply 5 of 37
    And where does she claim that she saw that the Macbook Air with Retina Display was offered with a gift card?  Her own screenshots clearly show the older Macbook Air.  Seems like a pretty open and shut case (and not in her favor).
    magman1979ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 37
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,765member
    Mmmm.

    Looking at that second screen shot then I would assume that the gift card applies to all the products listed on that page. (Yes, I know it says 'select products')

    I would have read the final confirmation because I'm not an idiot, but I don't think that folk should go through the entire buying process and then find out right at the end that the gift card doesn't apply. 

    They should make it much clearer. Put a little gift card against each item that it applies to.



    berndogairnerdwatto_cobragatorguy
  • Reply 7 of 37
    Rayz2016 said:
    Mmmm.

    Looking at that second screen shot then I would assume that the gift card applies to all the products listed on that page. (Yes, I know it says 'select products')



    It's a bit nit-picky but if you look close at the screen shot (and checked the site on Black Friday) you'll note it's not the Retina MacBook Air in the picture, just the 2017 model.

    If you clicked that link it took you to the 2017 model. The 2018 was not on the linked page.
    ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 37
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,133moderator
    adbe said:
    I'm surprised this hasn't come up before because I've encountered purposely/carelessly flagged deals like that on many sites, not just Apple.  BestBuy in particular often require a bit of attention to work out what the deal actually is.

    She's got half a case here in that, yeah at first glance I'd probably have thought the same thing, but clicking through to the purchase area would have clued her in if she was paying attention, and as I said, this is pretty common across all retailers.  


    Happened to me on Food Panda here in the Philippines.  On some of the restaurant pages there was a banner that said Free Delivery, but when I ordered my meal from one of those restaurants the final shopping kart page included the usual delivery charge.  Took me goung back to the original restaurant list to finally see the very small text indicated certain items for which delivery was free that evening.  Not siding with the plaintive, but sympathizing with her and others. 
    beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 10 of 37
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,133moderator
    Just looked at the screen shots.  The word ‘select’
    isrught there between ‘when you buy’ and ‘Mac models.’  If you are seeing the offer at all you have to read all the way to ‘Mac models’ to know what the offer applies to, and so there’s zero chance you could know the offer applies to Mac models without having read that it applies to ‘select Mac Models.’
    edited November 2018 ronnRayz2016
  • Reply 11 of 37
    I'm impressed with how fast she was about to make her mistake, realize her mistake, decide to sue, find a lawyer, get them to draft a complaint, and file a complaint.  It's frankly unbelievably fast.  Almost like someone was actively waiting to jump on this before it was even rolled out.

    I especially like the "interest on any economic losses" part of the damage claim.  Anyone know the interest one would earn on $200 in a week?  Oh wait, I do: $0.00002.  I'll write her a check myself.
    magman1979ronnradarthekatjbdragon
  • Reply 12 of 37
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,672member
    Hmmm.. it's less than a week after the promotion ended and she's already filing a class action suit. Hmmmm...
    ronn
  • Reply 13 of 37
    MplsP said:
    Hmmm.. it's less than a week after the promotion ended and she's already filing a class action suit. Hmmmm...
    WTH......go get a Wallmart or Target for gift card...
    if you cannot afford Apple, go get Cromebooks.
    simple as that.....what’s wrong with this people?? Spoiled pos....grrrrrr
  • Reply 14 of 37
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,716member
    If "select" or "exclusions apply" is listed in the ad, I would look for those items in the T&C. Some people are just lazy. 
    edited November 2018 ronnrandominternetperson
  • Reply 15 of 37
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,313member
    Typical example of the kind of suit in which Apple will gladly pay the plaintiff and her lawyer a few grand to make it go away rather than spend hundreds of thousands defending it. And her lawyer knows it, being the quick bucks scam artist he/she is.

    But we still have the usual suspects here commenting on how Apple is guilty by default, the usual “all corporations are lying, evil entities” mentality.
  • Reply 16 of 37
    Size of class: 1.  
    coolfactorjbdragonrandominternetperson
  • Reply 17 of 37
    I would not assume a rebate (in the form of a gift card, in this case) would appear on the sales receipt. I'd just expect to receive the rebate after the purchase took place. I made the same mistake, thinking their $100 gift card deal applied to my new iPad Pro purchase. Yes, it said "select," but then it listed the new iPad Pro I wanted right below it. I went to the Apple Store to pick up my order and multiple employees were also confused about why I hadn't received the card. I found it highly suspicious that this misleading promotion was changed the day after Black Friday. When I went back to show the employees what the Apple Store app had shown, it was completely different. While I certainly don't think this is worth a lawsuit (I just returned my purchase in disappointment), it would have been nice if Apple had honored the misleading price discount. I'm frustrated enough (both with Apple and myself for trusting that they wouldn't do something misleading) that I'll probably just wait another year before upgrading my iPad.
  • Reply 18 of 37
    What some of you fail to appreciate is that people are entitled to whatever they want. In this case, the woman wants a gift card.

     If people have misunderstood what Apple put on their website, it is clearly Apple’s fault.  And it’s your fault if you misunderstood what I’ve written.  Similarly,  it is Apple’s fault if one of their computers fails at any time for any reason. For example, if you use an Apple computer under water and it has water damage, Apple should’ve anticipated this and installed a gasket or a filter of some kind.


    wonkothesanerandominternetperson
  • Reply 19 of 37
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,765member
    mknelson said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    Mmmm.

    Looking at that second screen shot then I would assume that the gift card applies to all the products listed on that page. (Yes, I know it says 'select products')



    It's a bit nit-picky but if you look close at the screen shot (and checked the site on Black Friday) you'll note it's not the Retina MacBook Air in the picture, just the 2017 model.

    If you clicked that link it took you to the 2017 model. The 2018 was not on the linked page.
    I stand corrected. 
  • Reply 20 of 37
    Apple:  "Sure, we'll see you in court." (riotous laughing in background)
    jbdragon
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