Second lawsuit filed over iPhone battery replacement

lawsuit argues that Apple and AT&T failed to tell early buyers of the iPhone that annual fees would be needed to replace the iPhone battery and maintain service. In its defense, however, Apple has stated that the lithium-ion battery will hold up to 80 percent of its full charge at 400 charge and discharge cycles.

A second class-action lawsuit argues that Apple and AT&T failed to tell early buyers of the iPhone that annual fees of more than US$100 (AU$125.51) would be needed to replace the iPhone battery and maintain service.

Filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by Sydney Leung on behalf of a group that could reach into hundreds of thousands of iPhone users, the suit seeks more than US$5 million in compensatory and punitive damages. A court conference on the matter was set for Nov. 28.

The nine-page complaint was filed on behalf of Leung by Oakland-based attorney H. Tim Hoffman, and argues that Apple and AT&T committed fraud by not fully informing customers about the costs and procedures for replacing the battery. The complaint argues that the battery "must" be replaced after 300 charges, anticipating a replacement at one year or less by a qualified technician, since the battery sits inside a sealed compartment.

A similar class-action suit was filed by Jose Trujillo of Illinois, in federal court in Cook County, Illinois, in July.

Leung purchased two iPhones for US$599 each on June 29 in San Francisco, the first day they went on sale, and was required to agree to a two-year service plan with AT&T. Leung "was not informed at the time of purchase of the costs and procedures for replacing the battery," the suit says. The suit seeks answers to whether Apple and AT&T "should have known that the time and expense of replacing the iPhone battery would affect initial sales of the iPhone."

Apple did not respond immediately to the lawsuit, and AT&T said it would not comment.

In its defense, however, Apple has stated on its Web site that the lithium-ion battery when properly maintained will hold up to 80 percent of its full charge at 400 charge and discharge cycles.

Also, Apple covers replacement of the battery for a full year and also has a protection plan for US$69 for two years of repair coverage for the iPhone including the battery.

Replacing a battery out of warranty costs US$79, plus US$6.95 for shipping.

In early July, a consumer watchdog group, the Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights, urged Apple to spell out its battery replacement policy for prospective buyers.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld

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