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Apple will pay compensation in water-damaged iPhone cases

Karen Haslam | April 16, 2013
Has Apple ever refused to repair your iPhone because it was water damaged? If you made a warranty claim and were turned down by Apple before December 2009 you may be able to claim compensation.

Has Apple ever refused to repair your iPhone because it was water damaged? If you made a warranty claim and were turned down by Apple before December 2009 you may be able to claim compensation.

Similarly if Apple refused to repair your iPod touch for free prior to June 2010, you may be able to claim compensation.

In both cases compensation claims are only valid in the US, but the fact that Apple has agreed to settle in the cases above may well mean that similar settlements could happen here in the UK.

In fact back in June 2010, BBC Watchdog highlighted this exact concern. According to the BBC report, unhappy Apple customers were claiming poor after sales service when they returned faulty iPhones. Apple Store staff were insisting faults were the result of water damage, which voids the phones warranty, leaving customers little option but to buy a new iPhone, pay for the repair or shop elsewhere.

Watchdog suggested that Apple was failing in their duty to properly check customer claims that phones have stayed clear of water or liquid.

Apple has set aside $53 million to be used for compensation claims from people who attempted to get a damaged iPhone and iPod touch fixed within their warranty period, but were refused because Apple asserted that the device had water damage, thereby voiding the warranty.

Wired obtained Apple's statement, signed by Apple chief litigation counsel Noreen Krall. A key point to note: Apple admits no wrongdoing.

In the statement Apple outlines that it "disputes the claims alleged in the Federal Action and the State Action and does not by this Settlement Agreement admit any liability or wrongdoing whatsoever."

Apple writes that it "has agreed to enter into this settlement Agreement to avoid the future expense, inconvenience and distraction of burdensome litigation."

The company later emphasizes that the settlement is based on "the desire of Apple to conduct its business unhampered by the distractions of continued litigation".

What was the basis of the legislation?

At issue was Apple's former Liquid Damage Policy that was changed in December 2009 for iPhone and in June 2010 for iPod touch. Prior to that date a warranty claim could be denied based "solely on a Triggered Headphone Jack LCI and or Triggered Dock LCI".

One of the first things that Apple does when you request a repair to be made to a faulty iPhone or iPod touch, is to check the status of Liquid Contact Indicator (LCI). This is a hidden tape strip (provided by 3M) that signals excessive exposure to water. The LCI reacts to moisture and is found in the device's headphone jack and charging port (hence the reference to it being 'triggered'). If Apple discovered that this LCI is white it means that the paper has not come into contact with water, and therefore your warranty is intact. However, if it is pink, your warranty is void and you may face an expensive repair bill.

 

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