Call to address; iPhone worries

Published on

The Gold Coast Bulletin (Australia)

Just 24 hours after Apple’s much hyped iPhone was released on to the US market, Apple and its mobile carrier partner AT&T have come under fire from a powerful consumer advocacy group.

Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights has warned Apple CEO Steve Jobs and CEO of AT&T Stan Sigman they need to agree to new consumer safeguards for the iPhone.

In a letter to the two CEOs, FTCR founder Harvey Rosenfield has called on them to address two serious potential problems — the issue of battery replacement and the cancellation penalty the pair have said they will impose on anyone wanting to get out of the two-year contract they have to sign for when they buy their iPhone.

Unlike all other handheld phones, the iPhone battery is not user replaceable.

If news reports are correct, the iPhone battery could require replacement within one year, said Rosenfield.

The companies have not disclosed if they will charge consumers to replace the battery, or if customers will have to mail their phones to the company and wait for a replacement.

FTCR wants the companies to provide free and immediate replacements at their retail locations for the life of the iPhone.

The companies have announced that consumers must agree to a two-year contract for AT&T wireless service to activate the iPhone; they will also impose a hefty $200 cancellation fee for early termination.

But FTCR says that such fees are unnecessary and consumers should be permitted to cancel the contract at any time based upon device failure, loss or theft, inadequate wireless service/coverage or any other reasonable basis.

”The introduction of the iPhone has been heralded as a major evolution in the multifunction cell phone,” said Rosenfield.

”Apple and AT&T should take this opportunity to adopt policies and practices that respect the rights of their customers.”

FTCR has brought several lawsuits on behalf of the public challenging the practices, services and charges of wireless companies including AT&T, Cingular, T-Mobile and Nextel.

The group also sued Apple on behalf of customers who bought the second-generation iPod Nano and were charged for replacement of its defective screen. Meanwhile, Australian consumers should not hold their breath waiting for the iPhone to be released here.

It is not expected here for at least another six months and then it will be tied to a mobile phone carrier. That means you will not be able to just buy the phone and swap your existing sim card into it.

One advantage of the delay is that by the time it reaches Australia any bugs should have been ironed out and hopefully it will have been upgraded to work with our 3G networks.

At present, the US model is only capable to using 2.5G or EDGE networks which provide a slower internet connection. Meanwhile, analysts are expecting the popularity of the iPhone in the US to make it a target for hackers.

‘It is not expected here for at least another six months and then it will be tied to a mobile phone carrier.’

Consumer Watchdog
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