More than 200,000 South Koreans take part in Apple lawsuit
Cheaper battery replacements without proper notice is not enough, say customers
By Kang Seung-woo
Apple’s troubles seem to be getting bigger due to its “batterygate” scandal, despite its plans to make up for its interference with the iPhones of customers without permission.
Korea’s iPhone customers have complained that Apple’s offer of cheaper battery replacements is short of fully compensating the users for its poor battery performance. In addition, the beginning of the battery swap without notice is also drawing criticism.
Anger has mounted over the smartphone maker’s software tweak that slowed down old iPhones for a longer battery life, which led to multiple lawsuits. In response, Apple decided to offer cheaper battery replacements — down from US$79 (84,000 won) to US$29 — to make up for it. In Korea, iPhone users can replace their batteries for 66,000 won during the given period, down from the original price of 100,000 won.
Those who fall victim to battery degradation are owners of iPhone 6 and later versions.
“Apple intentionally slowed performance of the older iPhones. Despite its apparent fault, the company is still shifting the financial burden of swapping batteries to its customers,” said Seo Kwang-duk, who described himself as a loyal iPhone user.
“It is deceiving customers and betraying their trust.”
When apologising for the battery scandal, Apple said the battery discounts would begin in late January through December 2018. However, the battery swap was already available in the United States, according to U.S. media outlets. Worse, Apple Korea’s office had no knowledge of the timetable of the compensation plan.
As local media outlets pointed out the difference in management of “batterygate,” Apple Korea announced Tuesday that iPhone users can now replace their old batteries with new ones at the discounted price.
“As a long-time iPhone user, Apple’s recent announcement was very disappointing,” said Howard Kim, who currently has an iPhone 7.
“It would be a costly mistake for Apple to underestimate Korean consumers by offering them battery replacement options that differ from those in the U.S.”
After confirming the processor deceleration, the California-based company faces a dozen lawsuits. Consumers in five countries — Israel, France, Australia, the U.S. and Korea — are also expected to take Apple to court.
In France, an environmental group has filed a criminal lawsuit against Apple as the European country has made it illegal to purposely limit the lifespan of a product to increase the replacement rate.
In Korea, more than 200,000 are set to participate in a lawsuit against the iPhone slowdown.
According to Hannuri, a Korean law firm, approximately 240,000 iPhone users have applied to file a joint lawsuit against the smartphone maker. It plans to collect more litigants through January 11. It expects 300,000 users to participate in the lawsuit.
The number of litigants is likely to increase as Hwimyung, another Seoul-based law firm, is also gathering iPhone users to file a lawsuit. According to the law firm, thousands of people have expressed their intention to join the move. It plans to sign up participants until next month.
“After Apple’s announcement of the battery replacements, Korean consumers are more infuriated,” Hwimyung lawyer Park Hwi-young said.
In the wake of the scandal, the Korea Communications Commission has asked Apple for an explanation.
The commission is in charge of regulating telecommunications to ensure user protection.