Monday, July 9, 2007

iPhone's Battery Woes

We love Apple stuff. The computers are great. Easy to use, intuitive,'re more likely to overthink a problem than with another computer. So we generally love their products and as a result, we're faithful customers.

The iPhone is a cool toy, but we're not fooled. It's a expensive toy. Besides, it's the first generation, which means there will be serious quirks and shortcomings that should be fixed in future models (e.g., no IM chatting). As faithful Apple customers, we know better. Apparently, the guy interviewed in this article doesn't. Harvey Rosenfield, founder of Foundation for Consumer and Taxpayer Rights, a consumer advocacy group "has expressed outrage over Apple Inc.'s battery replacement program for the iPhone." In a letter to Apple and AT&T, he wrote that customers were "left in the dark about the procedure and cost of replacing the gadget's battery."

Seriously? Apple's notoriety with iPods and their battery replacement system didn't cross this guy's path? The battery doesn't last forever, and because it's a sealed box, you can't change the battery yourself. You have to take it in, they'll change the battery at a cost of $79.95, plus 6.95 for shipping, and you get it back in 3 business days. If you *need* a phone in the meantime, you can get a loaner for $29. This might seem expensive if you just got a free phone for signing up with your carrier, but that's not what happened. If you're in this pickle, you just dropped $500-600 on a new phone, which means you're hardly the frugal type. And just to put it in perspective, all phones will eventually have to have their batteries changed, and a new battery will likely cost in excess of $50 regardless of the manufacturer. That said, few people bother to keep their phones that long. Carrier's promotions often make it more cost-efficient to get a new phone rather than replace a current phone's battery.

But the kicker for me was when Rosenfeld said "the cell phone industry is notorious for not being consumer-friendly while Apple has a fairly good reputation, so for Apple to stand on a technicality of a hidden disclosure that's going to cost the user as much as 20 percent of the purchase price I think will prove to be a colossal mistake."


Like I said, we love Apple products, which is why we keep coming back. They provide a stellar out of the box experience that makes you feel like a kid at Christmas every time you open one of their boxes. But their customer service is lousy. I've called and emailed and come to similar conclusions on either occasion. They're short, if not rude, unresponsive, and seemingly indifferent. In fact, it all makes sense now, Apple's venturing into the cell phone market.

Anyway, research your purchases well so you don't turn into bitter people like poor Mr. Rosenfield.