Apple's iPhone has many consumer-pleasing features, but battery replacement is not going to be one of them. A consumer advocacy group has complained about Apple's $86, three-day program for putting in a new iBattery.
Unlike other cell phones, where batteries can be readily taken out and replaced by the user, the battery in the iPhone is soldered to the device and must be replaced by Apple.
The iPhone will need to be shipped to Apple and will cost $79 plus $6.95 for shipping. Users will be without their iPhone for the three business days it will take, although Apple will provide a loaner -- for $29.
On June 29, the day the iPhone launched, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) sent a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs and AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson to complain about the battery-replacement plan.
In the letter, group founder Harvey Rosenfield said that Apple should have disclosed the replacement details earlier. The letter also said that neither Apple nor AT&T had posted information about the battery replacement on their Web sites.
Apple said the replacement details were posted on its Web site Friday evening, after the iPhone went on sale. Rosenfield has since said that he didn't find the battery information until the following week, underneath several links.
Calls for Free Replacement
"The cell phone industry is notorious for not being consumer-friendly while Apple has a fairly good reputation," Rosenfield said to news media, "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."
In a press release on the FTCR Web site, the organization calls for Apple and AT&T "to provide free and immediate replacement" of the battery "at their retail locations for the life of the iPhone."
FTCR noted that news reports indicate the iPhone could need a new battery after as few as 300 to 400 charges, which might mean a new battery would be required in less than a year of use.
'Hefty' Cancellation Fee
The organization also criticized the "hefty" cancellation fee of $175 if a customer wants to get out of his or her required two-year AT&T contract that accompanies the iPhone. It said that customers "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," without a cancellation fee.
Based in Santa Monica, California, FTCR describes itself as a "non-profit, non-partisan citizen advocacy organization." It has been involved in lawsuits involving wireless services and devices against AT&T, Cingular, T-Mobile, and Nextel.
FTCR was a plaintiff in a suit against Apple on behalf of purchasers of the second-generation iPod Nano, because owners were being charged for replacement of a screen that FTCR called defective. The group noted that the screen has since been discontinued.