Is the iPhone 4 a scam? Did Apple knowingly make an imperfect device, one which is practically designed to drop calls, and then expect owners to cough up extra cash to buy the fix?
The answers to these questions are a resounding yes, if you ask Houston attorney Danny Sheena, who recently filed a national class-action lawsuit against Apple in Galveston federal court.
On behalf of all iPhone 4 owners, Sheena claims that Apple knew its phone antennae design was flawed, causing calls to drop, but proceeded to market anyhow without warning customers or providing a remedy other than buying more Apple gear.
Here is the apparent problem: two antennae on the iPhone 4 wrap around the outside of the device and connect along the side of the phone. When a user holds the phone, however, his fingers cover the antenna connection, causing the call to be dropped. Sheena says that by the end of the first day of sales on June 24, reports of the antenna problems were all over the Internet.
"They're selling like mad," Sheena tells Hair Balls, "but everybody one way or the other is going to find out that if you hold it naturally, somehow you're going to get cut off. It's absolutely a shame."
What's more, claims Sheena, Apple then proceeded to fault the alleged victim.
"Rather than issuing a recall," according to the lawsuit, Apple "has opted to blame consumers for holding the phone in a manner in which cell phones are normally held."
Sheena says that Apple has offered the solution of purchasing a rubber "bumper" case, which protects the antennae from being directly touched, for an additional $29.95, to remedy the defect.
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"Apple says you have to pay to get the fix," he says, "and we say, 'No.' It's a scam."
The hope, says Sheena, is that every one of the more than a million people who have purchased the iPhone 4 will either get reimbursed or get the fix for free.
Apple "knowingly concealed the defect in the iPhone 4 until it became clear by overwhelming proof presented in the media that the iPhone 4 was defective," the lawsuit states. "By engaging in the conduct ... [Apple] is guilty of fraud."
We'll keep our "i" on this one.