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Apple Settles iPod Battery Suit, Announces iPod Recycling

Last week saw two significant developments regarding Apple’s now-iconic iPod music players: an Apple-sponsored recycling program designed to diminish the environmental impact of millions of iPods one day being landfilled, and a tentative settlement in a class action lawsuit over battery life in early iPod models.

Reduce, Re-use… and Replace! Effective immediately, users can take iPods they don’t want anymore to any U.S. Apple Store for free "environmentally friendly" disposal; anyone dropping off an iPod, iPod mini, or iPod photo will receive a 10 percent discount on the purchase of a new iPod. However, the 10 percent discount is only good that day – no saving a coupon and hoping an even cooler iPod ships next month – and, while Apple will presumably accept iPod shuffles for recycling, they don’t qualify for the 10 percent discount. Apple makes a point that iPods received in the U.S. will be processed domestically and no hazardous material will be shipped overseas. In the future, we hope Apple expands its recycling programs to products other than iPods – good candidates would be laptop batteries, monitors, and CPUs – and that the company makes product recycling available to customers internationally. It’s the same planet, after all.

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Battery Charges Settled? Although you won’t see any word of it from Apple sources, on 12-May-05 Apple quietly agreed to a settlement of a class action lawsuit regarding battery life on older iPods. A California Superior Court judge still has to approve the deal on 25-Aug-05, although that’s expected to be a formality, and some iPod owners began receiving notice of the settlement last Thursday.

The terms cover first, second, and third generation iPods with a one-year warranty sold before 01-Jun-04 and which were advertised to play music for 8 hours on a single charge. Consumers who can show proof of purchase of an eligible iPod can receive a one-year extension of their iPod’s warranty. Consumers who can show proof of purchase and found their iPods either played music for less than 50 percent of the advertised time or that iPod batteries failed over time may:

  • make a claim for a new iPod; or
  • have their current iPod fixed by Apple; or
  • receive a $50 credit for Apple products.

Although the settlement is estimated to apply to as many as 2 million iPod users, the proof-of-purchase requirement reduces Apple’s vulnerability a bit, since iPods purchased second-hand aren’t eligible. Under the agreement, Apple neither admits to any wrongdoing nor to any defect in the iPod; in fact, at least in public, Apple is sticking to the party line that iPods perform as advertised, so long as users practice good battery management.


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