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Apple Sued Over iPod Nano

Apple Computer has been sued in California by a consumer watchdog group that claims the company's popular iPod Nano's screen scratches so badly that it becomes unreadable. The group, the Foundation for the Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, also says Apple is refusing to give refunds, and is forcing consumers to pay a $25 fee to get a replacement that should be free under Apple's warranty. Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to respond to the San Francisco Chronicle, saying the company doesn't comment on pending litigation. Read the full story.

By Stacey Garfinkle |  February 13, 2006; 12:50 PM ET Legal Battles/Settlements
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Is this a class-action suit, and if so, how does one sign on as a plaintiff to ensure that one is not left out of the settlement?

Posted by: iPod Nano Owner | February 13, 2006 1:16 PM

Posted by: David | February 13, 2006 1:55 PM

[Let's try this again...]

This is an example of what we need less of, lawsuits where people try to get compensated for their own behavior.

If you have an iPod Nano (mine is attached to this computer right now), then you know that it has a fine plastic surface on one side and a fine metal surface on the other--and you know that it will scratch. If you don't want to scratch it, then TREAT IT CAREFULLY. Go out and buy one of those plastic sleeves, and be careful with it.

Sheesh! What's the matter with people? If you buy a vase and bring it home and drop it on the floor you are not entitled to a replacement because you broke it. If you scratch up your Nano, why is the company at fault?

Posted by: David | February 13, 2006 1:59 PM

I find It Very Stupid That Apple does not give refunds to those people whos Ipod Nano screens were scratched.

Posted by: Chris | February 13, 2006 2:07 PM

There sounds like there may be some merit to this suit, though the settlement will probably end being that class members get a $10 rebate on their next ipod purchase (no help in replacing the screen, mind you) and the plaintiffs lawyers get $25 million each.

I believe there was another ipod lawsuit filed recently, however, and if it's true it really shows just how low the legal profession has sunk. Some moron sued Apple, claiming that his ipod may be a threat to his hearing. May be a threat. He had no hearing damage that he could demonstrate was caused by his ipod. In fact, he had no hearing damage at all. His ridiculous lawsuit was based entirely on the unproven notion that ipods (or other earphone-type devices) MIGHT cause some hearing damage in SOME people who use their earphones IMPROPERLY. Well, duh. If I stood next to the amp stacks at every concert I go to, could I then sue the bands / promoters for hearing damage? Ridiculous. That's our legal system, though. Throw any allegation--backed by any bit of junk science--against the wall and hope that it sticks so that you can get some money.

Posted by: Phishfanatic | February 13, 2006 2:10 PM

If you value any investment, then why wouldn't you portect it? The first thing I did, when I purchased my Nano, was buy a protective sleeve. About $10 at a Radio Shack. Of course it's going to scratch, look at how small it is.

Posted by: Dan | February 13, 2006 2:50 PM

Do all mp3 player screens scratch so easily? I'm guessing they all do.

Posted by: GipperTore | February 13, 2006 2:58 PM

In other the News ... the nano fails to work after having been cycled through a washing machine.

Posted by: Chris Barnes | February 13, 2006 3:02 PM

Take care of your nano? I got my nano on Christmas, I set it down on my desk, and two days later with out even touching it, or even put it in my pocket and it started to scratch.

Posted by: Glenn | February 13, 2006 3:16 PM

I had the same problem. I was given the nano as a present for the holidays, and 3 days later the screen is scratched, Why can't Apple save everybody the hassle and money and provide the protective sleeve with every nano? Sheesh.

Posted by: lisa | February 13, 2006 3:29 PM

free gelly ipod covers and screen protectors should come with every ipod.
PLEASE? :)

Posted by: asian | February 13, 2006 3:36 PM

I have had the Nano for 3 months now... it hasn't scratched once. Of course, I happen to know that it's an MP3 player - not a phonograph - no need to take a needle to the thing!!!

BTW, the Nano DOES come with a protective sleeve!

Posted by: duh | February 13, 2006 4:00 PM

I had my nano for about a month. I have used it very carefully and whenever I bring it with me I use the protective sleeve that came with it. And it still scratched. Not so much that I can't read the screen anymore, but scratched nontheless. I suspect it was scratched from merely been putting into and taking out of the sleeve. In comparison, I have used my cellphone, which was purchased at about the same time, without any casing, and there's not a single scratch on the external screen.

How would you feel if your watch scratches as easy as nano?

There's a difference between buying a vase and dropped it on the floor (whether by accident or not), then expect compensation, and buying a vase to put your flower in, only to find out the vase scratches from dust.

It's true that you can purchase a better 3rd party sleeve that doesn't require the nano been taking out to operate. But no where on the manual says such a sleeve is a requirement. And I can almost guarantee that without using a 3rd party sleeve your nano will be scratched. I am not so poor that I couldn't afford a sleeve (which is realistically speaking, more along the line of $25+ than $10), but I feel I am been cheated by Apple when I purchased nano without a warning that it scratches so easily. Now that after it's scratched, I went online and search about the issue, I found many ppl have the same problem. So personally I think this lawsuit is rather justified.

Posted by: Hao | February 13, 2006 4:58 PM

Only in America would people be concerned about such a trivial thing. Get real people.

Posted by: Double Duh | February 13, 2006 5:07 PM

I have to agree with the lawsuit. People paid about $250.00 for device that is defective so give the people a compensation for their trouble. the Ipod is Apple's money-cow they could at least keep the people who drink its milk happy. If you get spoiled milk from the grocery store, you'll want a replacent or your money back!

Posted by: TI-83++ | February 13, 2006 5:17 PM

I wonder whether this so called consumer watchdog group i.e. "The Foundation for the Taxpayer and Consumer Rights" out of California doesn't have some sort of an arrangement with the plaintiff's attorneys for some type of renumeration. It frankly wouldn't surprise me. And since when should companies be responsible for the consumers carelessness or stupidity.

Posted by: Don | February 13, 2006 5:18 PM

I've had a blackberry with color screen for over a year, that lives in my pocket. And in my desk. And in the change well in my car. And occassionally on the floor when I drop it (or throw it). The screen has held up to all of this, with only a few very small marks on it. If I treated a Nano that way, it'd be like looking through a strainer from all the marks on it. To me this proves that readily available clear plastic exists which is durable for pocket-bound consumer electronic use. If the folks at Apple didn't use it, knowing the uses to which their products would be put, and if their failure to use the plastic causes their products to not function as advertised (i.e., having a screen you can see) during the warranty period, they should fix it. If they don't, I could easily see them as being liable for this.

Posted by: I play one on TV... | February 13, 2006 5:41 PM

I think Apple was foolish in releasing something with a screen that uses plastic that damages so easily, but I also think it's completely absurd for individuals to SUE the company over it.

If you can't research the products you buy before you buy them, you deserve what you get. If you've always gotta "keep up with the Jones'" and you --have-- to be the first to get the newest gadgets, you deserve all the shortcomings that come with it. Also, no matter how well known any company is for making good products, they can always occasionally put out something low-quality. Is that something to sue over? No way!

Is this an issue that should be brought up so that media coverage of the problem can force the company to make that product better? You bet. That's one of the good uses of modern media.

This whole sue-happy business is a major component of why the rest of the world not only sees U.S. business practice and politicians as being corrupt, but also U.S. citizens as well. If more people in the U.S. don't denounce this type of behavior, it sets a horrible precedent around the globe about people living in the U.S.

Posted by: Fmeh | February 13, 2006 6:24 PM

i think for all the money being paid to get one of these nano's ipod should be giving out replacment screens for free or at least the first replacment. people shell out 250 dollars or more for these things then the screens get scratched so easily that they have to keep paying ipod forever.

Posted by: TJ | February 13, 2006 7:03 PM

i think for all the money being paid to get one of these nano's ipod should be giving out replacment screens for free or at least the first replacment. people shell out 250 dollars or more for these things then the screens get scratched so easily that they have to keep paying ipod forever.;

Posted by: TJ | February 13, 2006 7:03 PM

"This whole sue-happy business is a major component of why the rest of the world not only sees U.S. business practice and politicians as being corrupt, but also U.S. citizens as well."

Hilarious! I believe the rest of the world has no problem finding many more pertinent reasons to look down upon Americans, many (but not all) of them quite justified.

It's easy to minimize the responsibility of companies to back their products, especially when the gripes risen appear to be frivolous. However, do you believe that this issue would have come to this point if Apple would have been proactive at the outset and replaced/repaired the screens for free?

Like it or not, litigation is a tool to receive recompense in our country. If we didn't have this tool, many companies would abuse the buying public as a rule, rather than as, say, a result of a simple production mistake. But regardless of the motivation, it is in the best interest of a company to keep their customers (and potential customers) happy.

The entire Apple fiasco says more about Apple than the consumers who are nonplussed with easily-scratched screens, whether the latter choose to sue or not.

Posted by: Commenter | February 13, 2006 8:32 PM

I've had a nano for months now and I've never regretted it. I kept waiting for these fabled scratches to appear and block out the display and it never happened. Yes, it now has a patina of very small, fine scratches on it now, from coins and keys in my pocket I guess. These fine scratches don't in any way interfere with viewing the display on the unit.

So to people who are reading this and wondering, odds are you won't care about this issue if you buy a nano. I'm sure 99.99% of people don't care. Sometimes people ask me if my nano has gotten scratches - so I hand it over to them so they can check out the "scratches" themselves. They look at it, shrug, and don't understand the big deal about this either.

If these fine scratches upset you that much then buy a case, or spring for an uglier mp3 player that doesn't have a layer of translucent plastic on to give a wet, shiny look. I don't think translucent plastic that doesn't scratch is possible at this price point. Someone said that their watch doesn't scratch - well, your watch has a glass face. You wouldn't want an easily shattered nano made of glass!!!!

Posted by: DanM | February 13, 2006 9:56 PM

What about cell phone? PDA? None of my other things scratches as easily as nano. It seems to me there are less scratches-prone material readily available, and Apple simply used an inferior material. And btw, I have yet to have a watch face shatter on me, glass or not, despite the fact that Iabused the #%^& out of it. And it's a $20 watch, too. For something that cost $250, I expected better.

Posted by: Hao | February 14, 2006 2:03 AM

all you complainers, stop your b*****ing. If you can mess up your screen such that you can't read it. you must have abused it. pay for the screen replacement.

Posted by: Jesus | February 14, 2006 2:47 AM

There's a product called idrops that you can buy for $15 online to remove scratches from ipods. Problem solved.

Posted by: HC | February 14, 2006 7:08 PM

"Like it or not, litigation is a tool to receive recompense in our country."

What about caveat emptor?

If you don't like the product, then don't buy from that company. Stop playing the victim card and suing because you don't like the results of SOMETHING YOU DID.

Posted by: David | February 15, 2006 2:33 PM

Maybe if the average American uber-consumer would actually RESEARCH a desired product before just running out and buying it, then the rest of us responsible adults wouldn't have to listen to all these whiny complaints, or, worse yet, have our tax dollars used to support the abuse of judicial resources when those complaints evolve into idiotic lawsuits. But, no, every time a new MP3 player or XBox variant hits the market, the usual suspects line up in droves to toss their money at the altar of American consumerism.

This isn't a matter of a "defective" product being sold; near as I can tell, it's a matter of a bunch of whiny little hipsters shelling out too much money for a crappily made gadget. But when did it become sancrosact law in this country that disappointment in the quality of a purchase is compensible? Does your "scratched" Nano still play music? If yes, then it meets its warranty of merchantability and the disappointment you feel over the durability of the viewscreen, or the lack of "luster" in its general appearance caused by fingerprints, or any other use-related disappointment, is your own problem, not Apple's.

Sorry, folks, but nobody, not the courts, not the government, not your parents (once you're an adult) is responsible for saving you from the crappy decisions you make in your consumer habits. And no company should be mandated by the courts to meet a quality standard based solely on the dashed expectations of a few consumers. The so-called "consumer protection" laws in this country have been perverted to the point of lunacy, and these kinds of idiotic lawsuits are the result.

(Oh, and before anybody makes the incorrect assumption as to my political leanings, I'm not some anti-american socialist liberal, I'm actually a moderate libertarian Republican....)

Posted by: The Downside of Rampant Consumerism? | February 15, 2006 5:12 PM

"Sheesh! What's the matter with people? If you buy a vase and bring it home and drop it on the floor you are not entitled to a replacement because you broke it. If you scratch up your Nano, why is the company at fault?"

WRONG. Vases are not designed to be dropped on the floor. iPods ARE designed to be handled and put in your pocket.

I work as a design engineer. Well-designed products are ones that can tolerate the type of use they're expected to encounter. Boats are expected to tolerate getting wet; commercial airliners are expected to tolerate temperature and pressure changes, Pyrex cookware is expected to tolerate freezer and oven conditions.

From an engineering standpoint Apple could have easily designed the Nano with materials and other design features that would have made it adequately durable for ordinary use without having to baby it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 1, 2006 12:09 PM

"What about caveat emptor?

If you don't like the product, then don't buy from that company."

What if you don't find out that the product is poorly designed until AFTER you bought it? Your advice only works for fortune-tellers.

Both the legal standard AND the engineering standard are the same (I work as an engineer): a product is expected to be suitable for its intended use. I don't expect my stepladder to support the weight of a circus elephant but I do expect it to support my weight. I don't expect my car suspension to survice a drop off the top of a lift, but I do expect it to survice a bridge expansion joint. Consumers have both an ethical AND A LEGAL right to expect an MP3 player to survive normal handling and pickets without compromising its usability, including the readability of the display.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 1, 2006 12:20 PM

"What if you don't find out that the product is poorly designed until AFTER you bought it? Your advice only works for fortune-tellers."

Are you that much of a rampant consumer that you can't see the humor in what you just said? Again, if being the first one to have a new item is that important to you, you get what you deserve. When it comes to researching something before it gets bought, people have no excuse now. The internet is a wonderful tool. If a product has been out for more than a week, often times even just a couple days, there will be a way to get detailed reviews about it. If you have to get it before it's been out that long, you deserve to be disappointed, and I hope for those people who "need it right now" that it happens again and again until they get a clue, which probably will never happen--at least, not until their 10th credit card gets maxed and they face the fact that they are no longer eligible to file for bankruptcy because of the laws that changed that they didn't care about. Maybe then they could try to sue the government for that change to the bankruptcy laws so they can find out how how the government handle frivilous lawsuits.

In the 80's, should I have sued Maxell or Memorex or BASF every time they made a low-quality cassette tape that got eaten (in a brand new tapedeck) that was supposed to be high quality and cost 5 times the price? Should I have sued the company that made the tapedeck?

When I was really little, I remember constantly making the statement "That person should sue!" whenever I heard about something unpleasant happening to someone. I still hear this today coming from people on a regular basis, and from people of all ages. There isn't much out there to deter people from thinking about suing as a first option--there's not much of a message out there that promotes people being responsible for their actions. What a pity. And unfortunately, the common religion in this country promotes that mindset even more--do anything you want and be forgiven later by praying to some dead guy who was killed for standing up against organized religion and telling people to be kind to each other.

This culture has no problem suing for frivilous things. Even when a lawsuit becomes completely absurd to the majority of people, everyone may make comments about how rediculous it is, but usually the person still gets the settlement.

Truly, it's no wonder the rest of the world can't stand us. We're a bunch of clueless spoiled brats who don't care about liberty and freedom and what our government does unless it affects our ability to get cheap products at WallMart and buy cheap gas. We'll sue because of the cosmetic durability of a product, but be happy with drug companies writing the rx drug plans, polluters writing the clean air laws, credit card companies writing the bankruptcy laws, and the slow-moving pace of the conversion over to it being illegal to speak against the government like the way it is in China. But then again, being that we were founded by religious fanatics, snake oil salesmen, and slave owners, all whom were able to herd people like animals, I guess nothing should be surprising.

Spilled hot coffee anyone?

"Warning, flammable" is written all over lighters and fireworks for a reason--becuase of some sue-happy jack*ss who should have gotten a darwin award but lived to sue another day.

"Warning, the screen on this Ipod scratches very easily." is probably what will happen, along with a handful of hyperconsumers and a couple lawyers becoming very wealthy in a short amount of time.

Suing shouldn't be the first option--unfortunately for so many Americans, it is. How can we live in a society that trusts each other if we're so ready to sue each other at the drop of a hat?

Posted by: Fmeh | March 3, 2006 4:39 AM

I just have one question. For the people who claim to have "set their iPod nanos on their desks" and not touched them, do they believe the scratches spontaneously appeared? Do the scratch fairies come at night to do bad things to your iPod?

I have multiple objects that sit on my desk and do not become scratched. How can anything become scratched when you don't touch it? Come on people!

Posted by: Erin | March 16, 2006 3:03 PM

I have a nano that's badly scratched. And The screen is still readable. I would have never thought to bring up a lawsuit over it.

Posted by: LB | March 20, 2006 9:53 AM

I have a nano that's badly scratched. And the screen is still readable. I would have never thought to bring up a lawsuit over it.

Posted by: LB | March 20, 2006 9:58 AM

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