Vietnamese lawyers file lawsuit against Apple over slowing iPhones

By Ngan Anh   February 2, 2018 | 05:10 pm PT
Vietnamese lawyers file lawsuit against Apple over slowing iPhones
An Apple Store staff shows Apple's new iPhones X after they go on sale at the Apple Store in Regents Street, London, Britain, November 3, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Peter Nicholls/File Photo
Litigants claim that Apple’s software has intentionally forced customers to replace batteries or buy new phones.

Two lawyers have taken out a class action lawsuit signed by 4,500 people against U.S. tech giant Apple Inc. seeking compensation for slowing older iPhone models.

The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court is considering the suit filed by lawyers Nguyen Ngoc Hung and Tran Manh Tung from the Bar Association of Hanoi. The suit was filed on January 10, but the court has yet to decide if it will hear the case or not.

Apple admitted on December 20 that operating software updates have slowed down the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S and iPhone SE models to prevent them from shutting down abruptly due to aging batteries.

The admission has struck a nerve on social media, with many people saying Apple has intentionally slowed older phones to encourage customers to buy new ones. No credible evidence has emerged that Apple has ever done so. On December 28, Apple issued a public apology to customers over the battery issue and said it has never purposely shortened the life of its products.

Litigants claim that Apple’s software has forced customers to replace batteries or buy new phones, which has resulted in their devices losing value.

Claiming the technical defect has been intentionally caused by Apple, the two lawyers asked the court to consider the case under Vietnam’s consumer rights laws.

According to the plaintiffs, Apple has violated the Law on Consumers’ Right Protection, which regulates that producers and traders have a responsibility to warn of the possibility that their products and services could have a negative impact on consumers’ health or assets. The tech giant did not disclose the nature of its software updates to iPhone users.

The lawyers have also asked the court to force Apple to repair its software, offer Vietnamese iPhone users compensation for their losses, and prevent any damage that could be caused by updating software or using new operating systems on their phones in the future.

Lawyer Hung said he wants local consumers to realize that their legitimate rights and interests have been infringed.

“In Vietnam, Apple often makes annual revenue of $1 billion, but it does not offer any support for local consumers when their phones malfunction. Apple's after-sales policy in Vietnam is very poor compared to other markets,” Tuoi Tre quoted him as saying.

“This is not the first time Apple has treated its customers in Vietnam badly. We have sufficient evidence to claim our legitimate rights, as customers of Apple,” he said.

Explaining the reason for filing the lawsuit against the U.S-based Apple in Vietnam, Hung said the tech giant has a legal representative in Vietnam - Apple Vietnam. Thus, the plaintiffs have the right to file the suit in Vietnam.

Consumers in many countries, including the U.S., France, and South Korea, have filed lawsuits over Apple’s software updates, which they allege cause unexpected shutdowns and hamper the performance of the iPhone SE, 6 and 7 models.

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