…and many other publications.
I sued Apple, tech giant was forced to refund iPhone 4 money due to widely-known antenna problem: the Antennagate or the Death Grip.
All others who bought the iPhone 4 with the antenna issue should also have their money fully refunded.
Read about my experience:
In the fall of 2010, I purchased the iPhone 4 from Apple, Inc. (Apple) authorized retailer/wireless carrier.
From day one I experienced antenna and reception issues: the iPhone 4 lost (and still loses) its connection to the wireless network when its bottom left corner was covered by my hand during a call, or while browsing the internet, using apps, etc.
Apparently, the reception problem wasn’t unique to my iPhone 4. Many iPhone 4 users were experiencing the same problems. Right after the release of the iPhone 4 in 2010, the antenna and reception issue was broadly covered in the national media. The press dubbed it the “Death Grip” issue.
After testing the iPhone 4, Consumer Reports, the preeminent consumer publication, decided not to recommend the device to its readers because of the aforementioned antenna and reception issues.
Read about it on Engadget here:
A whole sub-chapter of Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson, “Antennagate,” is dedicated to the issue. Isaacson describes, in detail, how the steal rim around the iPhone 4, which serves as structural support as well as an antenna, can drastically diminish the wireless signal.
Spencer Webb, an antenna designer who detailed the issue on his blog, explains that In order to serve as an antenna, the iPhone 4’s rim must have two tiny gaps. If at least one of these gaps comes into contact with a human hand, signal loss will most likely result. “There is no way around this, it’s a design compromise that is forced by the requirements of the FCC, AT&T, Apple’s marketing department and Apple’s industrial designers, to name a few,” Webb wrote.
Apple is known for putting design over engineering. It pays off, as consumers love minimalistic-but-sexy Apple designs. However, by taking a “design first” approach with the iPhone 4, Apple screwed up. They made a phone which does not work when in contact with a human hand!
At first, Apple denied the iPhone 4 antenna problem entirely. Later it attempted to shift public attention from the iPhone 4 by declaring that all mobile phones have similar problems and that they all drop calls. This did not work because the iPhone 4’s problems are unique. The heart of the issue is not dropped calls, which are usually related to network capacity and volume of calls. The heart of the issue is lost wireless signal, which occurs exclusively when the bottom left corner of the iPhone 4 is covered by hand. It occurs during calls, resulting in dropped calls. It also occurs while browsing the Internet or using apps, resulting in others not being able to reach you due to lost signal. I’ve never heard of any other phone that does that. This problem does not occur in the first generation iPhone, the iPhone 3G, or the iPhone 3Gs, because their antennae are different: they are not defective.
Watch my the “Death Grip” video
As you can see in the video, the iPhone 4 is virtually unusable when its bottom left corner is covered by a hand. My iPhone is unlocked, and I use T-Mobile’s service. iPhone 4′s using AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, as well as foreign carriers’ services experience the same problem. There are many iPhone 4 Death-Grip-related videos on YouTube:
AT&T iPhone 4 “Death Grip”:
Verizon iPhone 4 “Death Grip”:
Sprint iPhone 4 “Death Grip”:
SingTel (Singapore) iPhone 4 “Death Grip”:
The list goes on.
To the best of my knowledge, Apple never publicly admitted that the iPhone 4 was defective. However, its actions spoke louder than its words. In late 2010, for a limited time, Apple agreed to accept the iPhone 4 from everyone who wanted to return it. To those who decided to keep the iPhone 4, Apple offered a free rubber case dubbed the “bumper.” The bumper covers the steal rim and prevents it from making contact with the hand, thus preventing the signal loss.
Apple, the company which values design and aesthetics above all else (even in the covers and cases of its gadgets—think about iPad smart covers), issued ugly rubber bumpers to cover what is arguably its most beautiful creation ever. After taking such an unprecedented step, Apple still claimed that the iPhone 4 was not defective.
The irony here is that at first Apple jeopardized the quality of the iPhone 4 in favor of its unique design feature: the steal rim. Later it had to sacrifice the design and issue free bumpers to cover the rim, in order for the iPhone 4 to work properly.
The ugly bumper, however, did fix the problem. I did not receive a free one from Apple, but decided to buy one and keep the iPhone 4, rather than returning it.
Watch my iPhone with the bumper video:
After using the bumper for about a year, my power on-off button stopped working. In my opinion, the iPhone 4’s power button wasn’t designed to withstand additional pressure from the bumper’s metal button. In attempting to fix the antenna issue, new problems were created. This is when my iPhone 4 became completely unusable and I decided to ask for refund.
In May of 2012, I called Apple support with the intention of requesting a refund, but wasn’t even given an option to talk to a live customer service representative due to my iPhone 4’s 1-year limited warranty having expired. I later mailed a letter to Apple requesting a refund for my iPhone 4, which had been defective since the day I purchased it. My request was not granted.
Under Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), the law governing the sale of goods, every merchant who sells a product in the U.S. promises that it is fit for its ordinary purpose. Since the moment of purchase my iPhone 4 was not fit for its ordinary purpose because I was not able to make phone calls while holding the phone in the usual manner. By selling defective iPhone 4′s, Apple breached a contract. Since it ignored my requests for a refund, I decided to sue Apple in Small Claims Court.
In compliance with Small Claims Court procedures, on May 21, 2012, I mailed Apple a letter of demand for payment in the amount of $599.00 (the price of a new 16 GB iPhone 4, before wireless carrier subsidy). Since Apple did not satisfy my demand, on June 1, 2012, I filed a Small Claims Complaint with Las Vegas Justice Court and served Apple’s registered agent, who is designated to accept service of lawsuits in Nevada, with receipt of a copy of the complaint.
By law, after being served, the defendant has 20 days to file a written Answer with Las Vegas Justice Court. Apple did not exercise its right to defend itself and failed to file an Answer.
Since Apple did not file an Answer to my Complaint, on July 28, I filed a request for a Default Judgment with the Court.
On August 15, 2012, one of Apple’s corporate lawyers contacted me via email and informed me that Apple would soon process the Payment of Judgment. Five days later, the day Apple became the world’s most valuable company in history—with market capitalization of $624 billion—the same lawyer emailed me again and informed me that a check in the amount of $884.60 (principal amount of the lawsuit plus Court costs) had been mailed. I received the check on August 24.
At no point did Apple try to deny my claim that my iPhone 4 was not fit for its ordinary purpose due to the antenna issue, and thus try to deny that I should be refunded in full. What’s more, Apple didn’t even wait for the judge to approve my request for Default Judgment. I was awarded judgment against Apple by Las Vegas Justice Court Judge on August 20, 2012. Apple was ordered to pay me the principal amount (the cost of the iPhone 4 and sales tax) plus the amount of court costs (filing fees, etc.). The total amount: $884.60. However, the Apple lawyer told me 5 days before the judge’s decision, and more than two weeks before the judgment was released by the Court, that I would receive payment. This reveals that my case wasn’t overlooked in Apple’s corporate law department. It also, once again, demonstrates that Apple had no intention of fighting my claim that the iPhone 4 was defective due to the bad antenna design.
One might think that the amount of $884.60 was too small for Apple to bother with, but Apple is known to have vigorously fought Small Claims cases related to its other products (see a link to one case below). So it wasn’t that. In my opinion, overwhelming evidence suggests that the iPhone 4 is defective. Apple would have lost in court because Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) prohibits sale of defective goods. It is reasonable to assume that, by choosing not to fight–and presumably lose–in court, Apple was attempting to avoid creating a precedent. By winning a case against Apple and proving in court that the iPhone 4 is defective I could have triggered the avalanche of similar lawsuits. If courts were to be faced with similar cases, they should make the same decision. Thus, everyone who sued Apple for selling the iPhone 4 with the defective antenna should have been, consequently, awarded compensation. By failing to appear in court, Apple avoided creating the precedent. The Judge awarded a default judgment in my favor, but this does not mean that the Court has agreed with what was claimed, thus Apple has avoided the consequences.
Read about how vigorously Apple represented itself in a MacBook Pro Small Claims lawsuit:
Copy of Default Judgment in my case again Apple:
By not defending itself in court Apple avoided the consequences of a precedent. At the same time Apple was also seeking to prevent future lawsuits like mine from happening by settling iPhone 4 Class-Action lawsuit.
Apple iPhone 4 Products Liability Litigation, a Class-Action lawsuit on behalf of other people with similar claims, was filed against Apple in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit claimed that the iPhone 4’s signal quality attenuates when users handle the phone, and that Apple engaged in misrepresentation regarding the phone. Apple denied all allegations but, nonetheless, eventually entered into a settlement. The settlement provides a $15 cash payment to United States residents who are or were the original owner of an iPhone 4, and who experienced antenna or reception issues, and satisfy other requirements (explained on the iPhone 4 Settlement website). The deadline to file a claim for a $15 cash payment was August 28, 2012.
Under current law, those who did not exclude themselves from the Class-Action suit are prohibited from suing Apple for the same issue. The last day to have excluded oneself from the Class-Action was June 15, 2012. (I did exclude myself from the Class-Action before that date).
Those who bought a defective iPhone 4 will receive $15 compensation, although it is obvious that the full purchase amount of at least $599 should be refunded. Apple has refunded me the full amount; why, then, should everyone else get only $15?
You can find more information about the Apple iPhone 4 Products Liability Litigation at the official iPhone 4 Settlement Website here:
The Apple iPhone 4 Products Liability Litigation exposes how fundamentally flawed the Class-Action lawsuit system is in the U.S. The only winners in this case, as in many other similar cases, will be the litigation lawyers and the corporation.
Court documents state that Class Counsel will ask the Court for attorneys’ fees and expenses of up to $5.9 million. The team of litigation lawyers, who will get millions, was able to secure only $15 each for their clients, people who bought defective iPhone 4′s. I, on the other hand, an immigrant who has no education in law, was able to get a full refund of $599 (plus sales tax and court costs) for the same issue. You can’t help but wonder: were these lawyers really representing their clients zealously, as the law requires?
Apple will get off way too easily: it will pay only $15 to each owner of the iPhone 4, which costs at least $599, but doesn’t work when it comes into contact with the human hand. It will also avoid future iPhone 4 antenna related lawsuits.
As for iPhone 4 owners, they will get $15 only if they have actually heard about this settlement, as well as filled out and submitted a claim form on the settlement’s website by August 28, 2012. I bet many didn’t.
Obviously, iPhone 4 owners are the losers here. The iPhone 4 is a failed product and should have been recalled, and its buyers fully compensated. Struggling Detroit automakers recall cars all the time, and not just for safety-related issues. Why should makers of consumer electronics be any different?
By denying the iPhone 4 antenna problem, Apple clearly won financially. The market reaction to the recall of its most successful product ever could have been disastrous to the company’s stock price. Besides, it is obvious that Apple didn’t have a fix, thus the iPhone 4 should have been taken off the market entirely.
But what about ethics? I find it hard to call Apple ethical. A company which charges premium prices for its products but fails to admit that they are defective is definitely not moral.
According to Apple’s financial statements, as of June 30, 2012, it had about $140 billion in current assets (such as cash) and long-term marketable securities (such as bonds), and yet it only agreed to pay $15 for defective iPhone 4′s, which cost at least $599.
Recently, Apple was very eager to reach a favorable and “fair” outcome for itself in a patent case against Samsung. On the other hand, it had no eagerness to fairly compensate customers in the iPhone 4 settlement.
Remember that Apple Macintosh 1984 Super Bowl ad? Well, in that spirit I have to say: 1984 might not have been like Nineteen Eighty-Four, thanks to Apple, but 2012 definitely looks like it . . . thanks to Apple.
After being granted a Default Judgment in a lawsuit against Apple, I wanted to educate others about how to achieve the same result. Unfortunately, Apple can’t be sued for the iPhone 4 antenna issue again because of the iPhone 4 Products Liability settlement. Thus, I cannot help anyone willing to sue Apple for selling them an iPhone 4 with a defective antenna. What I can do, though, is to educate you about Small Claims in general and provide you with some tools to be used in other cases.
You can use Small Claims Courts in instances of:
- Landlord/tenant disputes;
- Insurance claims disputes;
- Car repair disputes;
- Property damage;
- Unpaid loans;
- Disputes with banks or credit card companies;
- Disputes with cable or cell companies;
And these are just to name a few.
Contrary to popular belief, Small Claims Court procedures are really quite easy. Anyone, regardless of lack of education or training in law, should be able to represent himself or herself in a Small Claims case.
Small Claims Courts are usually divisions of Justice Courts. They are designed to resolve disputes quickly and inexpensively. Parties can choose to represent themselves and not use the services of attorneys. In the Justice Courts of most states Small Claims can be e-filed, making the process quick and easy. Depending on the state, the claim amount may be up to $10,000. The filing fees also vary by state. They usually range from $40 to $200, depending upon the amount of the claim. Filing fees qualify as court costs, and may be added to the judgment. An individual can sue other individual(s) or business(es). A business can sue other business(es) or individual(s).
I want to share with you, step-by-step, how I successfully represented myself in the case against Apple. You could use my experience, as well as other self-help information I provide about court rules, procedures, and practices, to help you represent yourself in Small Claims Court, no matter what the reason for your lawsuit and who the defendant might be.
The whole process of suing Apple lasted about three months (it could’ve been much less if I hadn’t had to re-file some documents due to small errors) and was really easy. Every single document (except one) was e-filed. I have not visited the court once. In total, I’ve spent about 20 hours researching Small Claims procedures, and preparing and filing documents for my case. Knowing what I know now, if I had to do it again, I could probably do everything in few hours. I believe you could do the same if you used my experience.
If you would like to read more about my case against Apple and see:
- which court forms I used;
- how I filled out the court forms;
- how I filed the court forms;
- information about court rules, procedures, and practices;
- other helpful information;
please click the link below to purchase and instantly download the step-by-step guide to how I prepared my case and successfully sued Apple. The price of the file is only $19.99.
A tremendous sense of empowerment comes from the ability to defend oneself in court!
Disclaimer: I’m not an attorney and cannot provide you with legal advice, opinion, explanation or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, options, defenses, or strategies. I can, however, provide you information about my case against Apple. I do not claim that purchasing this file will guarantee your success in court. No guarantee of success is made or implied. I sued Apple in Las Vegas Justice Court. Rules and procedures in other states and cities could be different.
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My name is Laimonas “Laimis” Gubista. I’m currently pursuing graduate degrees in Business Administration (MBA) and Hotel/Casino Administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). For all inquiries related to my Apple lawsuit or Small Claims help, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell me if your iPhone 4 suffers from “Death Grip”!