Yesterday the Consumer Protection Board in New York called on Apple to make it easier and less expensive for users to replace the iPhone's battery once it's comes to the end of its life.
Here are the highlights from the press release [emphasis added]:
- The Apple Corp. should revamp its customer service policies to make it easier and less expensive for consumers to repair an iPhone, the New York State Consumer Protection Board said today.
- ... consumers should not have to pay a $79 fee to replace the battery in an iPhone.
- One solution, she [CPB Chairperson and Executive Director Mindy A. Bockstein] said, would be a redesign to allow a consumer to replace the battery instead of sending it away for a new power supply.
- The CPB is also objecting to the $29 fee that is charged for a temporary replacement phone, as well as the 14-day trial period offered by Apple.
- Apple should also drop the 10 percent restocking fee charged when someone returns an iPhone.
- "Finally we ask that Apple review its practices in disclosing contract terms and conditions, warranties and return policies," said Chairperson Bockstein. In Apple stores and online, these disclosures should be more prominent and conspicuously displayed.
- "A high-end cell phone shouldn't have to have low-end customer service," said Chairperson Bockstein.
There are some pretty valid points made there by the CPB, but I'm just a little surprised that the criticisms over a battery that isn't user-replaceable is being aimed solely at the iPhone and not the other myriad devices in use that fall into the same category - such as music players, PDAs, GPS receivers, Bluetooth headsets, as well as countless other similar devices. If the CPB wants to take exception to such devices, it needs to take a broader look at the market.
But on the other hand, it's not as though Apple didn't get plenty of prior warning that an internal battery wasn't such a good idea - I and many other commentators at the time the information was released felt that this battery issue could be a thorn in the side of the iPhone, and while it's certainly not a deal-breaker (iPod owners are already more than familiar and happy with internal batteries), it could represent a problem for Apple down the line. Having an iPod go down because of a dodgy battery is one thing, having your cellphone, especially if it's used for business, is quite another.
I know that Apple doesn't like having too many buttons, catches and latches on devices, and I know that having the battery fitted internally means that a larger battery could be crammed into the device, but I really do think that Apple's going to have to bite the bullet and get used to the fact that a cellphone needs to have a user-replaceable battery, especially if it's to gain traction in the business/professional market segments.