Like many powerful Big Tech companies, Apple has a history of taking advantage of its users and employees when they see an opportunity. Here is a rundown of Apple class actions.
Batterygate - In 2020, Apple agreed to pay $500 million to settle consumer fraud lawsuits that more than 30 states had brought, alleging the company secretly made older iPhones slow down. Apple tripped over itself repeatedly in its response. At first, Apple suggested that the problem didn't exist, then it was only a few phones, and then the company said it only slowed down iPhone batteries to preserve battery life after hearing of reports that the older phones were suddenly shutting off.
Of course, consumers saw they had little choice other than to buy a newer iPhone to deal with the battery problem resulting in an enormous boost in iPhone sales and profits for the company. The settlement required that Apple pay consumers at least $25 per iPhone. However, many consumers didn't believe that was sufficient, considering the cheapest iPhone still costs several hundred dollars.
Even so, the state attorneys general led by Arizona that filed the lawsuit felt they sent a strong message to Apple and other companies that fraudulently manipulate their consumers.
Storage capacity iOS8 - In California, a class action is pending a federal judge's ruling where plaintiffs are asking for class certification. The plaintiffs allege that Apple scammed them about the personal storage capacity of older iPhones and iPads. When the consumers installed the iOS 8 update to their devices, they no longer had 16 GB of personal storage as the product advertised.
The lawsuit's basis is that consumers would not have paid a higher price for the devices if they understood the update would rob them of their promised personal storage capacity.
Jelly scrolling defect - A class action was filed on February 9, 2022, for a defect in the iPad Mini 6 termed “jelly scrolling.” The plaintiff alleges that the defect causes text and images to bend, warp, and blur, rendering the device useless. Even worse, some users experience motion sickness, vomiting, migraines, and nausea due to the defect, yet Apple continues to sell the product.
Apple refuses to fix the problem or alter its marketing materials to address the defect. The plaintiff is suing on behalf of anyone in the U.S. that's purchased the product and accuses Apple of fraud and unjust enrichment.
Applecare warranty settlement - In 2021, Apple agreed to pay $95 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged the company replaced the plaintiff's broken devices with lower quality ones under the AppleCare Warranty. The plaintiffs accused Apple of not honoring its AppleCare Warranty when their broken iPhones and iPads were replaced by subpar remanufactured devices.
The settlement will benefit those who purchased an AppleCare Warranty and were given remanufactured devices after July 20, 2012.
Apple software updates damage iPhone models - A consumer filed a class action in 2021 alleging Apple software updates iOS 14.5, 14.5.1, and 14.6 caused damage to iPhone models 11, 12, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max. The plaintiff says that Apple encourages users to update to the latest software when it becomes available to keep devices secure. However, he experienced slower performance and inferior battery life once he updated his device.
The lawsuit alleges that Apple knew what the update would do to older devices, and it was part of a scheme to force consumers to buy newer and increasingly costly devices. The plaintiff intends to represent a nationwide Class of consumers who experienced degraded performance after downloading the updates and accuses Apple of violating federal fraud laws and California consumer protection laws.
Apple job title changes - Complaints against Apple's policy of demoting former employees' job titles to the level of "associate" have been filed at the federal level. Cher Scarlett was a security software engineer at Apple and brought the complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Labor Relations Board after a job offer was rescinded when her resume conflicted with Apple's job verification database.
The implication is that an employee's job title is heavily related to their level of work, and Apple's policy has devastating consequences for former employees' future job prospects. The company verified they do, in fact, have the policy but offered no explanation as to why or what purpose it serves. A former employee suggests the policy is in place because it "forces us to stay in Apple's good graces."
Apple app developer antitrust - iOS app developers who had applications or in-app purchases sold on the Apple App Store between 2015 and 2021 and earned less than $1 million per year qualify for a $100 million antitrust class action settlement. Apple was accused of violating antitrust laws by maintaining a monopoly on distribution services. App developers were hit with pricing restrictions and commission fees that couldn't be sustained in a competitive market. These tactics limited what developers could upload to the App Store. Furthermore, this strategy weakened fair competition and unlawfully cut into developers' earnings.
Apple wouldn't concede to any wrongdoing but agreed to pay the settlement, which could range from a $250 to $30,000 payout to eligible members of the Class. Members of the Class must have proof of purchase like a Team ID for the associated developer accounts and submit a claim by May 20, 2022.
Apple employee bag check - California non-exempt employees who worked at an Apple retail store between July 25, 2009, and December 26, 2015, are eligible to receive back pay for time spent having their personal bags checked after their shift. Apple required employees to be subjected to a bag search but didn't pay employees for their time while the bag search was being performed, violating California labor law.
Apple won't admit to wrongdoing but agreed to pay $29.9 million to settle the claim. Class Members should expect between $800 and $1,286.96 for their unpaid time, depending on the number of shifts worked during the time frame stated above. Class Members do not have to fill out a claim form. Payment will automatically be distributed once the settlement is formally approved.
Powerbeats2 battery life - Apple's Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earbuds are supposed to have up to 9 hours of listening time, but users are experiencing something quite different. The plaintiff behind the class action says the product has battery life and charging issues, inconsistent with the claims made on the earbud's packaging and marketing materials.
The plaintiff complains that he would not have paid for a more expensive product if the issues had been known. Because of the deception, Apple sells more of the product but at the expense of the consumer. He is looking to represent anyone in New York who has purchased the product, plus a class of buyers in Georgia, Michigan, Montana, Rhode Island, North Dakota, Virginia, South Dakota, and Oklahoma. In 2020, Apple agreed to pay $9.75 million to resolve the case.
Illegal content seizure - Apple has been accused of locking users out of content and apps that have already been purchased at the App Store if the user's payment method is rejected when purchasing a new product. The plaintiff, Christopher Babeu, says that more than $10,000 worth of purchased products were unlawfully frozen when he used a payment method his bank chose to decline. Since then, Apple has refused to return any of the seized digital content.
The plaintiff wants to represent a Massachusetts class of consumers that had their digital content seized under the same circumstances. He's suing based on a breach of contract, unjust enrichment of the company, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.