26.03.21

Stop Planned Obsolescence - the Apple Case

For almost a year now, Euroconsumers and its member organisations have mobilized to ask Apple to be accountable for the planned obsolescence of their iPhones. When consumers buy Apple iPhones, they expect sustainable quality products. Unfortunately, that is not what happened with the iPhone 6 series. Not only were consumers defrauded, and did they have to face frustration and financial harm, from an environmental point of view it is also utterly irresponsible.

Cross-action

An unfair commercial practice, used by Apple all over the world

May 29, in Italy, the Administrative Court of Lazio confirmed the penalty of 10 million euros, imposed on October 24, 2019 by the Italian Antitrust Authority against Apple for unfair and aggressive commercial practices in relation to updating the IOS operating system. Apple, despite being aware of the damage that the update could have produced on the iPhones 6 series, deliberately failed to inform consumers who, on the contrary, were pushed to proceed with the update. This lack of information and loyalty from Apple forced consumers to replace a product that they otherwise would not have replaced, voluntarily creating a loss of performance.  The same behavior was the focus of a class action in the United States where the preliminary proposed settlement calls for Apple to pay consumers $ 25 for each iPhone, with a minimum total payout of $ 310 million. Just like in Europe, American consumers contended that their phones performance deteriorated after Apple software updates. They said this misled them into believing their phones were near the end of their lifecycles, requiring replacements or new batteries. It is unequivocal that Apple has implemented a conduct, worldwide, aiming at increasing the replacement of old iPhones through a phenomenon that can be traced back to the so-called “planned obsolescence”. This conduct has caused tremendous damages, harming consumers and the environment.

As representatives of 1.5 million consumers worldwide, Euroconsumers and its four  European member organisations decided to take the lead in this case by filing  class action lawsuits in Belgium, Spain, Italy and Portugal, asking Apple to pay a compensation of at least €60 on average to all affectedIphone 6 owners. Just like American consumers, European consumers want to be treated with fairness and respect. With these class actions Euroconsumers is sending a clear message to Apple: planned obsolescence can no longer be tolerated.

Planned obsolescence affects consumers and the environment

Planned obsolescence represents not only a deliberate unfair practice towards consumers, but is also environmentally irresponsible. Consumers are increasingly frustrated by products wearing out way too fast, the iPhone 6 models being a very concrete example of that. They want Apple to treat them with respect and demand concrete actions to rectify the situation and guarantee more sustainable phones. 

Indeed, sustainability is also at stake in this case since this unfair practice represents huge risks for the environment, increasing the number of electronic waste which is among the most polluting. Our guiding principle “Approved by Tomorrow” relies on the idea that consumers are best positioned to guide markets towards the green transition. It is no secret nowadays that smartphones’ production as well as the way they are disposed represent a threat for the environment and contribute to climate change. Preventing useless and anticipated phone replacement for consumers is, as consumers’ organisations, one of our top priorities. We want to act to stop illegal planned obsolescence and so to guarantee the sustainable ideal we, and the consumers, share. 

If you want to support our fight against planned obsolescence or join the class action in your country:

Italy: Join Altroconsumo here

Spain: Join OCU here. 

Portugal: Join Deco Proteste here

Belgium: Join Test Achat here

Watch and share the video of our campaign here.