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Legal Advice Re: Apple Dispute

Posted on 2011-02-17
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Last Modified: 2013-11-17
I have recently become involved in a dispute with Apple Computer’s. Following Apple’s failure to respond to a ‘Letter before claim’, I'm posting all this to try and get advice and suggestions from any experts out there that might have some insight! These are the details:

•      On the 27/11/2010 my IPhone 4 was stolen in Belfast city Centre
•      On the 28/11/2010 I contacted my mobile provider and had the SIM card and handset blocked. In the UK and Ireland, this renders the handset useless as all carriers within the UK/Ireland will not service a handset with a blocked IMEI number. The handset has also been reported stolen with the police.
•      On the 06/12/2010 I receive an automated feedback email from Apple inviting me to participate in a follow-up web survey regarding my recent ‘in-store repair’. Not realizing at the time what was going on, I contacted the Belfast Apple store to enquire. I was informed that someone had entered the store the previous week with my handset complaining that it was faulty. The person was given a brand new handset (apparently in line with Apple processes) and my stolen handset was retained by Apple. They confirmed the serial number and IMEI number of the handset, which matched the details on my original packaging and delivery slip.
The staff said I had received the email because the phone had still been registered to my Apple account, but that they could not return my phone or give me any details about who came into the store with my phone. They also said they could not divulge any information to the police as this was a breach of customer confidentiality.
•      On the 03/01/2011 I sent Apple a ‘Letter before claim’ informing them of the details of the case, and to let them know I would be taking the matter to court if it could not be resolved amicably. The letter was registered and I have confirmation that they received it at their headquarters in Ireland on the 07/01/2011.
•      After not hearing from Apple for 3 weeks, I got in contact with the Customer Relations Manager at the Irish headquarters. The ‘Letter Before Claim’ was addressed to him, but he said he knew nothing about it. I explained the case, he said he would investigate the matter and get back to me within 24hrs. I didn’t hear from him for a week, and began trying to contact him. This took a few days as he did not answer his phone, or respond to my voice message.
•      When I did eventually track him down, he said he has passed this on to another department who was supposed to contact me. He then said he would deal with the matter personally and get back to me within 24hrs.
•      This was on the 4th of February. I receive an email from him on the 8th apologizing, and saying he would contact me the following day.
Again I received no call, and another email on the 10th apologizing, and again stating he would phone me on the 11th.
At this stage I sent him a strongly worded letter expressing my anger at the way this was being dealt with. It is now the 15th and I have not had a call, or a response to my last email from him.

I have spent an absurd amount of time running after staff at the Apple headquarters in Ireland, being passed from one person to the next, and have now spent over £30 pounds in phone calls trying to get some answers and seem to be no closer to finding a resolution. I feel this case is straight forward, Apple are knowingly in possession of stolen goods, and at this stage have probably rebuilt the phone and sent it out for re-sale. Does this not constitute laundering of stolen goods?

So any thoughts? What would you do? Any comments/suggestions are welcomed!

Regards
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Question by:CoreSupport
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by:DaBagBoy
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I think I follow the sequence of events but don't get your point?

what are you asking or "claiming" you want or need from Apple?

Did they not cancel your cellular contract?
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by:RobMobility
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Hi,

I would have though that Apple are bound to contact the Police as a crime has been committed (your phone stolen and/or the person bringing it into store is either handling/receiving stolen goods or was the thief themself).

Failure to diclose this information to the Police surely makes the Apple employee or the store manager:

1. An accessory to the crime - receipt/handling of stolen goods?
2. Obstruction of justice?

I suggest that you contact Belfast Police (with whom you surely reported the theft) and let them know that someone has taken the phone in for a replacement - their CID (or whatever they call it) should contact the store and pursue the matter.

Apple would then have to provide the IMEI which can be blocked and the criminal tracked down.

Regards,


RobMobility.
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by:CoreSupport
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I am claiming that Apple are now knowingly in possession of my stolen phone, and should return it to me. My cellular contract is with Three mobile, who are not affiliated with Apple. They just supplied me with the phone.
Apple are the ones who gave the person who stole my phone a new one, and now have my original handset somewhere in their supply chain. They did not check that the phone was blocked, they just 'assumed' the phone was faulty.
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by:mccrick
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I, for one, hope you get your phone and a new iPad out of the deal at least. Apple's policy of facilitating theft when they have all the technology in the world to slow it down, is criminal.

My phone was stolen but , but didn't have the heart to put up a fight like the one you are describing.

Send your story to the Euro equivalents of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc. Also in the US, we have various news organizations that like to ferret out corporate indecencies. One program used to be called Action Line. Invariably these reporters would negotiate with businesses essentially threatening to publish the final outcome either making themselves (Action Line) look like heroes or making the corporate offenders look like villains.

I see it as Win/Win since ultimately we all want Apple to do well, and bad publicity is still publicity, they will get some free PR and you will undoubtedly get some customer satisfaction eventually, unlike me (in this particular case.)

I'd hate to go up against Apple legally because they can outspend me 100 to 1, but the threat may help with the media approach.
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by:mccrick
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@DaBagBoy: He wants his $600 phone back.

@RobMobility: That would be awesome to find an investigator who would force Apple to find the Perp. I hope I have a dream about that. It would be so satisfying. How about the Movie !?!?!? It could star Tom Cruise as the hard nosed pit bull detective.
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mccrick earned 20 total points
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@CoreSupport: Points are fun. Why not 500?
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by:CoreSupport
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Thanks for the reply's so far.

Its the most frustrating situation I've ever had to deal with. The cherry on the top was when the staff at the Apple store told me:

'We don't know where I customer loyalty stands with this case'   !!!

I nearly cried when I heard this, and it seemed no amount of explaining would make them understand why they where in the wrong. The guy said I could have given the phone to my cousin and then claimed it was stolen. Why would I block the phone and report it stolen you moron!!

I will keep this post updated with what happens, I will the threatening them with publicity tomorrow if I have not heard back.
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by:CoreSupport
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@mccrick I figured it wasn't really a question but a general discussion, I'm not sure how strict they are on this thing about points...
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IT, Stop Being Called Into Every Meeting

Highfive is so simple that setting up every meeting room takes just minutes and every employee will be able to start or join a call from any room with ease. Never be called into a meeting just to get it started again. This is how video conferencing should work!

 
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by:mccrick
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Start the publicity process before you threaten. That way you have some idea of what you are threatening. No point in making threats about newspapers or TV news shows that don't take interest in your story. Besides this story needs to be told anyway, even if they take care of you (just one customer out of thousands.) IMHO
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by:DaBagBoy
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Sorry for my earlier confusion, I guess I wouldn't wait to approach a consumer reporter, maybe even ask someone to call the store or Apply HQ saying "they are doing a story on stolen smartphones"
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by:Eric B
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I think there is a very big misunderstanding of the legal system here.
If you have reported the phone stolen, it is no longer your responsibility legally or otherwise. You can make a claim to your insurance company for stolen property. If a police report has been filed, they and only they are responsible to recover the property or bring the person who stole it to justice. Apple in no way has to divulge any information unless a court order is served.
You have no legal right to force Apple into anything as they did not re-purchase stolen property. They answered a request to fix a phone and they did. Its like taking a stolen car to the garage and asking for a repair. I honestly think you are wasting your time and energy :)
A registered letter has no legal bearing. Its just proof they received your request in the mailroom. A supbeaona is another thing. That is a court order to produce something in front of a judge. To do that, you need cause and a lawyer :)
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by:DaBagBoy
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"taking a stolen car to the garage"  umm that is a bit wrong as simple possession of stolen property is usually considered a crime, just try to sell something at a pawn shop if you don't believe me.

Now the garage (or in this case more accurately) car dealer has possession of a stolen car they will usually be asked to simply relinquish the car, unless of course the police have reason to believe that the dealer is merely a "fence" and is "trafficking in stolen property" in which case the charges will become much more severe, but somehow I don't think that anyone will try to make that case against Apple.

In fact they may simply be awaiting a proper investigation from law enforcement before just turning over the phone  to you at this point.  
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by:Eric B
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My point was that the garage is not in possesion of stolen property because they have no way of knowing. So they can fix the car and they would not be held liable. The difference in this case is that Apple was potentially made aware that they are in possesion of stolen property. However, they cannot assume that is true until the law (police, etc) informs them. If there is a police report and it is submitted to apple by the user, then maybe.
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by:mccrick
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>> ericb "make a claim to your insurance company for stolen property."

Glad to hear you have a zero deductible on your home insurance company. My deductible is $1000. I don't think that really helps.

The obvious advantage with a car is that with the value being so much higher, law enforcement would presumably take more interest. I went to my local police station to report my iPhone missing. I was told to wait there and officer would be with me shortly. Apparently, there were no officers in that building and one had been dispatched. After sitting there for hour with no response, I left. This would have been a case where Apple did not receive the phone. The best investigators could have done was to start trying to track the phone using Apple & ATT's technology and data. Fagettaboutit.

But what I like about CoreSupport's situation is that he knows who has his phone. That might make a huge difference getting attention from media or finding an investigator who will take interest
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by:CoreSupport
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Apple have now indicated to me that they will not resolve this issue directly with me, I am now having to go down the legal route.
I'm going to continue pursuing the issue, and at the very least get Apple to acknowledge that they handled this case extremely badly.
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by:mccrick
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i see a free iphone in your future.
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