Not our fault: Apple says third-party batteries to blame for exploding Beats headphones

midian182

Posts: 6,072   +50
Staff member

You might remember the story of an Australian woman back in March whose headphones exploded in her face during a flight. At the time, there was no information about the headphones, other than they were battery powered. We now know that they were a pair of Beats. And according to Australian news site news.com.au, Apple, which bought Beats for $3 billion in 2014, won’t be compensating the woman.

The Cupertino company says it isn’t to blame for the incident, and that the fault lies with the third-party batteries that were being used.

The Unnamed woman had fallen asleep listening to music during a flight from Beijing to Melbourne on February 19 this year, but was soon woken by an explosion. “As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face,” she said. After throwing them to the ground, flight attendants doused the headphones with water. The woman suffered burns to her hands and face.

Despite her injuries, the only reimbursement the victim requested from Apple was for replacement headphones and her damaged clothes. But the company has refused to accept responsibility.

"Our investigation indicated the issue was caused by a third-party battery," Apple said in a statement issued by the woman’s lawyers.

She says the Beats headset was bought in 2014 and required AAA batteries that weren’t included. It’s unknown what brand of batteries was used, but they were bought in Australia. Apple no longer manufactures AAA-powered headsets.

The woman was unhappy with Apple’s response. "The headphones don't work without batteries, yet nowhere on the headphones - or their packaging - did it specify which brand of batteries should be used," she said in a statement.

Following the incident, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) reminded passengers to carry batteries with them and not in their stowed luggage.

Permalink to story.

 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,483   +5,990
It's an interesting tactic, but if Apple is unable to prove their device did nothing to "cause" the batteries to malfunction, they can most certainly be held liable unless they specifically warned against certain types or brands of battery. The battery manufacturer will try to prove that Apple's product causes an over current to try to shed part or all of the liability but in reality, the courts will most probably hold both responsible to a certain degree. This is a consumer product, not an industrial one so the expectations of the consumer to be able to operate a product with expectations of reasonable and safe operation will trump other expectations .....
 
B

bmw95

Eheh. Seems like Apple and Samsung have a lot in common. Blaming battery makers for their own problems. Good move guys. Good move.
 
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mctommy

Posts: 350   +85
You shouldn't expect anything less than Apple or any other companies for that matter... admitting that they were at fault opens them up for more lawsuits... so unless there injured party's lawyers can prove that the mfg was at fault, they will not admit fault.
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,494   +5,868
This is a prime example as to how corporate turns their back on consumers. They are the only ones with the money and power to make change and prevent these accidents. If no one will (you know the ones that can afford it) fight to stop this, who will be the next victim?
 

wastedkill

Posts: 1,423   +347
I can totally see how the galaxy note... wait sorry no the beats headphones were totally at fault carry C4 explosives.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,413   +5,997
Ok, so Apple requires it's customers to buy batteries to power it's device and claims the batteries she had purchased were at fault. This is possible but the woman definitely has a point, if Apple does not indicate the specifications required for the batteries then anyone would assume that any old generic battery would be fine. So if Apple failed to mention this in the manual the women definitely has a case.

Regardless of all that, Apple is a big company with oodles of money. It would not hurt them to just replace the $5 pair of headphones and the clothes. That's not even a drop in the bucket compared to even the amount of money they earn on interest from cash they have saved. Instead, they choose to take damage to their brand, which likely amounts to millions in damages.

Apple needs to realize that in order to continue to be a premium brand they absolutely need top tier customer service, especially since Apple's brand is built upon being customer friendly. Ever since Job's death, Apple has been on a downward spiral.
 

m4a4

Posts: 1,987   +1,824
TechSpot Elite
Apple is basically saying that she should sue the company that made the batteries, which I'll agree with (assuming that the device didn't cause the batteries to explode). Saying Apple should've specified a preferred battery brand is a lame excuse to blame Apple. It feels like the "Warning - Hot Coffee" warnings on coffee cups that shouldn't be necessary and blatantly obvious.

I might not like/own Apple anything, but I don't see how this is technically Apple's problem (again, assuming it was 100% the battery's fault).
 
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Godel

Posts: 241   +142
Australia has a significant set of consumer protection laws overseen by the ACCC. I suspect Apple may find themselves paying the lady whether they like it or not.

The ACCC is already looking into Apple's "only we can repair our stuff" policy.
 
R

Raoul Duke

The Rotten Apple strikes again!
even if she is in the right, does she have the cash to start a lawsuit against the lawyers and $$$ of Apple?
 

Johnnyblaze1957

Posts: 58   +12
Apple is basically saying that she should sue the company that made the batteries, which I'll agree with (assuming that the device didn't cause the batteries to explode). Saying Apple should've specified a preferred battery brand is a lame excuse to blame Apple. It feels like the "Warning - Hot Coffee" warnings on coffee cups that shouldn't be necessary and blatantly obvious.

I might not like/own Apple anything, but I don't see how this is technically Apple's problem (again, assuming it was 100% the battery's fault).
Well Crapple does specify who can repair their products so I would assume they would have a preferred and safe non-exploding brand of batteries to use in their goods.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,413   +5,997
Well Crapple does specify who can repair their products so I would assume they would have a preferred and safe non-exploding brand of batteries to use in their goods.
It would be pretty bad if Apple had to certify which batteries work in their headphones and which don't. AA and AAA are standardized so if something is going so wrong that you require a special kind of those you are doing something wrong.
 

Johnnyblaze1957

Posts: 58   +12
It would be pretty bad if Apple had to certify which batteries work in their headphones and which don't. AA and AAA are standardized so if something is going so wrong that you require a special kind of those you are doing something wrong.
I agree but some batteries which are cheap tend to be made of crap stuff as well so if it was my brand and I valued it I would have a battery brand I would prefer warn people of the consequences of using cheap crap ones and that way cover your backside.
 

m4a4

Posts: 1,987   +1,824
TechSpot Elite
I agree but some batteries which are cheap tend to be made of crap stuff as well...
And that's what I mean about common sense.
...so if it was my brand and I valued it I would have a battery brand I would prefer warn people of the consequences of using cheap crap ones and that way cover your backside.
Not even Apple should have to specify something like "Don't use cheap batteries" (even though they dumb down everything as it is lol)
 
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OneSpeed

Posts: 407   +200
Eheh. Seems like Apple and Samsung have a lot in common. Blaming battery makers for their own problems. Good move guys. Good move.
Uhm, Samsung took the blame, and recalled all Note 7's. On the other hand, Apple does not stand behind their products.
 
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Evernessince

Posts: 5,413   +5,997
I agree but some batteries which are cheap tend to be made of crap stuff as well so if it was my brand and I valued it I would have a battery brand I would prefer warn people of the consequences of using cheap crap ones and that way cover your backside.
I can understand that but unfortunately people will always try to stick the cheapest batteries they can find into the device. As a manufacturer Apple has to make sure that it's device does not operate with batteries made outside specifications. In the case of cheap batteries, they don't include safety mechanisms when they fail to provide their rated voltage or provide less current than the device is asking for. When this happens they can overheat but to the extent shown in this article it would have to be very drastic. In fact it shows that Apple had zero safety measures in place to prevent such a catastrophic failure. The batteries were allowed to provide voltages or current so far from specifications that they were allowed to build enough heat to pressurize the battery compartment to the point of explosion.

Back in 2007 many high-end professional cameras were having a similar issue when too many pictures were taken in succession with the flash enabled. The batteries would overheat and melt. That's why nowadays camera manufacturers either limit it through software or have hardware like a supply voltage supervisor

"Supply Voltage Supervisors monitor the primary voltage that feeds embedded electronics circuits for low voltage conditions, thus improving system reliability. Voltage supervisors ensure a proper system power-up and power-down and work to provide an environment for a smooth and trouble-free system. For example, a voltage supervisor can be made to reset a controller if supply voltage conditions are too low for proper operation of the controller and keep it in a reset mode until the unstable supply voltage conditions resolve."

These aren't terribly expensive either and any decent pair of wireless cans should have them.

http://www.mouser.com/search/refine.aspx?Ntk=P_MarCom&Ntt=155270574
 
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