In Brazil it might be quite hard to buy an iPhone in the run-up to Christmas. This is due to the fact that state authorities have started to confiscate the devices directly in the shops. Behind this is a dispute over consumer protection. Apple hasn’t delivered its iPhones with a charger in the box for some time now. The company justifies this by saying that most people already have the charger. They claim that users already has one device or another that uses the same charger. Thus, there is no need to put a charger in the box. Apple claims that this reduces the amount of e-waste. Apple believes that by removing the “unnecessary” charger, it is protecting the environment. However, while Apple is “protecting the environment”, it is also making a lot of money.
In Brazil, selling a phone without a charger is illegal. The law says that devices must be sold in a useable condition. If you sell a phone without a means to charge it, then you are selling it in an unstable condition. This means that it is against the law. Apple has therefore already been fined and the Brazilian Ministry of Justice. The government has since said that selling iPhones without a charger is illegal.
Judges vs. State
As a result, officials have turned up at various official Apple retail partners and confiscated the iPhones that were on sale in stores, 9to5mac reports. More stores in the capital, Brasilia were hit. This should increase the pressure on Apple.
However, the legal opinion of the authorities is not undisputed. Because Apple sees itself as being wrongly accused of violating the law. The case is in court at the moment. Judge Diego Câmara Alves who is in charge of the case says Apple can continue selling the iPhone until it reaches a final decision. The judge says that regulators would abuse their powers by taking action against Apple. Well, this is what is happening at the moment. The reculators are already taking action, against the judge warnings.
Samsung & Apple are now threatened
Like Apple, Samsung also removed the charger from some of its phones. This is causing huge trouble with consumer protection groups for the two brands. At the moment, selling the devices in Brazil is a big deal. As reported by TelecomPaper, a large number of consumer protection groups in Brazil are currently preparing legal action against the Samsung and Apple. This is because neither Samsung nor Apple include power adapters in their products.
A total of 900 branches of the Brazilian consumer protection organization are currently planning to open proceedings against Samsung and Apple. This is coming from the secretariat responsible for consumer protection at the Brazilian Ministry of Justice.
Previous penalties on Samsung & Apple
However, the action taken by consumer protection groups in Brazil does not mean that the two major brands will be fined. Instead, they are first given the chance to explain what they are doing. They also have the chance to offer affected customers compensation or other remedial measures. These will happen before the ban if any.
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Both Samsung and Apple have already had to pay penalties for not including the included power adapters. Both companies in the Fortaleza region in Brazil had to pay the equivalent of five million euros in fines. This is because the authorities there took it as proven that they were harming the interests of buyers.
The iPhone 12 series is the first iPhone that does not come with a charger in the box. The Samsung Galaxy S21 is also the first on Samsung’s end. We now that the iPhone 12, 13 and 14 series all without a charger. Both brands gives the same reason for removing the charger from the box. In fact, Samsung only followed Apple’s lead.
Apple should pay iPhone buyers
The decision to sell iPhones without an included power adapter has cost Apple quite dearly in one case. A court saw this as an illegal practice. According to a report by Insider magazine, a Brazilian court ruled that Apple should pay a customer the equivalent of almost a thousand euros. As part of a consumer protection lawsuit, the buyer had complained that his iPhone did not come with a power supply unit. He claims that it can not use it and Apple sold an unuseable device to him. This is actually against the law in Brazil.
The court also had the same point of view and accused Apple of violating consumer protection regulations. In Brazil, these prohibit a practice in which products are designed in such a way that users ultimately feel compelled to buy additional products from the company. In this case, the plaintiff also had to purchase a power supply unit from Apple in order to be able to use his phone.
Normally one would assume that in such a case the buyer will at best get compensation for extra expenses. It is not entirely clear why the court in Brazil awarded the plaintiff almost a thousand euros. It would be acceptable here that there was additional compensation. Perharps, he court added extra expenses for the lawsuit including the lawyer fee.
Apple justified the omission of the power adapter in the normal iPhone sales package with the fact that most users already have such a device. However, this reason seem not to be enough, at least in Brazil. Apple will have no choice but to make some changes in Brazil.