Last week I uploaded a video in regards to the Apple “Replacement Device Lawsuit” which was a class action suit brought against Apple over AppleCare replacements that concluded with a $95 million settlement. The lawsuit alleged that Apple provided replacement devices for warranty swaps that were either refurbished or contained used parts. Most impacted customers received about $14 per incident. The lawyers received over $27 million!
In the original video I noted that many customers found that their checks were made out to the wrong name, while others never received notification that they were part of the class.
This week I have a followup that includes comment from attorney Michella Crass from Hagens Berman, from the law firm representing the plaintiffs. Cras provided additional information and offered an alternative means of getting checks corrected via email:
Kras says the court approved email as the primary method of notifying class members. Despite sending multiple email reminders, many digital payments went unclaimed (likely because emails didn’t get delivered), and the deadline for claiming cash payments was extended to February 26, 2023.
After failing to reach people digitally, the parties agreed to send checks to 1.6 million class members for whom they had physical mailing addresses. Kras acknowledges that a portion of those checks had misspelled or incorrect names. To rectify this, affected customers can email AppleCare@hbsslaw.com with the necessary information, and a new check will be issued. But it has to be done by May 30, 2023.
But how could somebody who did not get notified and whose name was incorrectly recorded be in the class? Crass says that if an individual received a replacement device with non-new parts during the class period, they are considered part of the class. Members of the class are entitled to the settlement amount only and can no longer sue Apple over a similar issue – even if they were never notified as being part of it.
And what if funds go unclaimed? Kras says unclaimed funds may either be redistributed to class members who claimed their funds or donated to a charitable organization, but will not return to Apple or the law firm.
I question the effectiveness of class-action lawsuits like this, as a customer suing Apple individually over this issue in small claims court would likely recoup the entire cost of the phone if Apple is found in the wrong – not a measly $14.
And while it could be argued that class action lawsuits are an effective way of regulating corporate behavior that’s not the case here. Apple merely updated their terms of service to allow the use of previously used parts for AppleCare replacements rolling forward.
My suggestion is that if you’re notified as being a member of a class action lawsuit be sure to exercise your right to opt-out of the litigation. You’ll retain your right to sue and be able to get a much larger settlement in the end.