Apple's 'shoddy' Beats headphones get slammed in lawsuit

Claims of sweat resistance and durability are lies, litigious customers contend


Apple pitches its Powerbeats headphones to the public with images of celebrated athletes and ad copy insisting that the devices are durable and sweat resistant.

But a handful of people who purchased Powerbeats insist their costly head clamps are defective junk, and they're suing Apple over false advertising and its alleged refusal to honor warranty commitments to repair or replace failed units.

A lawsuit [PDF] filed Tuesday in US District Court in Oakland, California, recounts the frustrations of five plaintiffs who found that Apple's Powerbeats 2 and Powerbeats 3 headphones did not perform as advertised.

The complaint seeks $5,000,000 in damages and class action certification, in order to represent thousands of similarly afflicted Beats customers who are alleged to exist.

"In widespread advertising and marketing campaigns, Apple touts that its costly Powerbeats (which retail for $199.95) are 'BUILT TO ENDURE' and are the 'BEST HEADPHONES FOR WORKING OUT'," the complaint says. "But these costly headphones are neither 'built to endure' nor 'sweat & water resistant,' and certainly do not have a battery that lasts for six or twelve hours. Instead, these shoddy headphones contain a design defect that causes the battery life to diminish and eventually stop retaining a charge."

The complaint attributes the shoddiness of Apple's Powerbeats headphones to cheap components. Citing an estimate in a recent Motley Fool article, the complaint contends that Apple's Beats Solo headphones cost $16.89 to make and retail for $199.95: a markup of more than 1,000 per cent.

That figure actually comes from a Medium post by Avery Louie, from hardware prototyping biz Bolt.

"Because Beats are cheaply constructed, despite the high price tag, they repeatedly break," the court filing says.

Not only do they break, but they have flawed batteries that tend to lose the ability to hold a charge... or so some say.

The lawsuit points to the Powerbeats 2 page on Apple's website, now archived for posterity, and cites a number of poor reviews posted there that gripe about the headphones.

"Of the 589 reviews, 379 gave the Powerbeats 2 a 1-star rating," the complaint says. "Many of those customers complain about the failure to hold a charge and battery defects."

Plaintiffs Deonn Morgan, Lydia Zepeda, Sophia Ivy, Kelly Okorocha and Jennifer Zielinski had similarly disappointing experiences with Apple's Beats headphones, the lawsuit claims.

"Apple continues to promote and market its faulty Powerbeats, and continues to profit handsomely from their sale," the complaint says. "In so doing, Apple has defrauded the public and cheated its consumers..."

During its Q3 2017 quarter, Apple reported revenue of $2.7bn in its Other Products category, which includes Beats headphones, among other things. That's up from $2.2bn a year earlier.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021