Apple Just Lost A Fight In New Zealand Against One Guy

Adam Crouchley loves Apple. He had an iPhone 4 and recently upgraded to an iPhone 5 and freely admits that he's deep into the ecosystem. You might remember a little while ago, Adam and Apple had a bit of a falling out. No, this isn't a biblical story involving a snake and a girl, instead it's the story of how one New Zealand man took the world's largest company to task and won.

Earlier on in the year, Adam placed several orders via Apple's online store. He placed these orders after noticing what he thought was just a snap special on the store: iPhone 4 accessories that were normally over $NZ100 had been marked down to less than $NZ1 in some cases. Naturally, Adam jumped at it, but not before calling Apple Australia to confirm the absurd discounts.

He was told not once, but twice that the mark-downs he was looking at were the correct prices, so naturally he placed the orders while giving himself a pat on the back for being a savvy consumer. He placed seven orders and received an email confirmation for each one, but Adam would never receive any of the gear he wanted.

Days later as the first item was beginning to ship, Adam got a troubling notification. His orders had been cancelled by Apple and the courier carrying the first bit of gadget-goodness was physically stopped and turned around to keep it out of Adam's hands.

Adam went to order the gadgets again through the online store, but found that they had been marked back up to their original prices.

Adam wasn't going to stand for it, and took the proof he had from Apple to the New Zealand small claims consumer tribunal and demanded he be paid the full cost of the items he had ordered from Apple in compensation.

Last Thursday, Adam walked into a small hearing room in New Zealand to defend his consumer claims case against the biggest company in the world. A company that had just landed a $US1 billion settlement from Samsung. It was the consumer equivalent of David and Goliath battle.

Adam pled his case before the tribunal but Apple refused to budge, saying it was only prepared to refund the cost of the first purchase Adam had made, seeing as how that was the only cost that Adam had incurred on his credit card so far. The other six orders had been cancelled.

In a shock decision that afternoon, the court awarded the case to Adam, saying that the order confirmation notifications along with the phone calls he had made demonstrated that he should have received those items at the discounted price.

Apple now has 7 days to pay Adam the full balance of his order as if he had paid for it at full cost. Needless to say he can't disclose the amount, but Adam has assured us that it's a lot more money than what he had spent on the items to start with.

Merry Christmas, Adam, and let this be a lesson to all of you that big corporates shouldn't be pushing you around.



    We must understand apple can only influence American courts.

    Apple actually turned up to small claims court in NZ...

    Good on them,..

      The only way to win and avoid precedents is to defend it.
      And usually in cases like this it's going to depend on a few things :
      - the cost of fighting it - is it cheaper to engage the iLawyers or settle?
      - any media attention it has, or may gain
      - the cost of setting bad precedents by not attending
      - is the law on your side?

    How is that a 'shock decision'? That is what i'd call an obvious decision...

      Well the guy got hundreds back for spending mere dollars.

      Let's say he paid $7 for 7 iPhone accessories that were originally worth $100 each. He was out of pocket $1 because Apple only charged him for the first item, then cancelled the rest. He went to court, and now Apple has to pay him $700, a $699 profit.

      It kind of sounds like Adam is the jerk here. Instead of just wanting his money back ($1), he wanted to pretend he'd actually paid full price for the 7 items and get lots of money back.

      Of course I could be reading this wrong(?) but that's how it sounds to me.

        I don't see how Adam comes off as a jerk, apple made the mistake and Adam even called Apple to make sure the prices were correct. " Adam jumped at it, but not before calling Apple Australia to confirm the absurd discounts.
        He was told not once, but twice that the mark-downs he was looking at were the correct prices,"
        Apple were in the wrong for not sending Adam his items and just correcting the error they had made on there website

        All he wanted was the products he paid for, and double checked. Apple replace phones all the time, why not honour this agreement?

        Actually they advertised the price and confirmed it he should have gotten the goods for that price... maybe asking for 7 is a bit steep and they should have corrected the mistake and given him at least 1 for that price and the rest at the normal price. They didn't the order was processed he paid them he entered into a formal contract with exchange of money. Apple did not have leg to stand on... In Australia at any rate - and I assume NZ consumer laws are similar... as we both based on Westminster Law.

    Seem sensible. They really should have just shipped the damn order.

      Given Apple's large profit margins, it would have been a hell of a lot cheaper than paying the full retail price, plus fees for a lawyer / staffer to attend the hearing...

      Not to mention better PR: "Oh, hey, those prices were mistaken, but our reps told you they were good, so we're going to honour what our representatives told you and ship you the gear for those prices. Lucky you!"

    Why would a company of apples size not just honor it in the first place, surely its not worth the risk of him posting it somewhere. Plus he was told by there staff that its the right price not once but twice.. I think Apple should have been hit with a fine (small) for wasting the courts time.

    Heard about this ages ago. Good to know he got what was due to him in the end.

    So he got the full cost back on something he spent a few dollars on?
    What a stupid decision by the court. You should either get the items you paid for or the money back. Not make a profit on something you shouldn't be entitled to, that just makes no sense.

    I would have been all for Adam winning if it weren't for that. Now it just sounds like he just wanted to make a profit. Courts shouldn't be a business.

      A contract had formed between him and Apple whereby Apple agreed to provide the goods at the discounted price. The main remedies open to the court are to require Apple to: 1) deliver the goods; or 2) pay the guy their value in cash which is necessarily the standard retail price. The fact that he called up to confirm the discounted price goes towards establishing that a contract was validly formed and is enforceable against Apple notwithstanding the error on the website.

        But the "contract" formed would be at the lowered price that he paid. It makes sense to me that he'd in no way be entitled to the full price because the full price was never in question. He bought the products because they were cheap and he most likely wouldn't have purchased the same volume if they were full price. I just can't see how he'd then be entitled to a refund at full value.

          He's entitled to full price because that's the amount of money he would have to spend on the date of the settlement to procure the items from Apple himself, as apple would not just deliver him the items at the price he paid when he ordered.

      He is now able to purchase the items he wanted from Apple at their full cost. He could have also fought to be provided the goods, however I believe this way is the correct manner to do it as it will make these US companies, and the US government for that matter stop doing illegal things in New Zealand and one hopes Australia.


    Last edited 21/12/12 3:07 pm

    I wouldn't side with him if he was simply trying to exploit a mistake, but if Apple did genuinely confirm they were real prices before he accepted... well, it's on their heads then.

      Exactly. If he'd just seen the prices and gone "ZOMG" and ordered a large amount of items, I would not be behind him at all. But having called to confirm twice, I have no problem with this.

      A couple of weeks ago when the story was originally run, he did confirm that apple themselves confirmed the price on at least I THINK it was two phonecalls? He had proof of this too I believe. Im the same, had he not had the proof and confirmation, I would've not supported him, but with the OK of apple, then they turn around and cancel it? That's a big no no.

        Plus I didn't take advantage of the situation. I could of, but i didn't. I was not buying for resale, I was buying stuff that I actually wanted and will use. Cheers

          Exactly, so there was nothing dodgy here. You got screwed by Apple and inturn showed them they can't mess people over and flaunt the law. Well done, you should be proud of yourself :)

    Well a confirmation email is as good as a contract. Apple shouldn't have been so arrogant and just settled out of court, giving this guy what he had ordered. Would have cost them a lot less than a friggen lawyer.

    Most court decisions between apple and someone else always ends up in Apple's favour in American courts. Of course in courts outside United States, Apple must learn to obey other country's laws. Maybe Apple think everyone is bounded by American law. In America, this would have been dismissed by a magistrate there because Apple could not possibly have made any mistakes, they are perfect. No mistakes ever, They did not become the richest company in the whole wide world making mistakes all the way. That's how the courts would view the case in America.

      And their terms anywhere in the world try to get other countries to follow USA law and settle disputes in a USA court. They slipped up here because they also talk about New Zealand consumer guarantees act in their terms, making it easily heard in NZ courts. Cheers.

    Yeah I got screen shots as well of their online chat guy telling me that their prices listed are correct. Since then they have removed the online chat function from their website.

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