Earlier this week Gizmodo Australia exclusively reported Officeworks removed Apple’s AirTags from sale due to safety concerns surrounding the button battery. We can now also confirm they’re now disappearing from other Australian retailers as well.
It all started with Officeworks
While Officeworks wouldn’t confirm the exact reason for the removal, a Reddit post earlier in the week suggested it was due to button battery.
Button batteries have become a big topic in Australia over the past few years. This is due to the death of three children from swallowing button batteries since 2013.
Product Safety Australia estimates that 20 Australian children a week are taken to emergency departments due to swallowing button batteries.
In December the government introduced the world’s first mandatory safety information standards for products that contain button batteries.
This requires these products to have safety compartments to house these batteries, safety testing and child-protective packaging.
In addition to this there needs to be warnings attached to the products.
There is currently an 18-month transition period for companies to comply with these standards, which come into effect on July 22, 2022.
The ACCC also launched a safety campaign on the dangers of button batteries back in November.
“The Apple Air Tag range will temporarily be unavailable for purchase from Officeworks,” an Officeworks representative said to Gizmodo Australia on Tuesday.
The ACCC confirmed this with Gizmodo later in the day.
“The ACCC is aware of reports raising concerns about the accessibility of button batteries in the Apple AirTag product,” an ACCC spokesperson said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
According to Apple, the AirTags are safe for purchase in accordance with Australian law.
“AirTag is designed to meet international child safety standards, including those in Australia, by requiring a two step push-and-turn mechanism to access the user-replaceable battery,” an Apple representative said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
Other Australian retailers have now removed the AirTags
On Wednesday morning the AirTags were still available to purchase online from JB Hi-Fi and Big W. However, after being contacted by Gizmodo Australia these items went out of stock within a matter of hours.
Earlier in the day, JB Hi-Fi had a warning label attached to the AirTags landing page.
“This product contains a coin/button cell battery. See product description below for important safety detail,” the warning read.
Later in the day the page updated to state: “Due to very high demand, this product is currently unavailable for online purchase.”
It’s Gizmodo Australia’s understanding that staff at JB Hi-Fi stores have been told to pull the AirTags from sale effective immediately. However, the reason has not been specified.
A manager at one store told Gizmodo Australia that they have not been instructed exactly as to why, but that it was due to a safety reason and that JB Hi-Fi is currently working it out with Apple.
Staff at other stores were similarly unsure, saying there was just something wrong with them or that they might be a choking hazard
Meanwhile, JB H-Fi’s own website says they are out of stock due to “very high demand.”
JB Hi-Fi is yet to respond to Gizmodo Australia’s multiple requests for comment.
Telstra also ceased selling the AirTags sometime since Gizmodo Australia reached out for comment on Wednesday. We are yet to here back.
Big W told Gizmodo Australia exclusively that it is not currently selling the AirTags.
“BIG W does not currently range Apple AirTags. We will be working with our partners at Apple to review any potential issues before offering them as part of our range to customers,” a Big W representative said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
At the time this comment was made a link to a four-pack of AirTags was live on the Big W website. Big W has now confirmed with Gizmodo Australia that this was an error that has been rectified and that the company had not received AirTag stock yet.
In a phone call with Gizmodo Australia a Big W representative said that AirTags were an upcoming product, which have now been placed on pause pending the outcome of any investigation into their safety.
It’s currently unclear exactly why more retailers have removed the AirTags from sale. The mixed communication between retailers and Gizmodo Australia, as well as store employees, indicates that perhaps everyone is simply trying work out what to do at this stage.
When questioned as to whether the ACCC was behind this action it said: “We have no further comment at this stage.”
The mass removal of AirTags could be a precaution, rather than a directive. As Apple has said, the AirTags are compliant with Australian law, but that doesn’t negate concerns or potential customer complaints regarding the use of button batteries.
It wouldn’t be surprising if AirTags disappear from most Aussie shelves and retail websites until the ACCC gives it a tick of approval. That being said, it’s our understanding that Apple will continue to sell the AirTags in Australia.
It’s also Gizmodo Australia’s understanding that Apple is planning to update the AirTag’s packaging and warnings in Australia to comply with this new Information Standard ahead of the 2022 deadline.
At the time of writing AirTags are still available to purchase online from Harvey Norman, Dick Smith and Apple directly in Australia.