Officeworks has pulled the Apple AirTags from its shelves until further notice due to concerns regarding the accessibility of the button battery.
This article has been updated to include comment from Apple and the ACCC.
AirTags removed from Officeworks shelves and online
Word of the AirTags removal were first floating around Reddit on Monday.
One user posted in r/Australia about their experience trying to buy AirTags in a South Australian store.
“Staff at the counter could see on their system that they had some in stock, and one staff member even remembered selling them on Friday, but they couldn’t find them today,” the user wrote in a post.
They went onto say that an Officeworks representative told them that the AirTags were removed due to safety concerns, specifically regarding how easy it is for the button-cell battery to be removed by a child.
While the Redditor said that this information had not been verified, this has now been confirmed to Gizmodo Australia by the ACCC.
Additionally, AirTags accessories on the Officeworks site are currently going to dead links.
“The Apple Air Tag range will temporarily be unavailable for purchase from Officeworks,” an Officeworks representative said in an email.
“The product will not be stocked by Officeworks until further guidance is provided from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.”
Officeworks would not confirm what the issue with the AirTags is.
“Officeworks continues to work with Apple to address any safety concerns,” the representative said.
Apple’s response also indicated that the button cell is likely the issue.
“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.
“We are following the regulations closely and are working to ensure that our products will meet or exceed new standards, including those for package labelling, well ahead of the timeline required.”
The ACCC has now spoken to Gizmodo Australia and confirmed that there are concerns with the button batteries in the AirTags.
“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.
While the consumer watchdog did not get more specific about Officeworks pulling AirTags from sale, it did outline its general expectations around safety.
“If a supplier finds that a product they supply is unsafe, the ACCC expects the supplier to conduct a voluntary recall to advise consumers of the risk, address the safety issue, or remove the product from the market,” the spokesperson said.
“If a supplier becomes aware of a serious injury, illness or death caused by a product they supply, the supplier must make a mandatory injury report through the Product Safety Australia website.“
There has been no word on any actual injury being caused by an AirTag at the present time.
Button cell batteries are a big safety concern in Australia
Our own testing of the AirTags has revealed that it only takes a small twist to remove the backing of the device to reveal the battery.
This is a concern, particularly in Australia, as three children have died from swallowing these kinds of batteries since 2013.
And according to Product Safety Australia (as quoted by Choice), an estimated 20 children a week are taken to emergency departments across Australia 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 regarding the dangers of button batteries in November 2020.
Importantly, Australia has introduced a new information standard that requires warning symbols on product packaging and certain information in product instructions for button cell battery products.
It’s our understanding that Apple is planning on updating the AirTag product packaging and warnings in Australia to comply with this new Information Standard. The deadline for this isn’t until June 21, 2022.
Disclosure: the author owns shares in Apple.