Apple Tried to Silence Exploding iPod Victim with Gagging Order

I think we just found out why we aren’t hearing more stories of exploding and burning iPods. Ken Stanborough had to throw his daughter Ellie’s iPod Touch outside, because it got too hot to hold, and he could see vapour. Within 30 seconds, he could see smoke, he heard a pop, and the Touch went 10ft into the air. After contacting Apple, the company denied liability, but offered a refund. However, Apple said that in accepting the money, Stanborough was not allowed to talk about the existence of the agreement – or else Apple would sue him. Update: Apple told Sky News Online that the letter with the gagging order is standard practice.

Stanborough contacted Apple in order to get a refund, and while the company did offer a refund in a letter, the company also stated that by accepting the money, Stanborough was to “agree that you will keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential”, and that any breach of confidentiality “may result in Apple seeking injunctive relief, damages and legal costs against the defaulting persons or parties”.

Ellie Stanborough and her exploded iPod.
11-year-old Ellie and her exploded iPod. Image courtesy of The Times

Needless to say, Stanborough was appaled. “I thought it was a very disturbing letter,” he said, “They’re putting a life sentence on myself, my daughter and Ellie’s mum, not to say anything to anyone. If we inadvertently did say anything, no matter what, they would take litigation against us. I thought that was absolutely appalling.”

“We didn’t ask for compensation, we just asked for our money back,” he added. Stanborough has not accepted the money, and didn’t sign the letter. An Apple spokesperson said that since Apple had not seen the iPod in question, they could not comment. The Trading Standards Institute could not comment on whether letters like this are standard in the industry, but that they could understand Apple wanting to take steps to protect its reputation.

Threatening your customers (and victims of your faulty product, no less) with litigation. Sounds like a good business strategy to me!

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