The Glostrup District Court on Friday ruled that Apple violated the Danish Sale of Goods Act by giving a Danish consumer a ‘remanufactured’ phone instead of the brand new one he felt he deserved.
Marketing manager David Lysgaard and the American computer giant Apple have been engaged in a five-year fight over a faulty iPhone 4 that the Dane bought in 2011 for 4,399 kroner via Apple's website.
Lysgaard said the phone stopped working properly after a year. When he complained, Apple agreed to replace it but instead of giving Lysgaard a brand-new phone from the factory, it delivered a ‘remanufactured' phone that the company said was as good as new.
Although he conceded in an October interview with TV2 that the second phone worked just fine, Lysgaard wasn't satisfied that his new phone was replaced by one made of used parts so he took his case to the consumer complaints' board, Forbrugerklagenævnet.
The board determined that Lysgaard, under the the Danish Sale of Goods Act, was entitled to a brand new model or his money back. Apple contested that decision and decided to try the case in the courts.
On Friday, the Glostrup District Court sided with Lysgaard in what is expected to be a decision of principle importance.
“After a comprehensive review, the court finds that David Lysgaard […] had a warranted expectation of receiving a brand-new product equivalent to the original purchase,” the court said. “The remanufactured phone that David Lysgaard was given could contain reused modules so the phone cannot qualify as brand-new.”
Apple’s representatives argued that it is significantly better for the environment to reuse parts from defective or damaged models to refurbish iPhones and iPads. The company also insisted that the phone Lysgaard received was as good as new.
Before the decision, Lysgaard told TV2 that he was nervous about taking on a company that made $231 billion in 2015 alone, which would make Apple the equivalent of the world’s 42nd richest country.
“One shakes a bit when you receive a summons from one of the world's biggest companies. That's not something you experience every day,” Lysgaard told TV2. “But the more Apple stepped up, the more stubborn I became.”
Vagn Jelsøe from the Danish consumer rights group Forbrugerrådet Tænk speculated before the court decision that Apple must see Lysgaard's complaint as a case of principle importance.
“We must assume that there are a whole lot of these cases otherwise Apple wouldn't pursue this one,” Jelsøe told TV2.
Lysgaard said the case is not a personal vendetta against Apple, whose products he’s continued to purchase.
“It's about large companies needing to follow the laws that we have. It's also about how many other regular people in Denmark have been through something similar but have just ended up accepting that things are just as Apple says they are,” he told TV2 in October.