Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is being sued over a persistent bug in its iMessage service that prevents former iPhone users who have switched to an Android-based smartphone from being able to receive texts sent from other iPhones, reports Bloomberg. The problem has existed since Apple first introduced the iMessage service in 2011 as part of iOS 5 and the company has long been aware of the problem, according to the lawsuit documents provided by VentureBeat.
Apple’s iMessage service allows users to send text messages via data or Wi-Fi instead of using the more expensive carrier network route. However, many users who switched from Apple’s iPhone to an Android-based device and retained their old phone numbers have discovered that the iMessage service is capturing texts that are intended for their new devices. Additionally, the senders of the texts are unaware that the messages are not being delivered since iMessage records them as received.
Documents filed by the plaintiff referenced the experience of Lifehacker’s Adam Pash, who wrote about his experience trying to resolve this issue with Apple’s customer support on his blog. As noted by Pash, none of Apple’s attempts to fix the problem worked and some of the recommended solutions involved impractical workarounds such as having all of his associates with iPhones delete and re-add him as a contact. According to the filed documents, the plaintiff had a similar experience with Apple’s customer support and noted that even deleting and re-adding contacts still did not resolve the problem. Finally, according to Pash, the Apple customer support employee told him that, “This is a problem a lot of people are facing,” “The engineering team is working on it but is apparently clueless as to how to fix it,” and that “There are no reliable solutions right now.”
The plaintiff accuses Apple of “tortious interference with a contract” by “having its iMessage and Message service and application act to prevent certain text messages sent to Plaintiff and the class members from being delivered to Plaintiff and the class members on their non-Apple devices.” The plaintiff also accuses Apple of violations of California’s Consumer Remedies Act for not disclosing that the service had this problem when it sold the iPhone.
Finally, the plaintiff accuses Apple of violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law, since “Apple users are likely to be disincentivized from switching from Apple to an Apple competitor.” The lawsuit noted that the publicity surrounding the glitch has made it even more likely that people will not switch to a non-Apple device due to this ongoing problem.
The lawsuit was filed by Adrienne Moore in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Based on the number of people that have been affected by the same problem, the plaintiff is seeking class action status. Although the lawsuit did not specify a damages amount, the plaintiff is asking for “Restitution in such amount to be determined by the Court,” as well as the cost of the suit and attorneys’ fees. The plaintiff would also like an injunction that would force Apple to fix the problem and inform the public about the issue until it is resolved.
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