iPhone Upgrade Program Members Sue Apple, Claim They Couldn’t Get New Phones

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As you might expect for the heavily hyped device, pre-orders of the new Apple iPhone 7 were snatched up quickly. However, members of Apple’s own iPhone Upgrade Program — which promised an easy trade-in process each year — claim there were unfairly shut out from ordering the new device.

The class-action lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in California, claims that Apple gave higher priority to new customers’ iPhone 7 pre-orders over orders placed by members of the Upgrade Program.

According to the lawsuit [PDF], Apple allowed the non-Upgrade customers to snap up the limited inventory of the new devices while telling members of the Upgrade Program to “check back later.”

This, the customers say, was in direct contrast to the program they had signed up for.

Under the iPhone Upgrade Program, which was introduced last year, customers can make monthly payments on phones and then, each year, upgrade their device to the newest model.

For example, a customer who was interested in purchasing a 64 GB iPhone 6s Plus could pay $40.75/month to receive the phone and AppleCare+ warranty service.

As long as that customer waited at least six months and had made at least 12 payments, they could trade in their old iPhone and receive a new one at a similar monthly fee.

The lawsuit notes that customers taking part in the program pay an extra fee to Apple — making the phones more expensive than paying outright — in order to have access to the newest devices on a yearly basis.

According to the plaintiffs, Upgrade members were told by Apple that they would be able to pre-order the iPhone 7 starting at midnight Pacific Time Sept. 9.

“Because Apple typically releases new iPhones in September each year, Apple’s message was simple: make 12 monthly payments on the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus and then, next September, use the Upgrade Program to immediately upgrade to the newest iPhone technology.”

But this didn’t happen, the suit alleges, and program members have been left to make payments on their old phones, and their eligibility to get a new phone immediately upon release in 2017 or future years will be limited by the program terms unless they make additional payments.

While customers are eligible for a new phone after six months they still must make 12 payments on their current phone. That means if a customer receives an iPhone 7 in March 2017, they would be eligible for the newest version of the device in September 2017, but would have had to make double payments on the old device.

The suit seeks an injunction and damages for iPhone Upgrade Program members, as well as an order requiring Apple to make its full inventory of phones available to iPhone Upgrade Program members.

[via Recode]