Resellers, Consumers File Suit Against Apple

A class action lawsuit accuses Apple of holding back product, stealing customer information, and other actions that hurt the channel.

A group of Apple resellers in conjunction with consumers have filed a 26-page class action lawsuit against the company accusing it of unlawful business practices, breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets and other practices illegal under consumer law.

The suit was filed in San Francisco Superior Court last Thursday by two former Apple resellers, one of whom, Joe Weingarten, is the head of the Apple Resellers Association, which represents some 70 resellers across the United States. Also taking part in the action are three named Mac users.

According to an interview with Weingarten on the The Mac Observer, a Mac Web site, part of the reason for the suit is Apples deteriorating relationship with some of its dealers.

"Apple is pushing dealers to the point of where theyre going out of business because of their actions," Weingarten claimed.

One of the accusations made against Apple is that it unfairly held back product from the channel while stocking the shelves of its own Apple stores.

The company is also accused of using discriminatory pricing to undercut dealers, selling products below cost in order to get customers away from independent stores.

Another key claim is that Apple stole customer information from dealers, approaching these customers in order to sell direct to them.

In addition to the dealer-related charges, the company is also accused in the suit of reselling refurbished equipment to dealers as new, selling product to nonqualified education and government customers at a discount, and lying to consumers in an attempt to cover up its own culpability.

/zimages/2/28571.gifApple is also being sued by a French consumer organization over its use of DRM in music downloads. Click here to read more.

The case is part of a string of complaints from dealers over their relationship with Apple. Last week, two independent dealers in California shut their doors, blaming Apple directly for the closures.

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