Whenever we buy something new there’s always a little bit of paranoia about it. What if your new car gets totalled on the way home from the lot? What if one of those new earrings falls down your bathroom drain? What if you sit on your new glasses? What if your new MacBook and iPod are stolen out of your car before you even get home with them?
Unfortunately, those sorts of things do happen. In the fall of 2009 Michael Deverett, a lawyer in Toronto, bought a MacBook Pro. As part of a promotion that Apple was running at the time, he also got a free iPod Touch. All told he bought over $2,200 worth of hardware and software that day. On the way home he made an ill-fated stop at a convenience store. His brief absence from his vehicle was just enough time for someone to knock a hole in his back window and make off with his new gear.
Deverett was understandably upset. It’s a long, hard fall from the excitement that comes with a new purchase to the anger and disappointment that comes with having something you value stolen. Even more frustrating was the realization that at some point after his MacBook was stolen, the thief (or whoever the thief sold it to) took it in for service at an Apple Store. Deverett’s response to all this, though, was a bit… unique. He sued.
Deverett argued that since thieves in the U.S. had been targeting Apple Store customers in much the same way that he was apparently targeted in Canada, Apple had a responsibility to warn customers that their purchases may be in danger. Apple’s failure to warn Deverett that his purchases might be stolen made them liable for the loss, he argued.
Apple responded that their responsibility for the merchandise ended once Deverett left the store with it, and that they have neither the duty nor the ability to foresee all possible risks to a customer once they leave with their purchases. Nevertheless, Apple and Deverett have settled the suit. Apple has agreed to give Deverett $2,300 in store credit and $345 in legal fees.
What do you think? Do retailers – especially retailers of popular and expensive products – have any responsibility for their products once the customer leaves the store? Sound off in the comments.