Siri, How Do I Sue You?
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com
As it turns out, when you’ve got the kind of cash Apple does, people will sue you for whatever they can for a piece of that sweet, sweet pie. Take, for example, the case of Frank M. Faizo vs Apple Incorporated.
Mr. Faizo purchased his iPhone 4S in November and, according to the legal papers, “Promptly…realized Siri was not performing as advertised.”
“For instance, when (Faizo) asked Siri for directions to a certain place or to locate a store, Siri either didn’t understand what (Faizo) was asking, or, after a very long time, responded with the wrong answer.”
Faizo filed the class action suit in March on behalf of “All Others Similarly Situated,” though this story is starting to make its rounds on the ‘net again.
According to Southern Methodist University law professor Meghan Ryan, the suit has some flaws.
“One of the major problems is that there isn’t a whole lot of detail,” Ryan told CBSDFW.com.
“It’s hard to tell, based on the complaint, what Siri actually said. Was she close? Did she understand his speech? What was really the problem?”
The suit also claims Siri didn’t work as well as advertised in the commercials.
Interestingly, Mr. Faizo isn’t suing McDonalds for portraying their burgers to be larger than they are, Gatorade for advertising their sports drinks will imbue him with all sorts of athletic prowess, or Verizon for advertising their 4G network is created by skydivers yielding glowing balls of pure speed.
There are other problems with this suit, as well.
First, Apple has not been shy about calling Siri what she is, a beta product. It’s displayed right there, an orange tab right across the top of her webpage. Anyone who buys any new product — especially one which easily costs more than $200 — should have at least a cursory knowledge of the product. However, as Mr. Faizo bought the iPhone at Best Buy, it’s understandable the salespeople there didn’t lead off with “Here’s Siri. She’s a saucy one, but remember, she’s still in Beta.”
So, to be fair, we’ll allow him that one. There is, however, the other issue of Apple’s return policy. Apple products not only come with 1-year warranties, Apple also allows returns within the first 30 days. As Apple pointed out when the suit first made news, “Tellingly, although Plaintiffs claim they became dissatisfied with Siri’s performance “soon after” purchasing their iPhones, they made no attempt to avail themselves of Apple’s 30-day return policy or one-year warranty—which remains in effect.”
The same argument applied when some people began making noise about the iPhone 4’s antenna. If, within 30 days, you realize you aren’t going to be getting along with your phone, take it back. That’s your right. Mr. Faizo, as best I can tell either (a) Didn’t want to give up his iPhone so easily or (b) Felt he could keep his iPhone AND earn an undisclosed amount of money if he filed a suit.
The suit also wrongly implies that Siri is all that separates the iPhone 4S from the older iPhone 4. Of course, we all know that the 4S features an incredible camera and a faster processor. Perhaps these 2 features were enough to keep him from returning the phone the day he realized that Siri misunderstood him?
In addition to claiming Apple’s ads are “detrimental” to their customers, misleading them to think that Siri is capable of doing everything as advertised, the suit also claims those poor, poor souls who are ignorant enough to be duped by Apple’s pomp and flash will also be screwed over once more when their bill comes, calling Siri a fat data hog. ArsTechnica did a study on this last year and found that, at most, Siri users could end up adding an extra 27.7 MB to their monthly plan if they use Siri upwards of 15 times a day off of Wi-Fi.
While not an insignificant number, it isn’t likely this will be the experience of many users. Besides, what’s the definition of insanity, again? If you know Siri doesn’t work — as Mr. Faizo claims — then why would you use it so often as to notice a dent in your data plan? A sane person who realizes Siri doesn’t work for them would return the phone and move on. A sane person who enjoyed all the other benefits of the iPhone and didn’t want to throw the Siri out with the bathwater would simply not use the service 15 times a day to incur massive data overages.
I’ve mentioned before that Siri doesn’t always work well for me. In fact, she misunderstands me more than she should, and I often wonder why a company like Apple would allow such a faulty feature to exist, even if it is “beta.” Therefore, my excitement for iOS 6 and an improved Siri.
And whenever I see a new Siri commercial, I try asking her what’s depicted in the ads, as I’m sure many others do. Siri didn’t pull up a fancy card describing how to tie a tie, but she did do a web search wherein I found what I was looking for. She did, however, tell me a joke when I mumbled the monosyllabic utterance to her, and listed off several restaurants which listed both “soup” and “delivery” in their descriptions.
Everyone who has ever spoken with Siri knows she’s flawed. It’s what makes her so charming. It’s understandable to want her to be useful, but hey, what are you going to do?
Suing a company because their beta product has flaws seems a little cheap to me, especially if the “plaintiff” didn’t allow the company to make it right by taking them up on their 30-day return policy.
In my opinion, the judge should start the legal proceedings with one question: “Do you still have the iPhone?”
If Mr. Faizo answers yes, then the case should be thrown out immediately, saving everyone involved—and the tax payers— enough money to buy their own iPhones.
Then again, I’m no lawyer. Maybe Siri can point me to one.