SAN JOSE (CN) – The voice-activated Siri assistant on the Apple iPhone 4S doesn’t work as advertised, and is just a ploy to lure customers to buy a more expensive iPhone, a man claims in a federal class action.
Frank Fazio sued Apple on behalf of consumers who bought the iPhone 4S because commercials made the voice-activated “Siri” feature seem easy to use for a variety of tasks.
“Defendants’ advertisements regarding the Siri feature are fundamentally false and misleading,” the complaint states. “Notwithstanding Apple’s extensive multimillion-dollar advertising campaign showcasing the Siri feature, and the fact that the iPhone 4S is more expensive than the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4S’s Siri function does not perform as advertised, rendering the iPhone 4S merely a more expensive version of iPhone 4.
“Defendant’s misrepresentations concerning the Siri feature of the 1Phone 4S are misleading, false, and reasonably likes to deceive and have deceived plaintiff and members of the putative class.”
Fazio claims that Apple’s aggressive advertising for the iPhone 4S has paid off: about 33 million of the roughly 37 millions iPhones sold during the most recent business quarter were iPhone 4Ss, according to the complaint.
The price of an iPhone 4 starts at $99 while the iPhone 4S starts at $199, Fazio says, citing the Apple website. He calls the price difference unfair because it enables Apple to reap a huge profit though the features that supposedly justify the 4S’s extra $100 price tag do not actually work.
Fazio, who lives in New York state, says he bought an iPhone 4S in November 2011 because the ads for it made it seem a better deal than the iPhone 4.
He claims he “would not have paid the price he paid for the iPhone 4S, had had he not seen these representations.”
Fazio says Apple embarked on a “deceptive marketing campaign” in October 2011 with a press release calling the Siri feature is an “intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.”
Fazio says the press release, cited in the complaint, claims that Siri understands spoken questions and commands, such as asking about weather conditions or telling it to remind the user of important appointments.
In all the ads, Fazio says, Siri quickly gives the users a relevant answer. Other ads imply that it is capable of informing users when new tasks they want it to do conflicts with past commands or reminders.
Fazio, citing statistics from Apple’s own financial blog, claims that 36 percent of iPhone users switched from different companies to Apple during a 10-year period after seeing ads depicting Siri as a revolutionary feature.
Fazio says he bought an iPhone 4S because of the Siri feature, but had problems with the phone immediately after buying it.
“When plaintiff asked Siri for directions to a certain place, or to locate a store, Siri either did not understand what plaintiff was asking, or, after a very long wait time, responded with the wrong answer,” the complaint states.
He claims that “recent reports have shown that continuous Siri usage dramatically increases an iPhone 4S user’s monthly data usage, and can easily push users over their data plans.”
He adds: “Defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the iPhone 4S’s shortcomings prior to its distribution. Indeed, buried in Apple’s website is the amorphous sentence: ‘Siri is currently in beta and we’ll continue to improve it over time.'”
Fazio claims Apple exploited the fact that consumers such as he trusted Apple’s ads depicting Siri as reliable and worth paying the extra money to have.
“Defendant’s representations were made with the knowledge of the falsity of such statements, or in reckless disregard of the truth thereof. If plaintiff and class had been aware of these suppressed facts, plaintiff and class would not have purchased the iPhone 4S at the price sold by defendant,” the complaint states.
Fazio seeks restitution, statutory and compensatory damages for intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, breach of warranty, unfair competition and violations of California consumer law.
His lead counsel is eHis lead cou
Shawn Williams with Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd.