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Retiree Sues Apple For $7,500 for Wiping Honeymoon Photos From His iPhone

Retiree Sues Apple For $7,500 for Wiping Honeymoon Photos From His iPhone

“15 years worth of contacts” were also lost

For Deric White, a 68-year old resident of the Pimlico neigborhood of central London, UK, it seemed the world was his oyster.  An old age pensioner (OAP) he was enjoying the freedom of retirement and had just gotten married.  He and his bride had journeyed on a picturesque pleasure trip to the Seychelles archipelago for their honeymoon.  But when he returned home to foggy London his happiness quickly gave way to what he recounts to be a literal sob story.  

According to the The Sun — a UK newspaper — the man’s sad turn began when he “got texts saying there was a fault on his” Apple, Inc. (AAPL) iPhone 5.  It is unclear exactly what these text were as clearly Apple’s phones do not typically self-diagnose internal errors via text messages.  Perhaps it was some sort of scareware or advertising scam — or even someone playing a prank on him.  Or maybe he misunderstood some sort of network service message?

Deric White sad

Deric White’s honeymoon was ruined by a tech glitch. [Image Source: Gary Stone/The Sun]

Whatever the story behind the texts might have been the real trouble by his accounting began when he took his device for service at the local Apple Store on Regent Street.  Greeted by the Apple “Geniuses” and service workers, they reportedly took his device and began to troubleshoot it.

Apple Regent Street store

Apple Store on Regent Street in London, UK

They soon returned it to him.  He recalls they said that the problem had been “sorted”.  But then came a more troubling question.  He recounts:

It was only after staff fiddled around they asked if I’d backed my things up.

He had not.  And it turns out they had been asking that because the device had required a wipe (it’s not clear why).  He quickly and bitterly realized that all his mobile data had been lost including both his honeymoon photos and a contacts list he had been painstakingly porting for the past “15 years”.  He bemoans that his wife was literally reduced to tears:

My life was saved on that phone. I lost my favourite video of a giant tortoise biting my hand on honeymoon in the Seychelles.  My wife was in tears and I started crying when I realised what had gone.

He’s sued Apple in the UK equivalent of small claims court, asking for UK£5,000 (~US$7,525/EUR€7,115) in compensation.  He says the company’s “Genius” staff “wiped away his life.”  The case is being heard at the Central London Country Court with a hearing reportedly scheduled for today.

Central London Country Courthouse

The Country Courthouse of Central London is hearing the case. [Image Source: Glenn Copus/DailyMail UK]

Apple reportedly has filed preliminary legal paperwork denying wrongdoing.  It recounts:

The claimant has not demonstrated how he suffered any loss.

I think that claim is a bit misleading (unless his filing was poorly formed).  But it’s also not clear exactly how much fault lies with Apple in this sad mess.  First off, there’s the issue of the texts.  What were they?  And why did Apple employees respond to them by wiping his device?

Either he stumbled across some little-known peculiar Apple error checking system or maybe his device was infected by some manner of malware.  Those are the only two logical explanations to come to mind, at least.  The circumstances surrounding the wipe would certainly influence his culpability.

I can sort of sympathize because I’ve had my own device issue that nearly scuttled one of my recent Android smartphones.  My data loss wouldn’t have been severe, but I might have lost up to a month of pictures as I had been mildly negligent about backups at the time.

Overall these kinds of cases are cautionary reminders to use the cloud backup services that Google, Inc. (GOOG), Apple, and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) provide.  And it’s also smart to do regular local backups as well.  After all, cloud storage accounts can occasionally suffer compromise or other forms of data loss.


Hopefully Apple gives the man something.  Clearly it doesn’t want to be handing out seven grand to every Joe and Jane who brings in a troubled iPhone and isn’t happy with how the service goes.  But this is sort of a peculiar incident and certainly an emotional one.  For a company who has traditionally evaded tens of billions of dollars in taxes just next door in Ireland is it really so much to ask to help one old man?

Deric White tears

White and his wife were literally in tears. [Image Source: Gary Stone/The Sun]

White says he’d use the money to take a second honeymoon trip — and take new pictures.  If Apple fights him in court it will certainly look petty regardless if it’s in the right.   But if it gives him his trip perhaps it can spin this sad story of data loss into not only a cautionary tale but a spot of good publicity as well.

Source: The Sun

“We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit.” — Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng’s take on patent troll Soverain

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