Apple is being sued by a California woman who claims that when she bought a Samsung Galaxy S5, Apple’s iMessage system for iPhones stopped delivering text messages to her. The plaintiff, Adrienne Moore, is hoping a federal court will grant her claim class action status.
Apple tells Business Insider it does not intend to comment on the suit.
But since we first reported the news, we’ve received dozens of emails from former iPhone users who switched to Android or BlackBerry devices and were infuriated to find that Apple’s iPhone was holding their messages hostage by not delivering them. One woman says she lost hundreds of dollars in sales commissions. A Verizon sales rep says he also lost sales commissions after angry customers bought new Samsung phones and then returned them for iPhones when they couldn’t get texts from friends who use Apple devices. Several people say they nearly lost relationships with spouses, friends, or loved ones who thought they were ignoring their texts.
One woman says her daughter’s winter break from college was ruined after she received a free Android Moto X iPhone as a gift for being in the audience of the Jimmy Fallon show.
The lawsuit cites Business Insider’s coverage of the issue to help make its claims. Download a PDF of the suit here. BI had no knowledge this suit was being prepared or any other connection to this suit. However, at least one other lawyer unconnected to the California case has contacted us to say they are also preparing to file litigation against Apple on this issue.
iMessage handles texts differently from other phones
Apple previously pointed us to this customer support page which instructs users how to turn off iMessage so that other iPhones don’t continue to try to deliver messages to your disused iMessage address. The technical issue here is that iMessage is not the same as a regular mobile phone text. It’s a separate, different system. Texts get “stuck” briefly or permanently inside iMessage when they’re directed to someone who has switched their number to an Android phone because they’re trying to find your old, inactive iMessage address.
Some of the former Apple customers who contacted us say that even turning off iMessage before switching to an Android doesn’t work — they believe that you must delete your phone number from iCloud, which uses iMessage across all Apple devices.
Others of a more conspiratorial bent believe that some people inside Apple are secretly enjoying the flaw in iMessage because it punishes people for leaving the iOS mobile device ecosystem. There is, of course, no evidence that the alleged flaw inside iMessage is deliberate. Rather, the opposite is the case: An Apple customer service rep recently told Lifehacker blogger Adam Pash that “The engineering team is working on it but is apparently clueless as to how to fix it,” according to Pash.
In the meantime, ex-iPhone users who have switched to Android are emailing Business Insider with their stories faster than we can reply to them. Here is an edited selection of their stories:
“I lose about $US500 per sale”
Katie Becke: “How do I join the suit? Because this crap is costing me money – I am in car sales. Texting is half of my communication for work and if I don’t promptly reply I lose about $US500 per sale.”
“This cost me misunderstandings with my wife”
Alexis de Belloy: “This cost me misunderstandings with my wife, (she wondered why I wasn’t responding to her txt and I pondered why she was ignoring me…), our au-pair (I rushed home one day from work needlessly because she had not responded to my txt asking her to confirm that she could pick up the kids. She had, but it did not get to me), friends who were trying to reach me and could not.”
A gift from Jimmy Fallon ruins winter break
Evy Haroldson: “My daughter and her boyfriend went to the Jimmy Fallon show in mid-December of 2013. Much to their delight it was the week when Jimmy gives gifts to the entire audience, and they both won new designable Moto X phones.
As soon as the phone arrived, we contacted our carrier (AT&T) and switched her device. Then the trouble started. She was home for winter break, during her freshman year of college, and couldn’t wait to see her high school friends. She replied to texts about getting together, and never heard back. The first night she thought perhaps her friends were busy with family responsibilities, but when I noticed she wasn’t replying to my texts we realised her texts were not going thru, and friends with iPhones couldn’t contact her (without realising the text hadn’t sent via iMessage and taking the step to resend as text).
… iMessage was holding our phones hostage.”
Victoria Hale: “I switched to Galaxy S4 in January from iPhone 4. Still to this day I cannot receive text messages from any friends using iPhone as they go as iMessages. I had phone calls from friends all through January asking why I’m ignoring their texts. It’s absolutely disgusting. Like a penalty for ‘daring’ to leave Apple.”
Verizon salesman: “I couldn’t believe how Apple had gotten this customer right where they wanted them”
Jonathan Eells: “I work in a Verizon retail store and recently switched from an iphone to a Samsung note 3. I recently had to deal with this issue multiple times and informed many of my customers who were switching that they would not receive messages. I am glad someone has finally done something and brought attention to this problem. The way I see this Apple cannot get away with this sort of thing it is ridiculous. I know this issue has started arguments between me and my girlfriend because she was upset and thought I was ignoring her and she was already not to happy that I was no longer using an Iphone. I also missed multiple texts from friends and family. I had a customer return a brand new s4 after experiencing this problem. I explained how to go about getting it fixed but they said ‘I can’t not get messages as much as I don’t like my iPhone and love the s4 I need to get all my messages.’ I couldn’t believe how Apple had gotten this customer right where they wanted them. I was also upset because I had now lost out on any money I made in the sale and couldn’t believe the audacity of apple. This is no way to treat customers and is very unconscionable. … I know a few customers were very unhappy about this and trying to contact apple to get your number unregistered from the servers is like pulling teeth.
… I’ve heard from every Apple fanboy that this is a genius move. It certainly has made me glad I switched and ruined any chance of me going back.”
“I was forced to return the GS5 and revert to my iPhone”
Justin Frazier: “I previously had an iPhone 5 and purchased a Galaxy S5 a few days after the release. I was wary of previous complaints about the issue so I made sure to turn off iMessage and log out of all my Apple accounts before making the switch. After switching I talked with a bunch of friends with iPhones who would try and message me. They told me one day it would go through as a text and the next it would send as iMessage, which of course I couldn’t receive. … I kept my phone for 10 days to see if the extra time would solve the issue, to no avail. I was forced to return the GS5 and revert to my iPhone. I feel this is something the Apple developers could fix in a heartbeat, but are in no rush as it benefits the company.”
Steven Hemingway: “I joked at the time that it must be Apple’s way of withholding your messages and tricking you into thinking something is wrong with your phone so that you switch back. But after reading that everyone is having problems, I’m not so sure it’s a joke.”
“All of my friends have iPhones and I was not able to communicate with any of them”
Matt Rober: “I chose to hop onto the Android bandwagon and was thrilled to be unshackled from the grips of Apple until I tried texting my friends. All of my friends have iPhones and I was not able to communicate with any of them. I had to resort to communicating with them via the Facebook messenger app. They all told me that they had received my texts but I had not received any of theirs. I thought my phone was a lemon until I started doing some research.
This really cemented my stance on hating Apple. Today, I am able to receive some text messages on the occasion from some numbers, but some numbers I’m not able to communicate with whatsoever. … most of my coworkers will own iPhones. What I heard is that changing your number solves the issue so I will have to give that a go, I’m sure it will work … though it’s a nuisance.”
“The only solution they offered me was to change my phone number”
Katherine Dee: “I almost lost a friend over this issue. I switched from an iPhone 4s to Samsung Galaxy S4 in February of this year. I found over the first few days that I wasn’t receiving any texts from anyone with an iphone. I researched on the internet about the problem and found (surprise!) that others had the exact problem. I made sure I was logged out of Apple everywhere, turned off iMessage on my old, non-working phone and my iPad, but still no dice. I called Apple to make sure they removed me from their database, and they told me that it was a known problem, and that they COULD NOT REMOVE me from the database. The only solution they offered me was to change my phone number. … After about a month, I found that I was getting texts, but that was after at least one friend thought I had BLOCKED her messages.”
“I was forced to change my phone number … It has affected my professional and personal life”
James Maiorana: “I recently switched to Samsung Galaxy a few weeks ago and had the same issue. Apple was no help and went as far as to tell me that I had to tell everybody in my contacts list that has an iPhone to change settings on their phone to contact me, which I responded by telling them that was near impossible and insane at the same time. Apple assured me that my contact info and number had been removed from their system and that the issue would resolve itself. It clearly did not, and I suspected foul play the entire time. As time went on I was forced to change my phone number to fix the problem, which was not only a pain for me, but also for the hundreds of contacts that now need to learn and program my new phone number. It has affected my professional and personal life.”
Yang Wang: “My experience is that the problem eventually fixes itself (for each individual sending a text, not fixed universally) after a few weeks if the person sending the imessages tries to send “enough” of them. They start showing up as failed to deliver at which point you can switch to resend as sms. Very annoying, and seems like the problem may be deliberate.”
“My wife would no longer receive text messages”
Doug Anderson: “… it explains why my wife would no longer receive text messages from certain people after she switched to Android.”
Andrew Murray: “Whenever you log into iCloud, whether it’s from a Mac, iPhone or iPad, it automatically sets up what ID’s you can receive iMessages at. If ANY device has your phone number listed, then all messages sent to you from within the Apple ecosystem will remain there. For example, when my wife would send me a message from her iPhone, it would never reach the BlackBerry because it would arrive on my Mac, via iMessage, because my number was still registered there. That’s controlled at the device level. Wherever you’ve allowed iCloud to setup with your phone number and not expressly disallowed it, your phone number becomes a part of the Apple ecosystem. This has also happened with a couple of friends of mine that switched to Android. The solution for everyone was simple, if a little inconvenient. They had to go around to all of their Apple devices and uncheck their phone number in the iMessage or iCloud settings, as a ‘receive messages at’ address. After that, it takes 12-48 hours for Apple to purge the number from their servers. After that everyone sending them messages from within Apple automatically switched to texts.
There were some exceptions to this. Our babysitter turns off iMessage from time to time because she has a very small data plan. She unchecks her phone number on her iPad and everything switches to test… most of the time. Sometimes the senders, like me, have to delete the message and start a new conversation. But in those cases, iMessage shows the message as undelivered and I know what I have to do.”
Jaime Chis: “Few my friends have stated that the messages I send from iMessage (to Android phone) don’t go through, and at times they don’t get it at all. Half my friends have switched to Samsung Galaxy when they came out. I also have the same problems with emails, when sending out to friends, they read it from the Samsung phone or the iPhone.”
And now the good news … “It is an easy fix!”
Bekka Day: “I had this problem when I switched. However it is an easy fix! All you have to do is go to the apple website, sign in, and actually delete your phone number from your apple account. Once the phone number is deleted it is no longer registered under an apple product, there shouldn’t be any more issues. I haven’t had anymore issues anyways. You said in the article that the person signed out of their apple account. They have to actually delete the number.”
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