Photo: M. Woodruff/Business Insider
When I held my brand new iPhone 5 in an AT&T store back in December, I knew it was love at first sight. Then I forgot my charger at home for the first time.
The three perfectly good iPhone 4 chargers I had stashed in my desk were completely useless, and I went home with a dead phone for the first time ever.
The honeymoon phase was over.
Like the iPhone addict that I am, I knew I needed at least four backups in order to have a guaranteed source of power wherever I went.
I couldn’t stomach dropping another $80 on chargers so soon after blowing $300 on a new phone, which is why I was thrilled to see an incredible Cost Brothers/Via Google Offers deal in January.
For $17 + $5 shipping, I got what looked like a pair of iPhone 5 Earpods, a 10-ft Lightning cable, a car charger and a wall charger (valued at $106 dollars).
I was only interested in the Earpods and charger (I don’t drive and my old wall chargers work just fine with the iPhone 5), but since both are worth $20 – $30 a piece, I figured it was still a good deal. I went for it.
And I was deeply disappointed.
When the package finally arrived a few weeks later, I immediately tried out the headphones. They looked almost identical to the real thing.
But it didn’t take long to realise these were no Earpods. Everything I listen to sounds as if I’m at one end of a tin can and the music is on the other end of the world. Other people I know who purchased the same deal were similarly disappointed.
After the earbuds, I took a closer look at the wall charger. According to the label, it’s made by a generic brand called “Happy China.” The same plug sells for a measly $1.52 on Amazon.com. There are no manufacturers labelled on the other items in the bundle, so I couldn’t check.
Maybe all of the items in this kit would be valued at $106 if they were manufactured by Apple, but as far as I can tell, these are exactly the kind of generic knockoffs tech experts predicted would flood the market soon after the new phone was released. I’ve had $5 earbuds from Big Lots that sound better than what Cost Brothers is selling.
Earlier today, I called up Cost Brothers as a regular customer with a complaint. A representative answered after the third ring, was perfectly polite and even offered to send a replacement pair of earbuds to me straight away.
But when I called again later and asked to speak with a press representative, they were less than helpful. The person I spoke with (someone named Oscar) told me they “never said the accessories were from Apple” and promptly hung up on me.
The problem, however, isn’t that the product isn’t Apple-made. It’s that they say it’s valued at $106 when it’s safe to say it’s not. I reached out to a press rep for Google Offers, which is still running the same deal through April, and am waiting to hear back.
The takeaway: If you’re looking for low-cost Apple accessories, just know what you’re getting yourself into. Most of those amazing deals are simply knockoffs. I did get an extra charger out of the deal, and it works fine as far as I can tell, but I can’t help but feel like I paid $22 for five items and got only one that’s of any use. I might as well have shelled out the $30 for a new charger from an actual Apple store and saved on shipping.