Scuff marked iPhone 5 deceptively promo as “finely crafted watch” precision?

precision you'd expect from a finely crafted watch

iPhone 5 was launched yesterday to the usual Apple products launch frenzy. But already, there have been many iPhone 5 users reported they are having scuff marks right out of the box (brand new).

First of all, I will set the stage by laying out what Apple has claimed in its online marketing and promotional material. And then I will write about one particular Canadian user’s iPhone 5 experiences and what happened to him once he found the “scuff marks” problem and reported it. (note: see set of five scuff marked iPhone 5 photos here plus also posted at end of article) And then I will talk about cases of other users reporting similar problems. At the end, while I am NOT a lawyer I will briefly draw the readers’ attention to Competition Bureau Canada’s online resource “False or Misleading Representations and Deceptive Marketing Practices Under the Competition Act” in case they find they need some help to decide if the Competition Bureau can help.

Apple’s marketing and promotional claims

It is important to note that in Apple’s marketing and promotional page (design) for iPhone 5, Apple is claiming and advertising (emphasis),

“iPhone 5 is made with a level of precision you’d expect from a finely crafted watch – not a smartphone.”

You see, potential iPhone 5 buyers are actually told NOT to expect the level of precision of a smartphone but the of a finely crafted watch! I don’t know about you, but I have yet to be told to accept scuff marks from even an inexpensive Casio watch, let alone a finely crafted watch!

Here is Apple’s marketing and promotional claim in more detail (emphasis added),

“iPhone 5 is made with a level of precision you’d expect from a finely crafted watch – not a smartphone

Never before has this degree of fit and finish been applied to a phone. Take the glass inlays on the back of iPhone 5, for instance. During manufacturing, each iPhone 5 aluminum housing is photographed by two high-powered 29MP cameras. A machine then examines the images and compares them against 725 unique inlays to find the most precise match for every single iPhone.

Look at iPhone 5 and you can’t help but notice the exquisite chamfer surrounding the display. A crystalline diamond cuts this beveled edge. It’s what gives iPhone 5 its distinctive lines. Fitting for a phone so brilliant.”

A Canadian iPhone 5 owner’s experiences

A Canadian friend got his iPhone 5 yesterday as he switched to another carrier. Unfortunately, his brand new unused iPhone 5 has scuff marks right out of the box. (see below linked 5 photos)

As he puts it, “this is the first time i have quality issue with an Apple product“. He said, “Though not too noticeable at certain angles, this is already enough to turn customers away.” Remember again, Apple has told us to expect “finely crafted watch – not a smartphone“!

So he took it back to Apple store and the replacement also has scuff marks right out of the box! To me, there must be enough quality problems the two brand new iPhone 5 at two separate locations have scuff marks problems right out of the box. And then what comes may be worst than the workmanship quality problems because it is about service quality.

Here is more of what he wrote (with emphasis added)

… the replacement also has scuff marks out of the box. I was obviously not satisfied, but the genius said i can only pick one of the them and not going to open another box. The manager said the same, only with a bigger smile. Their excuse was that this is cosmetic defect and is not covered by warranty. I said this is all bull. Cosmetic is part of quality and the only reason this is happening is all because of inadequate quality control and assurance.

Then they said coz i bought the phone from Bell not at Apple store, otherwise they would open another box. This is another quality issue. Service quality. They just let customers walk out dissatisfied.

39% polled iPhone 5 users report “Scuffed out of the box”

In an unscientific online poll on the popular site, at press time, there are 294 (39.15%) out of 751 voted reporting “Scuffed out of the box“. (screen capture & source link at top of page)

Readers should know that Apple has been known for producing highly refined products close to perfection in previous generations of iPhones. And for iPhone 5, the “level of precision you’d expect from a finely crafted watch – not a smartphone” claim is right out of Apple’s promotion/advertising. So this high a percentage (even in an unscientific poll) may cause concerns especially seen together with my friend’s personal experience of given TWO defective iPhone 5 in two separate locations, presumably from two independent batches (although I have no way of knowing).

False or Misleading Representations and Deceptive Marketing Practices Under the Competition Act

I am NOT a lawyer and don’t even play one on TV. But I once wanted to buy a book which had two prices listed and I expected to pay the lower price but was told I was mistaken. After some quick research and a quick reading of the Competition Act, I discovered the power of the Act. You see, double ticketing is rather serious offence,

“Any person who contravenes section 54, is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment up to one year on summary conviction.”

Anyway, my knowledge lead me to I believe the rightful outcome of me paying the lower price.

For iPhone 5 Canadian buyers experiencing the “Scuffed out of the box” problem and Apple is unwilling to do the right thing. I suppose it is worth reading the Government of Canada page “False or Misleading Representations and Deceptive Marketing Practices Under the Competition Act” to see what kind of protection you may or may not have. And I suppose you can call the Competition Bureau for help too if you feel you need help and your problems are not satisfactorily resolved.

Here is an excerpt of the “False or Misleading Representations” page with emphasis added.

“The Competition Act contains provisions addressing false or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices in promoting the supply or use of a product or any business interest. All representations, in any form whatever, that are false or misleading in a material respect are subject to the Act. If a representation could influence a consumer to buy or use the product or service advertised, it is material. To determine whether a representation is false or misleading, the courts consider the “general impression” it conveys, as well as its literal meaning.

The Act provides two adjudicative regimes to address false or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices.

Under the criminal regime, the general provision prohibits all materially false or misleading representations made knowingly or recklessly. Other provisions specifically forbid deceptive telemarketing, deceptive notices of winning a prize, double ticketing, and schemes of pyramid selling. The multi-level marketing provisions prohibit certain types of representations relating to compensation.

Under the civil regime, the general provision prohibits all materially false or misleading representations. Other provisions specifically prohibit performance representations that are not based on adequate and proper tests, misleading warranties and guarantees, false or misleading ordinary selling price representations, untrue, misleading or unauthorized use of tests and testimonials, bait and switch selling, and the sale of a product above its advertised price. The promotional contest provisions prohibit contests that do not disclose required information.

False or misleading representations and deceptive marketing practices can have serious economic consequences, especially when directed toward large audiences or when they take place over a long period of time. They can affect both business competitors who are engaging in honest promotional efforts, and consumers.

For iPhone 5 users, I hope their problems are resolved promptly by Apple. Even if the Competition Act applies and they (or at least Canadians) can get help from the Competition Bureau, it can still be a time consuming process.

Photos of scuff marks (note: photos can be zoomed in to see more details)

(photo credit for these five pix: Desmond W.)

pix1 Notice the silverish mark

pix2 Another view of pix 1

pix3 There’s a similar but smaller mark at the bottom left side of the phone

pix4 This is the top right side of the phone. It’s not too clear from this pic but there’s scuff mark over the area where the two parts of the side panel join together.

pix5 This is showing the bottom right side of the phone. This doesn’t have scuff marks.

Note: This article is cross-posted by me at


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: