Ask LH: Can I Get A Refund Because My Device Won’t Run iOS 7?

Ask LH: Can I Get A Refund Because My Device Won’t Run iOS 7?

Dear Lifehacker, With the release of iOS 7, I have noticed that the 4th-generation iPod Touch is not supported for this upgrade. This was only discontinued in May this year, and I am quite disappointed that support for such a recent device has been stopped. Under Australian consumer law, am I able to return the device based on the expectation that it would be supported for a longer period of time? Thanks, Touch Annoyed

Picture: Getty Images

Dear TA,

Our golden rule when it comes to refunds (and service) is that it never hurts to ask. However, in this case we suspect that you’re not going to get very far, unfortunately. It’s annoying that the fourth-generation iPod touch won’t be able to be upgraded (my own main iOS device is one of these), but it doesn’t really constitute grounds for a refund.

The problem is that you would be asking for money back for a device that still performs all the tasks it was capable of performing when you purchased it. It isn’t defective; it just can’t do new things. Unless you have specifically signed up for a service that includes contracted regular updates, it’s going to be hard to argue that you would not have purchased it knowing that — especially if you didn’t explicitly state that to a salesperson at the time of purchase.

As well, you’re seeking a refund based on the notion that a device first released in September 2010 (and which has itself been succeeded by a new model) should still be receiving regular software updates in September 2013. In the world of mobile operating systems, three years is a very long time.

As well, there are plenty of precedents for Apple cutting off OS updates for older models. The original iPad, for instance, came out roughly six months before the 4th-generation iPod touch, but it wasn’t able to upgrade to iOS 6. So it wouldn’t be accurate to claim that Apple always makes updates available for all older models (even though that perception seems to be quite widespread)

Australian consumer law doesn’t have anything specific to say about how long products should operate for in a given category, but is based on “reasonable expectations”. It doesn’t seem entirely reasonable to me to demand a refund for an older model simply because you now can’t run a new OS on it.

Having said all that, the “it never hurts to ask” rule comes into play. Even if you can’t score a refund (and I suspect you can’t), you might be able to swing a discount or a trade-in on a new model. What your experience reinforces is that if you buy an older piece of technology because it’s cheaper, you need to remember that support and upgrades may not be on offer for as long.


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  • Touch Annoyed – consider yourself lucky. At least they didn’t release the update for your device, subsequently render the device unusably slow and crashy, only to deny the problem for months on end, only to eventually acknowledge the problem and at that point state that the OS is unsuitable for that device and announce that the device is no longer supported.

    I’s a business model which is predicated on driving consumers to purchase newer versions of hardware every year. Given Apple’s consistent and predictable hardware release cycle, if you must buy an Apple device, the best strategy is to wait for release day (or close to) to maximise your investment.

    • To be fair, iOS7 feels a heck of a lot faster and smoother than its predecessors. That’s on an iPhone 5, not sure what it’s like on the older models.

  • IOS7 is SHOCKING on my old iPhone 4 that my brother is using.

    but this is apples model, every few years, make everyone upgrade.. more money to them

    • Works great on my wife’s iPhone 4, so I suspect there is something wrong with your brother’s phone.

      I have a Newton and I’m angry and unhappy that iOS7 does not support it. Going straight to consumer affairs to complain.

  • While I hate Apple with a passion, I need to admit that it’s kind of silly to expect a company that discontinued production of a product to continue supporting it with software updates. That doesn’t make any sense.

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