Allen J. Hall

Materials Science & Engineering, Productivity, and Life

Apple’s “InEar Headphones” – broken and support difficult. (updated 01/26/09)

Well, interestingly, the strain-relief on the right-ear of my new In Ear Headphones (the dual-driver $80.00 ones for the new iPods) has broken. (to hear more and read the conclusion, click more…)

There is no failure in the sound quality etc., just a piece of plastic which is no longer properly in place. I called up Apple support today for the iPod, and was met with no ability to get help for these new somewhat pricey accessories. So, I guess I’ll call my local repair-tech (who’s a God-send) as well as the local retailer for the headphones at my Univ. We’ll see what can be done. Is it possible Apple has no method to repair or accept warranty items on such an accessory? I also can’t find a support document, section, or discussion in to help with my question. I strongly feel it’s a failure of manufacturing that would cause this little strain-relief to pop off, only 30 days from it’s purchase.

We’ll see what I can find out! (more about how this turned out after the jump…)

Pictures will be coming when I get to a good camera to take them to show the simple thing that’s happened. If I need to try a repair myself, I will, but these should be under warranty still!

ps- Sound quality is wonderful, but sound isolation is lacking. I strongly suspect that Apple decided not to completely isolate the user from the environment- think of all the kids wearing these things and crossing the street. Unfortunately, that means Apple chose not to produce a product focused on sound quality- at least I find the isolation lacking seriously. I know they’re fit is correct (from my experience with outer IEM’s) since the bass response is good and the cord-noise is quite high. I suspect the large holes in the back of the IEM’s are the culprit. Once out of warranty, I’ll be looking for some simple dinky stickers to put on the ends to help noise isolation.

UPDATE: 01/26/09
After a crazy rigmarole with the Apple phone tree, some of it in Spanish even though I didn’t ask for it.- I finally got a competent person on the phone. “Steven” is the fellow’s name, and he walked through the process of getting Applecare on the case. You see, it turns out the phone tree can’t handle accessories, and you invariably get sent to someone who may not know what you mean. I was told earlier that they’d replace the original earphones, but not the in-ear headphones- completely crazy- as these things are at least 3x the price of the originals… it’s hard to believe that Apple Care can’t deal with an Apple accessory even though it’s warrantied for 1 year and 30days return. BUT- they can- you just need to get someone competent on the phone. Steven was the guy for me. And now it looks like they’ll send an RMA for it- I’ll package it up and send it to Apple, once scanned, a new one will start shipping to me. [We'll see if this actually works- I'm a bit afraid that the earphones will get lost in the Ether... but, I'll update this post with info as I get it.] Turns out using the online web-order number was the key to this. So, keep those receipts and get someone who knows what they’re doing on the phone!!

One Comment

  1. Randy
    Posted July 22, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I had bought a pair just a little over a month ago and the right ear-piece stopped working or worked at under half volume then the left. I put some thought as to what the culprit was (other than poor manufacturing) and looked at the stupid little case I put it in. Every time I put it in the case the right piece’s cord is bent a considerable amount to get around the triangular case. Continued use of the case will obviously weaken the wire to the point of detachment.

    I (like many others i’m sure) have located the box but not the receipt. So in my successful attempt to get a new pair, I had taken them to the store and bought another pair. Once outside of the store, I opened up the box and did a little “switcharoo”. Came back to the store and got a refund, thus resulting in a new pair after the stores 30 day refund and without a receipt. HA

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I'm a graduate student (PhD Candidate) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

I've studied and researched in two fields of Materials Science and Engineering (Polymers and Semiconductors). My interests are as diverse as my musical tastes and I usually have my hand in some crazy project during my free time.

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