• Tech Tech

Outraged shopper dismayed by company’s ‘irresponsible’ advice about broken earbuds: ‘It doesn’t have to be that way’

“I thought it was crazy too.”

"I thought it was crazy too.”

Photo Credit: iStock

It can be really frustrating when you’ve paid good money for a new product and it doesn’t live up to your expectations. But if it’s under warranty, you should be able to request a repair, refund, or replacement. 

However, when the company asks you to do something wholly irresponsible to make use of that service, it can make you wonder what the logic behind the process is. 

One Redditor encountered such a baffling situation when trying to get compensated for a pair of earbuds.

The product was mostly in fine working order, but the battery life was apparently below advertised. When they tried to rectify the situation, the company asked them to destroy the earbuds in order to get a replacement.

“I don’t see the point in making senseless e-waste for a warranty claim,” they commented on the post. 

In order to circumvent the request to “smash” the earbuds with “something heavy,” the customer instead used Photoshop to create a picture of the technology submerged in water.

"I thought it was crazy too.”
Photo Credit: u/danimal1010 / Reddit

In addition to the e-waste — of which 6.9 million tons are generated in the United States every year, according to the Public Interest Research Group — the Redditor identified another key issue.

“I explained it is really irresponsible to be smashing lithium ion batteries due to a very high fire risk if [the] battery is punctured.”

Items with lithium batteries need to be disposed of at specialized centers because of the hazardous chemicals they contain. These can lead to fires if not disposed of properly and can affect human health if they leach out, potentially causing acute or chronic effects on the central nervous system, according to Alsym Energy.

The comments section on Reddit was equally as perplexed about the warranty request.

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” one user said. “I had a warranty replacement done and they just said ‘you do not need to return the defective product, please dispose of it according to local regulations.’”

Another commenter had a similar tale. “My wife had to do this with a hair dryer, she had to cut the cable up and send them a picture to get a replacement. I thought it was crazy too.”

Ideally, the products would be sent for repair so as not to waste materials that would have been energy-intensive to create in the first place and would otherwise go to landfill — leading to the production of planet-warming pollution and possibly causing a fire.

It presents a case for creating a more circular economy, in which pre-existing materials are taken advantage of in repairs instead of needing to produce more or to mine Earth’s resources.

Extending the lifespan of products can help minimize the waste we create, and a simple battery replacement in these earbuds would be a much more environmentally friendly solution.

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