The lawsuit detailed on this page was dismissed after U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns granted summary judgment to Costco.
In a March 12, 2021 order, found here, Judge Burns held that Costco’s description of its 2nd Generation Apple AirPods would not have misled a reasonable consumer and that the plaintiff’s confusion was rooted in his own mistaken belief that all of Apple’s 2nd Generation AirPods come with wireless charging cases.
“Costco is not liable for customers’ misunderstandings based on their own unreasonable beliefs about the products Apple sold,” the judge wrote.
As explained in the order, Apple sells two versions of its 2nd Generation AirPods, one that comes with a wireless charging case and a cheaper version that comes with a wired case. Costco’s listing of the AirPods, which describes them as “Apple AirPods Wireless Headphones with Charging Case (2nd Generation),” makes no mention of a wireless charging case, according to court documents.
Though the plaintiff pointed to 10 customer reviews as evidence that a “substantial number” of people were confused by the language of Costco’s listing, Judge Burns noted that the reviews were “not particularly helpful” given most of the customers’ complaints were based on their mistaken belief that Apple’s 2nd Generation AirPods only came with wireless charging cases and that the products they purchased were therefore not genuine 2nd Generation AirPods.
“Rather than showing that a substantial number of customers acted reasonably but nevertheless were misled or confused, the evidence shows that dissatisfaction with the AirPods description in part stemmed from reviewers’ unreasonable mistakes, or other complaints that are not the subject of this action,” the judge wrote.
The March 12 order further stated that the plaintiff could not represent a nationwide class as to his negligent representation claim under California law.
“Without belaboring the point, California has no interest in having its law of negligent misrepresentation applied to product listings that originated outside California, were seen by consumers outside California, led to those consumers buying products outside California, and have no connection to California,” the order reads.
The judge dismissed the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice and the putative class claims without prejudice, meaning the case could potentially be refiled by someone else.
A proposed class action claims Costco Wholesale Corporation has misled consumers as to the wireless charging capability of the Apple AirPods headphones available through its website.
Though Costco advertised the product online as “2ndGeneration” Apple AirPods capable of wireless charging, the device sold by the defendant was in reality “an unknown hybrid mix” that did not come with a wireless charging case normally included when the product is sold directly by Apple, the suit alleges.
The lawsuit says that the 2ndGeneration AirPods sold by Apple come with a wireless charging case that allows earbuds placed inside to be charged without plugging into a wall outlet. The case itself, when sold by Apple, can be also be charged wirelessly, the suit adds.
The suit argues that when viewing Costco’s website, a reasonable consumer would expect a product advertised as “Apple AirPods Wireless Headphones with Charging Case (2ndGeneration)” to come with a wireless charging case as sold by the original manufacturer. Instead, consumers have come to find after ordering the product from Costco online that the charging case sent with the headphones is not capable of wireless charging and can only be charged with a standard lightning cable, according to the lawsuit.
The case argues that Costco “purposely omitted” from its online product listing any reference to how the AirPods are charged in an effort to mislead consumers and gain a market share over competitors. Rather than clearly disclose to consumers how the product is charged, the defendant simply lists “AirPods with Charging Case” under a section marked “Product Details,” the suit says.
The plaintiff claims he relied upon the defendant’s representations when deciding whether to purchase the product, and reasonably believed that the 2ndGeneration AirPods would arrive as advertised, complete with a wireless charging case. Instead of “a true and correct latest version” of the 2ndGeneration Apple AirPods, the plaintiff received what may have been 2ndGeneration AirPods without the expected wireless charging case, according to the suit.
The lawsuit claims the plaintiff and proposed class members would not have purchased the Apple AirPods from Costco, or would have paid less for the product, had they known the headphones were not the latest model capable of wireless charging.