iWin: Pensioner sues Apple after honeymoon pictures are deleted by ‘Genius’ tech support

Retired Deric White, 68, from Pimlico, London, took his iPhone 5 in for repairs at the con outer giant’s Regent Street branch in December last year after receiving a text message saying there was fault on the device.

But when the phone was handed back to him by staff all of his pictures, contacts and videos had been wiped from the phone – and only then was he asked if he had backed it up.

A disgruntled Mr White said: ‘My life was saved on that phone. I lost my favourite video of a giant tortoise biting my hand on honeymoon in the Seychelles.’

Today, in a David and Goliath-style battle Mr White faced down Apple’s lawyers at Central London County Court and was delighted when he was awarded £1,200 in compensation, declaring it ‘a victory for the common man’.

He was given £1,200 compensation and £773 in court costs by the judge who ruled Apple had been ‘negligent’.

During the hearing Mr White told the court: ‘I was absolutely livid and my wife had been in tears.
‘We had beautiful pictures of the Seychelles and other pictures as well, of African rhinos.

‘All my contacts had gone and they had vandalised my phone. They knew they had done this and send me on my way. This is where my anger is, they sent me on my way like an imbecile.’

White said he went to complain to Apple when he kept receiving text messages twice daily during his honeymoon telling him to reset his password.

He said a member of staff at the exclusive Raffles hotel in the Seychelles had reset the password for him during his honeymoon, but the messages kept arriving.

He went to the store on December 11 last year and left his handset with staff while he went Christmas shopping for presents for his wife.

However, when he returned Mr White said he was told there was something wrong with his phone and he would be given a replacement.

He was sent to the ‘genius bar’ at the flagship store, and a technician took his phone away to analyse it.

‘He came back and said everything’s working alright on that now, and he gave me the phone’, he said.

‘As I was about to slip off the stool, he said: “Have you got everything backed up on that?”

‘I said no, I don’t think so – I don’t like the databank in the sky.’

Mr White said he eventually agreed to sign up for iCloud, but when he got home he realised his phone had been restored to factory settings.

He went back to the store the following day and spent two-and-a-half hours demanding that his data was returned.

‘I said I’m not leaving the building, you will have to call the police’, he said.

‘I just wasn’t going to let it drop, why should I let someone tread all over me and treat me like an imbecile and then walk away and be left with all the mess to pick up?

He told the court his wife had taken a few snaps during their honeymoon, but he had taken the majority of pictures and also videos.

He said he has already spent £850 on the legal challenge, and originally wanted to ask for 10,000 euros to pay for a new honeymoon.

‘They slapped me across the head and sent me out of their store like an idiot’, he said. ‘That insult is still with me, my grief is with Apple.’

District Judge Ruth Fine, sitting at London County Court within the Royal Courts of Justice, today said Apple was guilty of unreasonable behaviour for failing to settle the case before it got to court.

‘I accept the claimant’s version of events’, she said. ‘The defendant’s employees were negligent in the treatment of the claimant’s telephone, causing the claimant loss of photographs of particular sentimental value and the loss of all his contacts.

‘I’m satisfied he was unable to retrieve the lost photographs and contact details. Just because damages are difficult to assess does not disentitle a claimant to compensation.’

The court heard Mr White first demanded 10,000 euros from Apple staff to compensate him, and when that was refused said he would settle for a new computer screen and printer, worth around £1,000.

However, his efforts to settle the case were rebuffed by Apple, leading to today’s High Court hearing.
The judge awarded Mr White £205 for the cost of filing the claim, £350 for the hearing fee, £28 in travel costs, and £190 for his time preparing the case.

‘I find the defendant has behaved unreasonably in these proceedings’, the judge added.

Retired advertising man Mr White, who is now a landlord and property manager, said he spent £7,500 on the honeymoon to the Seychelles, and does not know if he and wife Maria, 50, will go again now.

He said he has lost hundreds of photos, including pictures with the nurses who helped him overcome oesophageal cancer last year.

Speaking outside court, he said: ‘They have dragged me through the mud for this. It’s a victory for the common man who sought to stand up against multi-national corporations.

They should be brought to boot when they do wrong, but they are usually too big for anybody to take on.

Mr White added that despite his ordeal, he has not ditched Apple altogether.

‘It’s a great piece of equipment’, he said of the iPhone6 he now has. ‘Their product is quite good.’

Victoria Nottage, for Apple, argued in court that Mr White’s wife had also taken photos on the holiday, and some of his lost contacts could be retrieved from other sources.

‘Photos from the iPhone5 have unfortunately been lost, the claimant’s wife did take a camera and did take some photos’, she said.

She said Apple continues to insist it was not at fault for the phone being wiped.

‘The claimant made the affirmative decision to take the phone into the Apple store in Regent Street to have the phone serviced or repaired’, she said.

‘In doing that, he made the decision to hand the phone over to them knowing the iPhone was not backed up and the pictures and videos were therefore at risk.’

Ms Nottage added: ‘It’s the defendant’s case he did warn Mr White in restoring the phone the data was in jeopardy, they couldn’t guarantee its integrity.

‘It is something we inform all customers of before they carry out any action on phones or iPads.’

Apple has 14 days to pay compensation and the costs to Mr White.

In the court papers Apple’s lawyers said: ‘The claimant has not demonstrated how he suffered any loss.’