The ACCC has issued a bizzare notice this morning, both acknowledging the updates Apple has made to the retail packaging of the AirTags, and at the same time putting out a public warning about the devices.
This issue goes back to the launch of Apple’s Bluetooth and Ultra-wideband item trackers in April. Amazing devices which work as intended and better than any rival product, but which were them abruptly removed from sale at Officeworks, and many other retail stores.
No recall was issued, not even a word of concern from the ACCC over the Apple AirTags, yet retailers took it upon themselves to deem them to seemingly be unsafe.
Today, Apple’s new product packaging rolls out, containing a new button battery warning, and button battery guidance on the in-package documentation.
This all relates to the concerns around button batteries and kids – sadly four children in Australia have died and many more been injured as a result of consuming the small 10c size batteries.
However, like all products containing button batteries, the Apple AirTags are required to meet local and international standards for child safety, which they do – a push and twist action is required to remove the battery casing.
However, while acknowledging Apple’s updated packaging, the ACCC has still expressed concerns over the batteries.
“We were also concerned that the outer product packaging does not have any warning about the presence and dangers of button batteries, and we note that Apple has now added a warning label to the AirTag’s packaging. However, this alone does not address our fundamental concerns about children being able to access the button batteries in these devices,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“We are continuing to investigate to determine what actions may be required to address our safety concerns,” Ms Rickard said.
“We are also liaising with our international counterparts on the safety of Apple AirTags, and at least one overseas public safety regulator is also examining the safety of this product at this stage.”
Short of issuing a recall, or banning the product, the ACCC has issued this warning:
“As a safety precaution, we urge parents to keep AirTags away from their children. We know that small children can be fascinated by keys and love playing with them, so there is a risk that they could access this product, which is designed to be attached to a key ring, among other things,” Ms Rickard said.
Importantly, the ACCC indicates they are not looking just at Apple’s AirTags, saying “The ACCC is also assessing whether there are issues with button battery safety in similar Bluetooth tracking devices.“
That should mean Tile and other brands are also in focus. While Apple’s two step mechanism does meet standards, it’s expected the ACCC will argue down the track that the battery itself then pops out of the product too easily – when compared to other product.
EFTM encourages everyone to buy up on AirTags now, as this issue isn’t going away soon and if the ACCC’s track record is anything to go by, they’ll want product changes which will mean we either lose the product in Australia or need to wait a long time for a change.