Why is a US Senator Writing to a company to tell them how to address concerns about their products

Is there anything that politicians don't think that they are supposed to tell companies what to do? In this case, Senator Charlie Schumer wrote Apple Computer about how to deal with their iPhone 4 reception questions. Schumer might have wished that he waited until after Steve Job's press conference on Friday (see here for video).

Do politicians realize what is appropriate given that their actions might come across as threats?

July 15, 2010
Dear Mr. Jobs,
I write to express concern regarding the reception problem with the Apple iPhone 4. While I commend Apple's innovative approach to mobile technology and appreciate its service to millions of iPhone users nationwide, I believe it is incumbent upon Apple to address this flaw in a transparent manner. According to Consumer Reports' review, released Monday on its Web site, the iPhone 4's signal-strength problem is a hardwire glitch triggered by gripping the device in a particular manner. This finding, according to Consumer Reports, "call[s] into question" Apple's recent claim that the problem is "largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software." Consumer Reports declined to recommend the iPhone 4 because of this hardware design flaw.
Given the discrepancy between Consumer Reports' explanation of the reception problem and the explanation provided by Apple in its July 2 letter to customers, I am concerned that the nearly 2 million purchasers of the iPhone 4 may not have complete information about the quality of the product they have purchased. The burden for consumers caused by this glitch, combined with the confusion over its cause and how it will be fixed, has the potential to undermine the many benefits of this innovative device. To address this concern, I ask that Apple provide iPhone 4 customers with a clearly written explanation of the cause of the reception problem and make a public commitment to remedy it free-of-charge. The solutions offered to date by Apple for dealing with the so-called "death grip" malfunction--such as holding the device differently, or buying a cover for it--seem to be insufficient. These proposed solutions would unfairly place the burden on consumers for resolving a problem they were not aware of when they purchased their phones.
I also encourage Apple to keep its promise to provide free software updates so that bars displayed accurately reflect signal strength; I further urge Apple to issue a written explanation of the formula it uses to calculate bar strength, so that consumers can once again trust the product that they have invested in.
I look forward to Apple's swift action on this matter, and once again laud Apple for its innovative efforts and service to millions of Americans.
Charles E. Schumer



Blogger Proof said...

How do you spell "chutzpah"?

7/18/2010 10:50 PM  
Blogger Esther said...

Unfortunately these are not idle threats of more regulation. We've now been dealing the fall out from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). This one law is still not thoroughly implemented and is only causing more harm while the supposed benefits have yet to appear.

7/19/2010 12:56 AM  
Blogger Martin G. Schalz said...

Did I miss the memo on Chucky being elected to the board of directors at Apple Computer? Or is this just another fine example of elected individuals overstepping the boundries of the authority that we the people grant to our Government Officials?

7/19/2010 10:40 AM  

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