Why I Canceled My iPhone 6 Order

I don’t think I need to offer a preamble, but I wanted to publish my thoughts so bear with me. Like many others, I rushed to purchase the iPhone 6, checking in via Swarm, tweeting my purchase and all-in-all genuinely excited at the prospects of upgrading my current device to all that the 4.7″ 6 had to offer. My Verizon salesman high fived me on my way out the door, reminding me to come back on the 19th to pick up my new smartphone.

And then I canceled the order. Because, humanity.

Yesterday a smattering of reports out of China told of a cluster of young Foxconn workers – the factory where the millions of iPhone 6’s are made – all dying from leukemia. All working in the same factory. Coincidence? Their families and labor welfare groups believe the leukemia was caused by exposure to the potentially toxic chemicals, benzene and n-hexane in the final assembly of iPhones and iPads where they where used to clean electrical panels. Apple announced it was banning the chemicals last month though the plant insists they haven’t been used for years.

According to a report from Daily Mail, the young workers who fell sick were “dismissed and denied continuing medical coverage, bankrupting families as they desperately pay for treatment.” Sadly this isn’t the first offense for Foxconn. It’s one of many that have been reported over the last seven years. From poor working conditions to forced labors to worker suicides, the list of violations would leave even the worst American corporations blushing.

And that’s where it ends. I can’t in good conscience purchase a product that is manufactured in a way that spits in the face of human rights. I love Apple. I loved the event last week, including the awkward Chinese voice over and the challenges they had live streaming it. It was almost endearing to know that not everything produced in Cupertino had to be perfect.

To err is to be human, a trait met with compassion by many. So it troubles me that a company that prides itself on connecting humans through technology treats those who build their products less than human. There are options that I’ll research, but the excellent MotoX is made in America and costs approximately $4.00 more per device than a phone made overseas, in plants that respect their workers. I’m not shutting the door on Apple. But in the near future, I won’t support their products until concerted efforts are taken to change.

Apple taught us to think different. Today I decided to act different instead.

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4 comments

  1. Charlie Jones · September 16, 2014

    13 workers diagnosed with Leukemia over a 3.5 year span. There are 500,000 workers at the Foxconn factory. I haven’t done the research, but since cancer is the third leading cause of death in China, my guess is the Foxconn numbers are <= China's national average for cancer.

    I'm sure there are worker rights issues within the Foxconn factory. But the timing of this article raises my suspicion that it's at best mis-leading.

    Some information to consider, what Apple is doing about worker rights and supplier responsibility:
    https://www.apple.com/supplier-responsibility/

    I'm not trying to sway your opinion, just pointing out that the article is flawed and misleading.

    • David Lezette · September 17, 2014

      And you are using the company in question as a source to determine their own ethical responsibilities. History has shown this may not be the best source for an unbiased view.

  2. joshsamd · September 16, 2014

    I’m sorry, but this just seems like some kind of hipster silliness to me.

    If you’re not going to purchase a product because the people involved in it’s manufacture risk injury or experience (perhaps unfair) hardships you’ve got a long road ahead, my friend. Get out your trash can and toss out 99% of your clothing. In fact, forget buying most any apparel you come across. And while we’re out at.. What other phone manufactor or consumer electronics manufacturer in general for that matter are you going to buy from?? You’re deluding yourself if any of them pass the “humanity” test.

  3. williamsdb · September 17, 2014

    I’d take anything you read in the Daily Mail with a truck load of salt if I was you. Watch this video and particularly about 1:50 in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI

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