Apple has attempted to gag owners of exploding iPods who apply for a refund. The situation came to light after 11-year old Ellie Stanborough was given an iPod Touch, which developed a serious battery problem.
"It made a hissing noise," her father told The Times. "I could feel it getting hotter in my hand, and I thought I could see vapour."
Mr Stanborough threw the device out of his back door, where "within 30 seconds there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10ft in the air".
The family contacted Apple to get a refund for the faulty hardware, but were told that they would receive compensation only if they signed a gagging order preventing them from discussing the exploding iPod with anyone.
Apple also declined to admit liability for the fault, and said that it would sue for damages if the gagging order was breached.
Mr Stanborough refused to sign the order. "I thought it was a very disturbing letter. They are putting a life sentence on myself, my daughter and Ellie's mum, not to say anything to anyone," he said.
"If we inadvertently did say anything, no matter what, they would take litigation against us. I thought that was absolutely appalling. We didn't ask for compensation, we just asked for our money back."
Increasing numbers of reports are emerging of problems with the iPod's lithium batteries. The Japanese government has issued a warning on the matter, and Apple currently faces a legal suit in Ohio after an iPod allegedly exploded in a child's pocket.
Apple will no doubt be looking to avoid the cost of a battery recall, similar to that which had to be carried out by the company and many others over exploding laptop batteries.
In 2006 Apple had to recall 1.8 million laptop batteries over similar problems. With over 170 million iPods sold so far, the cost of a recall could be staggering.
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