Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

The average consumer has no idea if one of these cables will actually do what they proclaim. The only way to really know is when other customers review the product, which we know is barely useful most of the time due to fraudulent reviews. Great job on the part of this Google engineer for writing such clear and technical reviews of the products.

Now that an expert has called some of these cables out as not adhering to the spec shouldn't they be taken off of Amazon? Should they be reprimanded for false advertisement?

>> The average consumer has no idea if one of these cables will actually do what they proclaim.

Isn't that what standards compliance is supposed to be for? Shouldn't the product have to be tested against the standard in order to get labeled USB X.Y ?? Or doesn't USB have such a requirement?

Having worked at a company shipping a USB cable with our product, I know we explicitly couldn't use the USB logo on the cable without additional (expensive) testing. So our cable just didn't have the logo.

To quote Tommy Boy: "Hell, I can take a crap in a box and slap a guarantee on it for you"

And to put in terms of real-life - in Shenzhen, China I've seen people selling whole spools of "QC PASS" stickers, as well as any logo or guarantee label you want.

To be fair, QC pass stickers are going to be sold like that just because you'll need a lot of them if your only way of identifying pass/fail is via a sticker. I don't see why you wouldn't buy those en masse, and use them on a real assembly line -- especially in a country where most plastic goods are produced.

The quote I always seem to remember from that movie is: "New guy puking his guts out".

For me it's "fat man in a little coat." Sad to think that he's been gone eighteen years now.

Wasn't it fat "guy" in a little coat?

Who would do the testing?

USB is a trademark. No-one shall use it unless the USB Implementors Forum certifies them: http://www.usb.org/developers/logo_license

It's the same for Android. It's open-source, but you cannot say that it's derived from Android unless you pass Google's tests (and according to Chinese independent manufacturors, you need to know people from the inside to advance your application).

Does Underwriters Laboratories do that kind of testing? I'm honestly curious-- I don't think I've ever seen their logo on anything as cheap as a single USB cable.

If so, you can look for their logo and have... some confidence at least.

The government is the one that should apply the laws to protect consumers and fair competence. Once something fishy has been detected they have to act.


Lawyer here. Pure speculation/not legal advice:

Theoretically, people who purchased complain to their state attorney general or report the manufacturers to the FTC. There might be some recompense under consumer fraud laws. If enough people had bought them, there might be enough people to form a class action (doubtful though).

The problem is that amount of $ involved here is just not something anyone is likely to get up in arms about. It's $5. Most people will just write it off and never think about it again. No lawyer would bother either unless there were 10,000s of consumers willing to come forward and complain.

Just one of those shitty situations. Caveat emptor.

It's $5 for the cable, but you could potentially damage the USB C port on a laptop, and some rather expensive fruit branded laptops now charge solely via the USB C port, which you could argue destroyed the value of the laptop. That sounds like it might make a small-claims-court case sensible to me.

(I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice.)

"some rather expensive fruit branded laptops"

So do some rather expensive shiny-metal-branded laptops.

I was thinking the same thing. And some of these guys would not be able to capably defend very many small claims suits at one time. I always wondered what would happen in that case.

Very likely they're not even going to be around under that name by the time you file your suit, but instead operating under a different name. Good luck finding them in Shenzhen in order to collect.

And in a nutshell, that's why people buy stuff from apple. imo, their brand is "here's a good thing, and we promise it will work". Amazon's is "you're on your own, but it's really fucking cheap!" That's not to say amazon doesn't have good customer service, but the whole thing is still shit. I just wanted a [cable|dongle|hdmi adapter|battery|plant spray|charger] that was what it claimed to be and worked correctly the first fucking time. The fact that you have a good return policy doesn't fix the fact that I still don't have X.

Funny story. I wanted to buy a cheap iPad for my son. I could have got one from Amazon but after hearing so many stories about scams or refurb devices or devices with someone else's state on it I decided not to deal with that headache and ordered direct from the Apple website.

Upon turning on the device for the first time it showed a screen saying it was controlled by the LDS Church and wouldn't proceed through guided setup until I acknowledged that. After some time on the phone with customer service, we determined there was no way to remove this configuration. I ended up having to return it to an Apple store. The rep there said "yeah that happens sometimes" (someone pulled from the wrong pile in fulfillment most likely). So sometimes you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

If anything Amazon's customer service is better - to resolve an issue like this for items they ship I don't have to drive anywhere, just put the box back on my front doorstep. I wish they would make it clearer when you're buying things from them, and would do a better job of associating compatible products. This seems like data they should be able to have, and UI they should be able to build.

Annoyingly in places it looks like data they have and turns out but to be. I once bought a desk lamp which below it included the "people buy these together" box, which showed the llano and a bulb.

Frustratingly it wasn't the right bulb, but I just fed a further data point into Amazon's model, and reinforced their belief that its useful to list those two items as a pair.

Am I correct in assuming this is some kind of enterprise managed provisioning? I am surprised that they both ship it that way, and that it can't be removed. I guess Apple doesn't care about killing resale value (in the case of it being unremovable), but you'd think these kind of screw-ups would be a reason not to ship it this way. Do the restrictions extend deep into the hardware, or are they just saving the enterprise customer like 3 minutes per device pushing a profile over USB?

It's the Apple Device Enrollment Program (http://www.apple.com/business/dep/) and it allows enterprises to exercise "mobile device management" at the time of device activation. Apple says that once devices are enrolled they can't be removed (because, presumably, rows cannot be deleted from a database after being added... >sigh<).

It's not that easy. DEP is meant to also protect private property, so it piggy backs on activation lock to bind a device to a certain (company) Apple ID. Obviously, there must also be no way for any person to social engineer an Apple Care representative over the phone to get DEP lifted from a device, and this is why Apple Care can't do that, period. The only possible way to remove that is going through the private key bound to the MDM for that decide, the same MDM that requested DEP while buying the device in the first place.

(Obviously, much like for activation lock, it is indeed possible that someone with "root access" - so to speak - to Apple systems would be able to manually disable DEP; but the point is that this possibility isn't exposed on any user-level user interface)

>Obviously, there must also be no way for any person to social engineer an Apple Care representative over the phone to get DEP lifted from a device, and this is why Apple Care can't do that, period.

That's not obvious to me. Those same people can be social engineered into giving someone access to your data, which is an order of magnitude worse than a device wrongfully moving accounts.

I was not aware that there was any mechanism, even for the rightful owner, to have DEP membership removed from a device once it's enrolled. I'll have to look into that.

But once there are 500 reviews on a product it basically gives you that confidence.

This isn't a troll comment. Ben Thompson makes the argument that the reason why EBay, AirBnB, and Uber work is because you basically are replacing the trust you had in a brand with the trust you have in community reviews. He calls it 'Aggregation Theory'. I find it rather compelling to explain why these types of marketplaces work.

Problem is another supplier can claim to sell the same item and benefit from the positive reviews. I've seen a lot of this with unbranded items like USB chargers for cars.

Bingo. You always need to check the most recent reviews because of this: a solid history of 5000 5-star reviews is meaningless if the past 200 are 2-star reviews saying, "Not what I expected".

And still, no guarantees.

Exactly. And then you look up and you're 20+ minutes into skimming reviews in order to buy a $3 care remote battery or cable and wondering why the hell you didn't just drive to target / walk over the apple store because you'd be done with the errand by now.

I ran into exactly this earlier today. I needed to get a new Macbook charger and just buying one directly from the Apple store nearby was faster than (as I first attempted) trying to find one on Amazon without "this is actually a counterfeit imitation" warnings in the reviews.

At this point I just flatly don't trust Amazon anymore for small electrical devices, because there's too much of a chance (even for things labeled with brand names) that it's actually a cheap knockoff that will short-circuit and set something on fire eventually.

Between 2008 and 2013 when I had an iPhone, their USB cables would regularly break down on me. The problem was the white casing around the wire would break down and start to thread. So I think the rule of Apple promising high quality is true a lot of the time, it baffles me that they sold that low quality cable for so long. Ever since I switched to decives that support Micro-USB, cheap cables have yet once to break.

Every time I read something like this, I wonder "what the hell are you people doing to your Apple cables?" Now, I'm not saying you abuse your cables or anything. Maybe it was bad luck, maybe it's me just being extra careful with cables (doubt it, they're disposable in my book). But I've got a whole box of white cables. I finally threw an old 30-pin away that was so old it had the latches on the side that you had to squeeze to get the cable out. 30-pin connector was cracked, but it still worked. Threw it away only because we only have one 30-pin device left in the house, and the cable was sort of broken.

My wife did finally kill the Lightning cable in the car that was a few years old. One cable failure in probably ten years. That and $4 will get you a coffee at Starbucks, so take it FWIW. I just wonder why some have better experience with Apple cables than others.

Yeah, Apple uses rubber instead of plastics to wrap their cables. And it appears to have two problems. The common one with rubbers that they deteriorate by moisture. And it seems like the thickness of the layer is about as thin as the rubber's consistency allows. Meaning if you chip it in any way, the whole cable wrapper will slowly start to unravel.

I've now bought a couple of Nohon braided cables from Aliexpress and they seem to hold together nicely. But of course them being cheap Chinese cables they are finicky with iPhone 6+, but work fine with my 5s.

Amazon users do rely heavily on reviews, generally. I think with the Google engineers' reviews promoted to the top by the number of people who have marked them as helpful, market forces will finish the job. Few people will buy them, and those that do will have done so against solid advice. Amazon, of course, can delist things or not at their pleasure.

Or the seller creates a new account and keep selling the cables until another bad review. And then does the same again and so on.

Or relists under a slightly different part number.

Once a part gets a bunch of good reviews unless the other one is way cheaper people will just by the known good one.

Except for a given review, you can't tell which seller sold that item. Anyone can list on a given item.

When I give a review and it's an item with a lot of sellers I mention who I bought it from. It would be good if everyone did that.

Except when sellers send their stock to Amazon, to be distributed from their warehouses (fulfilment by Amazon), I recall reading about their stock being comingled, such that one seller was being legally sought after for selling pirated DVDs that another seller had sent to Amazon.

Sorry I can't find a better source at short notice.


I don't want Amazon being the product police, in the same way I don't want them refusing to sell products that they think compete with them (Chromecast). Amazon should be neutral about the products it sells, instead giving people the tools they need to make buying decisions, like reviews and ratings.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact