Australian retailer pauses sales of Apple’s AirTags over safety concerns

Technology

Officeworks, a major chain of office supply stores in Australia, has paused sales of Apple’s AirTags for an undisclosed reason. It’s believed that the temporary removal is due to safety concerns over the ease at which the button-cell battery can be removed.

Gizmodo has highlighted a post on Reddit’s r/Australia that claims a user tried to buy an AirTag from Officeworks with a voucher. While staff members could see the trackers in stock on the system and remembered selling them previously, they couldn’t find any devices.

“Eventually someone came downstairs from the office and explained that the AirTags have been recalled due to safety concerns of how easily the button-cell battery can be removed by a child. AirTags have also been removed from the Officeworks website,” wrote shwaaboy.

The Reddit post has been labeled as Unverified by moderators, but Officeworks has confirmed that the AirTags will be unavailable for purchase until further guidance is provided from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The ACCC confirmed concerns over the AirTags’ batteries to Gizmodo. “The ACCC is aware of reports raising concerns about the accessibility of button batteries in the Apple AirTag product,” a spokesperson wrote in an email.

“If a supplier finds that a product they supply is unsafe, the ACCC expects the supplier to conduct a voluntary recall to advise consumers of the risk, address the safety issue, or remove the product from the market,” the spokesperson added.

Three children have died after swallowing button-cell batteries in Australia since 2013, and around 20 children are taken to emergency departments each week for the same reason. Gizmodo notes that the country has introduced a new standard that requires warning symbols on product packaging and certain information in product instructions for button-cell battery products. Apple is planning to update its AirTags packaging and warnings to comply with the new standards.

Ironically, a recent iFixit teardown found that the AirTags’ battery was more difficult to remove than those in the rival Tile Mate and Samsung Galaxy SmartTag.

“AirTag is designed to meet international child safety standards, including those in Australia, by requiring a two step push-and-turn mechanism to access the user-replaceable battery,” said an Apple rep. “We are following the regulations closely and are working to ensure that our products will meet or exceed new standards, including those for package labelling, well ahead of the timeline required.”