iPhone 4 Bumper Refunds Begin

As promised, Apple has begun the process of refunding money to customers who purchased a bumper case for their iPhone 4.

“As of today, we have automatically processed your refund,” Apple said in a note received by some customers Thursday. “You have also been refunded for any Shipping or VAT charges that may have been applied to your order,” the note said.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said last week that the company would provide a free case, or bumper, to all iPhone 4 buyers who request one through Apple’s Web site and would also give refunds to those who previously purchased the $29 wrapper. The offer came in response to complaints that iPhone 4’s signal falters if a certain part of its exterior antenna—on the lower, left corner of the device—comes into contact with the user’s hand.

The bumper works by insulating the smartphone from interference caused by human skin.

Still, Jobs’ offer of a free case for all iPhone 4 buyers wasn’t enough to win Consumer Reports’ seal of approval for the device. “Consumer Reports believes Apple’s offer of free cases is a good first step,” staffers at the product testing outfit wrote in a blog post Friday.

“However, Apple has indicated that this is not a long-term solution, it has guaranteed the offer only through September 30th, and has not extended it unequivocally to customers who bought cases from third-party vendors. We look forward to a long-term fix from Apple. As things currently stand, the iPhone 4 is still not one of our Recommended models,” Consumer Reports said.

Jobs has insisted that concerns about iPhone 4’s antenna are overblown. He said at last week’s press conference that all phone antennas are subject to human interference. In fact, he claimed that iPhone 4 antenna’s weak spot is visibly noticeable by design. “We pretty much threw a red flag on it with these lines. X marks the spot,” said Jobs.

Jobs also said that Apple will roll out iPhone 4 in 17 countries starting July 30, and that the company is working on a software update that will fix a bug in the device’s proximity sensor.

Story continued at Information Week.com

Click video to hear audio