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Apple will replace faulty third-gen iPod shuffle headphones

Apple this week announced that it will offer free-of-charge replacements for some defective headphones included with the company's third-generation iPod shuffle, sold between Feb. 2009 and Feb. 2010.

The new replacement program applies to the special headphones included with Apple's iPod shuffle that allow control of the button-less media playback device. Apple said a "very small percentage of iPod shuffle owners" have experienced controls that are non-responsive or work intermittently, unexpected volume increase or decrease, and unexpected playing of voice feedback.

Headphones covered by the replacement program have serial numbers that range from xx909xxxxxx to xx952xxxxxx, and xx001xxxxxx to xx004xxxxxx. The serial number for the third-generation iPod shuffle can be located on the back of the iPod underneath the clip in the area closest to the bottom of the device.

In addition, "Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic" and "Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic" with the same symptoms are replaceable. Affected headphones must include an in-line remote on the right earbud cable.

Users who replace the headphones can use Apple's Online Service Assistant, where, in addition to the serial number, they must provide their shipping and billing address and credit card information. Choose "Replace part or accessory," and then choose "Headphones" to complete the request.

Customers will be sent a pair of replacement headphones, along with a pre-paid return envelope to ship back the original, defective pair. Apple said it will examine the original headphones and ensure they are "recycled responsibly."

Users can also visit an Apple retail store to return their problematic headphones. An appointment with a Genius is recommended for replacement.

Despite the fact that Apple is replacing defective headphones, it is not extending the standard warranty coverage of the device.

Apple introduced the third-generation iPod shuffle — its smallest media player ever — in early 2009. The device requires the special headphones included with the player in order to control playback of music.