Apple slashed the cost of replacing an iPod with a faulty battery for US customers last month, but in the UK and Europe the "Battery Replacement Scheme" appears mired in confusion.

While Apple's US site clearly states that replacement will cost its customers $59 plus $6.95 in shipping (formerly $99 plus shipping), all traces of equivalent UK pricing have been expunged from Apple's UK site.

UK iPod owners play Apple runaround

Instead, UK users are directed from page to frustrating page as they search for definitive information on price before committing to using Apple's replacement service.

Apple's site promises information: "Check the pricing link on our service request form or contact your Apple Service Provider for details."

The page to which UK users are directed carries no such pricing information.

The last known cost for the scheme was £79. In the absence of any fresh pricing details, it can only be assumed the UK price remains unchanged.

This is the equivalent of $139.76 at today's exchange rates - or more than double what Apple now charges its privileged US customers.

Apple Care costs to fall

While iPods acquired in the last 12-months are covered by Apple's standard warranty in case of battery failure, older models are not, unless user's have invested in the Apple Care iPod Protection Plan.

Until yesterday, that plan cost UK users £59, but the company then reduced the price to £39, a company spokesperson confirmed. However, Apple's UK website price remains to be updated as this story goes online. The Apple Care iPod Protection Plan extends Apple's iPod hardware warranty to two years.

Despite the iPod's trifling size, battery replacement is no small matter.

MP's voice concern

Concern about iPod battery life reached the House of Commons last year, when 11 MPs put their names to a motion demanding that Apple ensure replacement batteries were made available at reasonable prices.

Apple's decision to reduce its charge for battery replacement in the US followed a successful class action suit against the company there.

That action required Apple to pay $100 million to disappointed customers who had acquired their music player before May 2004.

iPod battery battered

The suit alleged that iPod batteries, "failed to endure through the product's lifetime and play music continuously for up to ten hours as consumers were supposedly promised," Forbes wrote.

Apple's current iPods carry an advertised twelve hours batter life. Older models offered eight hours.

Macworld UK first requested information regarding the cost of iPod battery replacement in the UK on July 11, but Apple has not yet clarified its present pricing position.

Given Apple's opacity on price, is anyone aware of the current cost? If the price remains unchanged, is Apple playing fair with international customers? Comment on this story in Macworld UK's Forums.