Apple shrugs off China policy bash

By Zhang Ye Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-24 23:28:02

Apple Inc said Saturday that while its after-sale services in China are somewhat different from those in other countries, they comply with Chinese laws, the company's response to domestic media reports saying that Apple is treating Chinese consumers unfairly.

The company posted a statement on its website pledging to replace all parts but the cover if an iPhone 4 or 4S has quality issues within the warranty period, and to replace all defective iPhone 5s entirely because of the model's special design.

However, Apple's warranty policies are different in other countries such as the US, specifying complete replacement for all faulty products within the one-year warranty period, said a report by China Central Television (CCTV) on March 15, World Consumer Rights Day.

Domestic lawyers say this inconsistent treatment is Apple's way of circumventing Chinese laws, particularly the Stipulations on Responsibility for Repair, Replacement or Return of Mobile Phone Handsets, which requires that the warranty be renewed if a faulty mobile phone is entirely replaced.

Apple may have concerns that with such unlimited warranty extensions, Chinese consumers could repeatedly ask for replacements instead of buying new iPhones, which might explain why the company does not promise the same after-sale services in China as in the US, Wang Xu, a lawyer at the Beijing-based law firm Lantai Partners, told the Global Times Sunday.

Apple should not apply discriminatory practices in China despite those concerns, since the company claimed to provide a high standard of after-sale services to Chinese consumers in Saturday's statement, Qiu Baochang, president of the legal panel of the China Consumers' Association, told the Global Times Sunday.

Qiu added that the company is not solving the issue by offering better after-sale services for the iPhone 5 than the iPhone 4 and 4s, and that such a move could even be seen as a marketing plus for the iPhone 5.

He pointed out that the company's statement only mentions iPhones and does not address allegations of violating Chinese laws in terms of repairing iPads.

In China, Apple only promises to repair iPads within one year after purchase, while the warranty period should be two years according to a Chinese law on computer sales.

According to reports on January 14 from overseas media including the Wall Street Journal and Nikkei, Apple slashed orders for liquid crystal displays and other iPhone 5 components in December 2012, as the latest iPhone was not selling well worldwide due to fierce competition and quality issues.

It is not the first statement that Apple has released since the CCTV report led to a flurry of online criticism. The company said on March 16 that it pays great attention to consumers' opinions and suggestions, but did not mention after-sale services, which did little to quiet the worries of Chinese consumers.

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