Apple Playing Dumb With Consumer Refund Rights

What happens if a company sells you faulty goods? The correct answer is that they should offer a refund or replacement, but apparently that's not always the case — even if the company is a consumer giant like Apple.

Over at Apple forum MacTalk, there's an interesting discussion thread triggered off by a reader who tried to return a faulty iPhone case to Apple's online store, only to be told that they would have to deal with the manufacturer. That in turn triggered a discussion with the NSW Department of Fair Trading (DFT):

They agreed 100% that it was not right for Apple not to take responsibility for the products they sell and to push people to the manufacturer. The DFT said they were not aware of Apple's online policy but had already spoken to them and "they were looking at changing their policy" (or words to that effect). They also told my friend to expect a call from Apple to remedy the situation. Trading law is very clear - if the item is not of merchantable quality then the retailer that sold it must take responsibility and offer to repair, replace or refund the item.

Apple has been caught up in questionable warranty and refund behaviour before, but as several commenters on the MacTalk thread point out, this sort of behaviour is distressingly common with all kinds of online retailers, whose thin margins often mean they have minimal resources to deal with customer service.

No matter how thin the margins, though, legal obligations in terms of consumer law can't be dismissed by a store's own terms and conditions. While individual consumer disputes normally get dealt with at state level, the principle of selling goods of "merchantable" quality is one which applies Australia-wide, and which the ACCC is more than happy to enforce.

Had your own messy experience trying for a refund from an online store, Apple or otherwise? Tell us about it in the comments.

Apple Online Returns Policy Breaks NSW Law [MacTalk]


    Within 7 days it should fall within the DOA failure & be handled via the corporation that took your money. Beyond that period, fair enough, try and claim against the manu.

    Put simply, the iphone case does not function as its advertised nor implied to operate, thus is a perfect candidate for replacement or store credit.

    It would be then up to Apple to deal with their supplier of damaged goods (ie. who took their money). The money trail is the pattern of responsibility here, u take cash, u take responsibility.

    I bought a Griffin Car Adaptor for my iPhone 3G when they first came out, from the Apple Online store.

    After about 2 weeks of trying to get the thing to work even remotely decently I decided to give up and try the Belkin one. As it was within 30 days I checked the Apple site to see what could be done. Wasn't expecting much.

    Couldn't have been easier. Had to pay a small restocking fee ($10 I think from memory - for a $130ish part, not bad) but that included them sending me a courier bag to pack the item in to return. All I had to do then was call the number when I was ready and the dude picked it up the next day. Credit came through on my credit card within a week.

    Wish all stores made it this easy.

      Michael, are you saying that you couldn't work out how to get it to work or that it just wasn't working. If it plain old wasn't working (as it sounds) then why should you be happy that you had to pay for their mistake?

    I bought a refurbished MacBook Pro that had a faulty hard disk; it was purchased from the online store. Called Apple and the local Apple reseller came out to pick up the laptop and returned it later that day repaired. Can't complain with that.

    Apple does not have slim margins

    I struggled getting my DOA (dead on arrival) ipad replaced quickly. I initally was told by an apple staff member that it would be quicker to go back to the reseller & get a refund then it would be for apple to replace it (i was told I'd have to wait 1-2 weeks just to see a 'genuis' before it could be determined if my (obviously) broken ipad could be replaced.

    A quick email to '' saw apple quickly change their attitude & provide me with some execptional 'old school' apple service.

    Interesting, I had an issue with a pair of Sony headphones purchased at the Apple store in Sydney - about 2 weeks out from the warranty end, one ear stopped working. I took it in to Apple but they told me to go to Sony directly; the Sony centre store in World Square couldn't have been more helpful, taking the headphones without question and calling me every couple of days to keep me updated (took a week) about the replacement.

    I recently had my Itunes account hacked, email address changed for notifications of purchases to be received, password changed, so I couldn't retriece info, and then about $250 of Iphone apps downloaded - I don't have an Iphone.

    When I contacted Apple they were more than happy to disable my account, and then reset my password, after verifying me, but said they would not advise the email of where the notifications were sent unless they were issued a subpoena to do so, even though verified I was the owner of the account!!

    I a still disputing the transactions through the normal banking channels

    Under the Trade Practices Act, if the seller of goods imports those goods from overseas where they were manufactured, the seller of the goods is taken to be the manufacturer for the purposes of the Act and and claims under the Act (for example, claims that the product was not or merchantable quality)

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