Apple’s History Of Contempt For Aussie Consumers

Apple’s History Of Contempt For Aussie Consumers

Apple being taken to court for deceptive marketing by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) should come as no surprise. The company’s recent history in Australia is littered with examples of its disregard for Australian consumer law and, by extension, Australian consumers.

Picture by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

I’m not going to presume to predict what the Federal Court might decide on Wednesday morning when it rules on the ACCC’s application to make Apple spell out much more precisely that the iPad+4G can’t on its own access any service currently sold as 4G in Australia. What I can point out is that Apple has repeatedly ignored Australian consumer law in favour of its own idiosyncratic approach.

The standout example in my mind is Apple’s attempt in its sale conditions to argue that when it sells goods which aren’t manufactured by Apple itself through the Apple Store, it can tell consumers to seek remedies through the manufacturers rather than through Apple itself. In Australian legal terms, this is absolute rubbish. As the ACCC has made very clear, retailers can’t do this:

In most cases consumers are entitled to seek a remedy from the seller or service provider and businesses must honour these obligations.

Apple’s second strike comes with its claim that goods which aren’t covered by AppleCare aren’t necessarily covered at all. Again, this isn’t true. Apple can voluntarily extend warranties by offering additional services, but it doesn’t have the sole determination on when a product is out of warranty, as the ACCC has also made clear:

It is important to remember that regardless of any warranty a business chooses to offer, consumers still have rights under the consumer guarantees. The extra warranty does not alter or limit consumers’ rights under the guarantees, and businesses should be careful that their warranties do not mislead consumers about their rights.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that Apple resisted attempts by the ACCC to ensure that consumers who purchased a phone on 24-month contracts had warranty coverage throughout that period, an issue which was problematic since back in 2010. It wasn’t until January 2011 and harmonised consumer laws that the ACCC got a local carrier (Optus) to agree to offer 24-month warranties on contract iPhones. Given the dominance of contract iPhone sales prior to that point, it’s pretty hard to argue that Apple was going out of its way to help consumers.

Australians apparently believe that Apple is one of Australia’s most trustworthy brands. Its legal history suggests it could do much more to actually earn that trust. The law is the law. Selling a boatload of products doesn’t exempt your obligations in any way. Whatever the court decides on Wednesday, Apple doesn’t have a good record in this regard, and it should be working to improve it, not doing what it likes and dealing with the consequences later.

Update: Another example I forgot: Apple likes to claim that refunds are not available on app purchases, which isn’t true if the app doesn’t perform as described.


  • Add to that list the Siri capability in Australia. There is marketing in Australia that suggests that Siri can look up Australian businesses when it actually can’t at all.

    • Generally west coast American software companies are blindly unaware of what’s going on in other parts of the world, and can’t see any failures there as being at all something to do with them. They have a big war-chest to pay fines and continue business as usual.

  • I agree that the 4G marketing is completely wrong. But it is not just in Australia, it’s a problem around the world. Apple stupidly made a device that only works properly in the US on their frequencies and ignored the issue for the rest of the world. Surely it wouldn’t have been that much harder to cater to systems deployed in Europe and Australia.

    You sure are quick to knock Apple though Angus. Good for page hits I guess, seeing as they’re the big fish now.

    • The ACCC taking Apple to court is a major story, and everything else Apple has done in that space is well-documented. (We write plenty on Lifehacker about ACCC decisions with other companies as well — Apple happens to have had a lot of issues.)

    • Again – we see the Apple-can-do-no-wrong and everyone who reports on an Apple problem or demeanour is Apple-bashing or trolling for hits. It’s a bloody cult isn’t it? Or Apple fans are so sensitive and have to defend their church at any cost?

  • Apple, at no time, sells contract iPhones to end users. The telco sells the iPhones and is therefore responsible for the warranty. Nice way to blame Apple for something that isn’t their responsibility.

    And, just as question, which other manufacturer of smartphones provides a 2 year warranty? Certainly not Samsung if my Galaxy Ace is anything to go by!

    • Wrong on two levels: (1) Apple will sell you a phone on contract in store, and it collects a payment from telcos for the length of contract .It’s hardly an uninvolved party. (2) Apple was specifically excluded from some deals with Aussie telcos which otherwise offered warranties for length of contract on __all_ phones (e.g. this arrangement with Telstra.

          • Both Samsung and Apple offer 1 year warranty on their smartphones. Carriers provide longer warranties to cover the longer contracts they sell. If you’re going to bash Apple on warranties, feel free to do your own research and point out how other smartphone makers are so much better. Oh, and don’t fall back on saying others just ‘copy’ Apple because they’re a market leader…

          • Thanks captain obvious. Maybe you like the idea of one-sided articles that bash a company when it is by all counts a market norm for these devices to have this type of warranty with longer carrier contracts. But hey, don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story for more hits.

          • I didn’t realise the ACCC was taking Samsung to court on wednesday as well.
            Since this article is about Apple being taken to court (and not Samsung) and the warranty issue was only posted as one of the examples, stop being such a nit-picking little fanboy.

          • This article is about the ACCC’s legal action against Apple, Gizmodo didn’t just pull the article out of thin air and start bashing Apple..

            Don’t let the truth.. oh wait..

          • Why should he have to go research what every other smart phone company does when the article was about the ACCC and Apple?
            It’s times like this that I wish two things:
            1) That I owned Apple stock and;
            2) That Apple made tissues. The amount of fanboy crying and tears would make me a rich man.

      • Wrong again Angus. Apple will only sell you an unlocked iPhone in their store.

        And no-one is saying it is an uninvolved party. What I am saying is that as far as contract phones go, Apple is NOT the reseller and is not the responsible party as far as warranty goes. The telcos PURCHASE their phones from Apple and are responsible for the warranty.

        • Thanks captain obvious. Maybe you like the idea of one-sided articles that bash a company when it is by all counts a market norm for these devices to have this type of warranty with longer carrier contracts. But hey, don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story for more hits.

        • Actually buddy they will/have sold contracts in their stores. Regardless even if you buy/go on a contract with a telco, the manufacturer is always ultimately responsible for the warranty as it is their warranty. The individual store/telco might deal on your behalf with the phone company (i.e. apple, samsung etc) but the manufacturer is always ultimately responsible.

  • Yes, the warranty probably sucks at face value, and 99% of people fall for it, but surely most of us would rather have option of poorer cover at lesser price (ie closer to the US+State sales tax) than a large impost + huge margin to cover our consumer rights obligation in Aus? [disclaimer, I’ve not checked prices lately]

  • Yep. They are wrong to have on the box 4G network compatible. So for the handful of customers that could have used it at the handful of sites where it is available, that may be a big deal. To the rest of us, not so much. I think consumers are a bit more savvy than you imply. If consumers aint happy with their iPad, Apple will take it back no questions asked. As for implied warranties, why single out Apple? A lot of retailers and manufacturers have been getting away with the “one year warranty” scams for years…

  • You forgot the price differential also.
    Even with a favourable exchange rate we still pay more than the Americans for an iPad made in China. And China is closer to Oz than USA.

    • Shipping is but a small part of the calculation. I think theres also some weird thing going on about sales taxes in the US. Dont forget economy of scale and differences in delivery infrastructure.

      • Economy of scale only applies to manufacture and it is China that has that economy of scale for the whole world.

        America just demands a better deal than us, and gets it. We pay for it.

  • Here’s something for you. My sister got a second hand iPod Touch for her birthday. She went into the Apple Store and they told her it was “unfixable” and that they’d give her $100 for it.

    My mother on her trip to Cambodia decided to take it with her and some repair shop fixed it like brand new for… 5 bucks.

  • I’m new to itunes. What about itunes music prices? I have a friend in the USA who recommended several songs which he claims was 99c there but was $1.69 in Aussie??!?

    That’s more than 70% price differential on a piece of music! It’s incredible Aussies haven’t boycotted buying music from the Itunes music store.

    • Easy fix for that one Asw – get a US Itunes account. You can’t use an Aussie credit card with it but you can buy itunes credits (the code delivered by email) using your aussie credit card from places like Best Buy. I generally buy my itunes music via the US store these days.

    • No doubt this is partially due to the Australian distribution companies/music publishers, who charge different rates & fees for distribution in Australia/NZ etc. Probably the same as game publishers on Steam charging US$90 to Aus customers, when the same games sell for US$50 to US customers.

  • Wow – I can’t believe that some of the posters love Apple more than making sure consumer rights are protected. Talk about brand loyalty!

  • This is just further evidence of how the world’s largest company rips off its customers, but its also evidence of how stupid many consumers are to fall for the Apple marketing hype. Microsoft used to be the tech baddy, but Apple has gone much much further. What about the nearly $100 billion cash pool that Apple can’t decide how to use? If that isn’t clear evidence of extreme profiteering, then nothing is. And the admission by Apple that they make almost a clear 50% full profit on each iPhone they sell?

    Why are people so blind to the way this company treats, or should I say, abuses, its customers. Steve Jobs may be dead, but his arrogance lives on. Apple is making consumer rip-off into an art form, and the suckers continue to line up with their wallets open and eyes shut.

    • Wow. A profitable company that sells products that people want globally and it is extreme profiteering? These are not essential services, they are nice-to-have devices that the first world is happy to pay for because they offer great functionality and capability at a price point that is appealing.
      Maybe you should ask Samsung how much money they make on TVs, Mobiles and other devices – your reality where companies should sell devices for tiny mark-ups is a little warped.

  • These are sins committed by many companies:
    – Asserting goods cannot be returned.
    – Claiming the manufacturer warranty is the only warranty.
    – Requiring consumers to take faulty goods to the manufacturer.

    Yes Apple does this, and it is visible in doing so since it is such a large company, but I see at least one of these breaches every single time I go shopping.

  • HEY…I vaguely remember a little product called “Kinect” that didnt have voice for the Australian market – it was our for over a year before they supported it!
    Anyone go Microsoft??!?!?!?

  • I have bought a Mac (a long time ago now) for it’s loudly trumpeted AV capabilities – only to find that it is NTSC-only and not PAL. And I did my research and never saw any indication that AV was for the US only. The repeated attempts to blame the user for not doing research, for not holding the ithing right, and the vitriolic attacks from the isheeple should one dared to point out a problem – all this is just pure and simple contempt. So I no longer buy or use anything Apple. Have not done so for almost 20 years.

  • Of all the consumer rights issues listed above this is the least important of all! The label “4G” is as misleading as anything! Who cares if it says 3G, 4G or OMG on the side of the box, its all irrelevant to what consumer is going to get at the other end!

    Let’s suppose that they just put 3G on the side of the box…what does that mean – means something totally different to a customer using the telstra network as opposed to Vodafone even to the point that on telstra your “3G” speeds could well be exactly the same as a AT&T 4G user in the US – so for the vast majority of consumers that we are protecting, surely the performance is what matters – not the label!

    The fact of the matter is you need to read the small print and understand some pretty technical differences regarding our networks to have any indication as to what data speeds you are likely to see using any devices sold by any manufacturer on any network….perhaps vodafone’s 30day network guarantee is the best solution for all networks.

  • Do people ever wonder why Apple fans are so quick to defend them. For no other reason but the quality of the products they provide. And any impartial party could see that, as time goes by, and they release product after product, Apple seemingly get criticised more and more, most of the time for things that are either not even relevant, or are so minuscule that they mightn’t as well be.

    It’s true that what they did with the 4G advertised situation was wrong, and they should be reprimanded for it. If anything, for Apple fans this is a good thing. We know they won’t do it again. People complain that companies like Samsung never have these issues (which is questionable to begin with), but the real fact is, these companies rarely innovate and suffer from one-up syndrome, letting another company create, and then come along and try to replicate it but with better hardware, or alternative OS’s etc. We saw it with iMac’s, MacBook’s, iPhone’s, iPads, OSX etc… Personally, I honestly couldn’t care less about 4G. Data restrictions and costs from telco’s make it pretty much pointless, my 3G connection does everything I want it to do just fine. Anything I need a high speed connection for, I’ll do at home or work. Nor would I care about the supposed heat problem. Apple also always said Siri was in beta, and that location services were unavailable in AU. And as far as the iPhone 4 antenna goes, that was the epitome of blown out of proportion. Steve Jobs saying “just hold it differently” was hilarious, because, well, I did, and wow, it worked.

    Also, your title implied, a long, dark history of how Apple ruined the world, but I don’t really see any “history” at all. All you mentioned was the warranties, which is hilarious. Their warranties are in line with just about any company that manufactures similar products.

    • ” If anything, for Apple fans this is a good thing. We know they won’t do it again.”

      Like stuffing up daylight savings calculations, or continually reintroducing bugs into iTunes.

    • “All you mentioned was the warranties.” Really? What about the failure to support other products sold in the store, the incorrect claims about warranty length, and the incorrect statements about app store refunds?

      The point about phone warranties, for all the commenters who haven’t read the article, is that Apple specifically sought to be excluded from requirements that telcos who sold a phone on a 24-month contract had to offer a warranty for that period. It eventually agreed to do so with Optus, but specifically refused to get involved with similar deals made by Telstra and Vodafone back in 2010.

      • Just a thing about app store refunds, I actually got one, and it was quite easy. It was kind of my fault as well. I also still have that app in my iTunes and could use it if I wanted too.

        • Angus, it’s probably best to just leave the article written as it is and let people form their own opinions than start getting snappy with people about it.

          You’re really just lowering yourself to the level of “keyboard warrior”.

  • DSE had to ring Apple before they would replace my DOA power supply on an ipad with a power supply off the shelf. They were going to send it for repair until I threatened to return the ipad with it.

    • Apple pays, Apple has the final say on the replacement. DSE would have given you a replacement power supply for one of their products because it is their warranty.

      I do agree though that Apple is too rigid on their warranties. I had a stand up fight over 2 weeks to get Apple to let me keep a dead HDD to try and recover it. They were right in the end however and it was a lost cause. They remained unfailingly polite and helpful through the entire tussle.

      Apple has a bureaucracy and bureaucratic procedures like anyone else. The bigger they get, the harder it is to get them to be flexible.

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