We’ve often had cause to criticise Apple for its contemptuous attitude to Australian consumer law, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has had several run-ins with the tech giant. Now Apple has given a formal undertaking to the ACCC to ensure it does not mislead consumer about their rights when they’ve been sold faulty goods.
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Apple has agreed to a court-enforceable undertaking that it will not mislead consumers over their rights to a replacement, refund or repair on defective goods. In particular, it won’t tell consumers that they’re not entitled to a refund on defective goods after a 14-day period, and it won’t tell consumers who have purchased products from non-Apple manufacturers at an Apple Store that they have to seek remedies from the manufacturer. Both practices are banned under Australian consumer law, but have been observed in Apple retail outlets.
Under the agreement, Apple will offer remedies when required for a minimum period of 24 months. That doesn’t represent a cut-off period either; as the agreement notes, “Apple has also acknowledged that the Australian Consumer Law may provide for remedies beyond 24 months for a number of its products.” (That would most likely apply with more expensive gear such as servers, rather than consumer items such as iPods.)
“The ACCC was concerned that Apple was applying its own warranties and refund policies effectively to the exclusion of the consumer guarantees contained in the Australian Consumer Law,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement announcing the undertaking. “This undertaking serves as an important reminder to businesses that while voluntary or express warranties can provide services in addition to the consumer guarantee rights of the ACL, they cannot replace or remove those ACL guarantee rights.”
As we’ve often pointed out, Apple has a good record in customer service, but does tend to treat its policies as more important than the actual law. This undertaking will (hopefully) put a stop to that.