Chinese broadcaster lays into Microsoft's service

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 3:57am

Microsoft appears to be the latest multinational technology company in the crosshairs of China's state-controlled media after Apple was targeted last month.

China National Radio on Monday denounced Microsoft, the world's biggest software supplier, for providing a warranty covering its Surface Pro media tablet that did not conform to the country's law.

It said there should be a one-year repair warranty for the whole device and a two-year warranty for its main parts, instead of Microsoft's existing one-year warranty for both, a Bloomberg report said yesterday.

The attack on Microsoft came about three weeks after Apple was subjected to scathing reports in state-run media outlets over its iPhone warranty and repair policies.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook last week issued an open apology, through the company's mainland website, to consumers for the company's after-sales service. China Central Television (CCTV) launched a broadside against Apple on March 15.

The mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan collectively represent Apple's second-largest market after the United States.

Despite the complaint raised against Microsoft, the company might not be entirely at fault, said Kitty Fok, the general manager at technology research firm IDC China.

"If Microsoft is providing the same warranty for [the] Surface Pro everywhere else, the company did not treat Chinese customers unfairly," Fok said.

The mainland was the first market outside the US in which the Surface Pro became available. Microsoft launched a special China edition of the Surface Pro on April 2.

A spokesman for Microsoft declined to comment, saying only that the company would release an official statement addressing the warranty issue on the mainland today.

Pan Yi, a reporter at China National Radio, said the station looked into Microsoft's after-sales policies after receiving complaints from listeners, the Bloomberg report said.

"Our story is not really related to CCTV's Apple story," Pan said. "A lot of foreign companies are not very familiar with China's after-sales policies."

The negative publicity may hurt Microsoft at a time when it is playing catch-up with Apple and various Chinese makers of tablets on the mainland, the world's largest market for personal computers.

Despite the criticism, Fok said Microsoft's release of a special-edition Surface Pro on the mainland showed that the company "valued the importance of the China market and is trying to offer something better to Chinese consumers".