Apple apologises to Chinese customers in row over warranty

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 April, 2013, 4:17am

Computer maker Apple has bowed to media pressure on the mainland - a major market for its products - and agreed to extend its warranty for its Chinese consumers.

The move came after People's Daily, the Communist Party's official mouthpiece, denounced the US company as "dishonest, greedy and arrogant" and urged people to "strike away" its "unparalleled arrogance".

The controversy began on March 15 when a CCTV consumer rights show criticised Apple for offering shorter warranties to Chinese iPhone users than those available in other countries.

While Apple maintained that its warranty practices in China were "completely legal" and denied that it had maintained a double standard for Chinese customers, chief executive Tim Cook apologised to mainland customers in an open letter on the firm's Chinese website yesterday.

"We still have many things to learn in terms of our operation and communication in China," the letter stated.

We still have many things to learn in terms of our operation and communication in China

Cook also apologised for any misconception that Apple was an arrogant company that ignored its customers' opinions.

He said that, from yesterday, the warranty on iPhone 4 and 4S handsets repaired by its shops would be renewed for another year, not just the remaining period on the initial warranty.

A week after the CCTV show, People's Daily published an editorial blaming the "greediness of capital" and claiming that Apple had "gone crazy" in its pursuit of profits.

Apple's revenue from the Greater China region in its fiscal first quarter from October to December jumped 68 per cent from a year earlier to US$6.83 billion - about 12.5 per cent of its global revenue.

Not everyone agreed with People's Daily's invective. Some bloggers found the "Cultural Revolution style" of criticism distasteful; others said no one was more arrogant than the "state-owned Chinese behemoths".

But one day after state media reported on Friday that Apple was set to face "strengthened supervision" from the mainland's consumer watchdog, rumours said Apple had quietly adjusted its warranty practices.

Cook said that, from now on, Apple would post the warranty for each of its products on its website. The company has also set up training courses for all its dealers and mainland staff to ensure they can explain its repair and warranty practices clearly to customers.