The ACCC has found tech giant Apple to be in breach of Australia’s consumer guarantee laws. Instead of adhering to the Australia’s new consumer laws, for the past two years Apple and its suppliers have been telling Australian customers that are were only entitled to what Apple offered in its warranty if a product failed.
The findings showed that Apple and its suppliers had been telling customers that it did not have to provide a refund, repair or replacement when an item encountered a major failure, when in fact, a full refund or replacement should have been offered. Furthermore, the findings suggested that customers should have been entitled to free repairs, refunds or replacements with minor failures as well.
Consumer guarantees in Australia do not time limit, but can be applied for as long as reasonable to expect due to the cost and quality of a product.
Apple will now reassess all claims regarding faulty products made over the previous two years to provide customers with what they are legally entitled to. Apple has also been forced to include a consumer rights page on its website for the next two years and stock ACCC brochures in all its stores. Most importantly, Apple has agreed to now cover its products from faults for at least 24 months.
It comes as no surprise to me that the world’s richest company, Apple, has been misleading its customers for years in regards to consume guarantee. Ever since launching in Australia in the early 00’s, Apple has continued to charge significantly higher rates for all its products than it does in other countries. Apple was one of three main tech companies earlier this year which refused to be involved in an inquiry into the higher prices charged to Australians for IT products. It was later summonsed by the House of Committee on Infrastructure and Communications to face the music.
When you compare the prices available on the US Apple site to its Australian website, there is no doubt that Apple has been gouging Australian customers in regards to IT products, but the gouging doesn’t stop there. The big money spinner for Apple has come in the way of its iTunes store. Using numbers reported from 2011, Australian users were being charged 30 per cent more to download the paid version of the Angry Birds app and 58 per cent more on average for downloading a music album.
The new enforcement of consumer guarantee laws will see a raft of claims the likes of which Apple has never seen before. It is now reasonable to assume that if the screen on your iPhone cracks within the warranty period, this would fall under a minor issue category and would need to be repaired by the Apple Store.
While the action from the ACCC in regards to enforcing the law in this matter is a step forward, Apple seems to have ‘got away with it’ with a slap on the wrist. What would have happened in this case to a smaller business with less powerful lawyers? The amount denied in refunds or replacement should total in the millions when all claims are reassessed.
What do you think? Are the ACCC and other government bodies powerless to control and reprimand the largest organisations operating in Australia? Has one of your claims been denied in the past by Apple? Will you think twice about buying an Apple product in the future?