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Govt. Watchdog Group Finds Apple Misled Aussies On Consumer Rights 85

Posted by samzenpus
from the long-term-fixing dept.
beaverdownunder writes "Apple has agreed to an agreement to ensure staff inform customers of rights under Australian consumer law. Despite the 2011 law requiring retailers to provide a refund option for faulty goods, and free repairs to items reasonably expected to still function properly (this part of the law is intentionally ambiguous), Apple steadfastly stuck to its AppleCare program, denying warranty repairs to units more than one year old (without the purchase of an extension) and only offering replacement or credit for DOA items. Apple has promised to compensate all Australian customers who were charged for repairs during the last two years, and make the terms of the law clear on the Australian Apple website. How this will affect company warranty policy is unclear — under the law, consumers could be entitled to repairs for the life of the product (barring damage, of course)."
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Govt. Watchdog Group Finds Apple Misled Aussies On Consumer Rights

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  • by Thanshin (1188877)

    It's cheaper for Apple to change that law than to provide repairs.
    It's more profitable for the lawmakers to change that law than to force Apple to provide repairs.

    Therefore, the law will be changed.

    Capitalist Oligarchy 101.

    • It's more profitable for the lawmakers to change that law than to force Apple to provide repairs.

      Yes. It is also easier for lawmakers/political elite to seem to be forced to change the law against their will in order to avoid political fallout. "We are just normalizing with internationaly recognized laws", Enter the TPP [startpage.com].

    • by gnoshi (314933) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:59AM (#45734367)

      Since this is just the latest in a sequence of run-ins for Apple with the Australian consumer watchdog, I doubt it.
      One of the things I like about living in Australia is the consumer protection law. Any phone you buy on a 2-year contract with a provider is required to have a 2 year warranty, thanks to the government consumer watchdog. Recently, another company was fined for lying to people about their rights. Displaying 'No exchanges or Refunds' sign is against the law, since you are legally obliged to provide exchanges or refunds if a product is defective, or does not do what it claims to do.

      The claim that 'the current law is, ironically, bad for consumers' is bullshit. It might be bad for the subset of consumers who buy products that work and who have no problems, if we assume that companies charge what they need to rather than the maximum the market will bear in the conditions. It is good for the subset of consumers who companies try to fuck when they sell unreliable crap.

      To quote the Consumer Affairs Victoria (Australia) site example:
      "Danny buys a plasma TV for $6000. It stops working after two years.
      The store says they will not provide a repair or replacement as the TV only had a 12-month manufacturer’s warranty. They tell Danny he should have bought an extended warranty, which would have given five years’ cover.
      However, it is reasonable for Danny to expect more than two years’ use from a $6000 TV. He is entitled to a repair, replacement or refund from the store."

      I agree with Consumer Affairs Victoria. A $6000 TV should work for more than two years.

      • by Thruen (753567)
        I suppose different people judge what's reasonable in a different way. I'm in the USA and I wish our laws were more about protecting consumers then corporations, but the warranty issue does feel like there's some trade-off. I'm a little unclear on the specifics of what the law requires them to provide, but in any case the same principle applies. If they're expecting to spend more fixing devices than they would be without it, it's reasonable to expect them to charge more for the devices in the first place.
        • by gnoshi (314933)

          I suppose different people judge what's reasonable in a different way. I'm in the USA and I wish our laws were more about protecting consumers then corporations, but the warranty issue does feel like there's some trade-off.

          I think there's always a trade-off. Requiring companies to repair their products for longer if they don't work will cost them more. It can also incentivize making products that fail less, since the outcome of failure is repair (a cost to the manufacturer) rather than re-purchase (income to the manufacturer). This trade-off extends to poor working conditions for low pay, conflict minerals, pollution, etc (of course I'm not saying you support any of these things)

          As much as I'd love for the result of things like this to be higher quality products for consumers that won't fail so quickly, I think it's more likely they'll just factor in the cost of replacing their current products when setting a price.

          You may be right: if a company has to factor in

      • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

        So basically Aussies pay for mandatory extended warranties on all products, then go boo hoo my stuff is expensive.

        • by gnoshi (314933)

          Yeah, that'd be clever except that Aussies also pay more for software, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who claimed a warranty on software.

    • by Static (1229)

      It's cheaper for Apple to change that law than to provide repairs.
      It's more profitable for the lawmakers to change that law than to force Apple to provide repairs.

      Therefore, the law will be changed.

      Capitalist Oligarchy 101.

      Apple is far from the only company affected by stronger consumer protection laws. I doubt they are even the largest company. And it is an area of law they cannot ignore because the regulator has teeth, which is what the top story is all about. Consumer advocate groups have been campaigning for a long time about these rights. If Apple tried to Make Them Go Away, they would find themselves in quite a lot more hot water.

      The correct solution, of course, is for them to make sure their products are actually made

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Not every country bends over backwards for corporations. Some countries actually fund government departments who's purpose is to sue corporations to uphold consumer protection laws.

    • Won't actually happen here. We are too small for them to bother.

      Our consumer protection laws are actually really quite strong.

  • by Camembert (2891457) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:22AM (#45734227)
    I have several Apple products and in general I like them. Still it is sad for such premium products that the maker has to be strongarmed into agreeing to local law. The same happened in Europe where (and I think it is reasonable) products such as laptops should have a 2 year guarantee. Perhaps not on Applecare level (which is really good, I had to use it once and was happy with the service quality - a technician came to my home to replace my 27" imac screen panel), but at least a normal guarantee should be expected.
    Of course Applecare becomes less attractive if it is just a one year extension and a higher service level. But frankly the products while well made are expensive enough to have the above mandatory local guarantee applied without hassle.
    • The end effect I can see of countries forcing long warranties on products is that Apple essentially bakes in Applecare to the price.

      There's no way a business can afford a longer warranty period without collecting for it somehow.

      Another possibility is that Apple would become more stingy with repair/replacement, which would be a shame as it's really nice to go in and have them say "well, this just isn;t working, have a new one".

      • by Jiro (131519) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:39AM (#45734281)

        If the price of the long warranty is equal to the cost of the warranty to Apple, they'll just bake it into the price. If the warranty is a high margin item whose standard retail price far exceeds the actual cost to Apple, Apple can't just raise the price by the standard retail price of the warranty--raising the price shifts the demand curve and reduces the total number of Apple products sold (something that does not happen if the warranty is sold at the same retail price but as an optional item). Apple would instead be forced to raise the price by a smaller amount that is closer to the actual cost of the warranty, so as not to reduce sales too much.

        Imagine that they were selling iPads but had a deal where you paid an extra million dollars to get them gift-wrapped. If the government forced them to gift-wrap every iPad, they could not raise the price by a million dollars.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          raising the price shifts the demand curve and reduces the total number of Apple products sold

          Raising the price has no effect on the demand curve. It just changes were the supply and demand curves cross. Luckily for Apple, every Apple buyer I know is very price insensitive. Demand is inelastic for Apple products.

        • by pgpalmer (2015142)

          Considering that a major selling point for the iPad Air is that it's slightly thinner, I wouldn't put it past them to add gift-wrapping as a standard feature on their products.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by moronoxyd (1000371)

        There's no way a business can afford a longer warranty period without collecting for it somehow.

        Well, they could build their products to last at least 2 years, that should drastically reduce the number of repairs/replacements needed... but I know, that's just a fantasy.

        • by drsmithy (35869)

          They already build their products to last at least 2 years, otherwise they wouldn't have been offering extended warranties that cover out to 2 years.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            So there shouldn't be a problem then. All the cry and no real problem. Their extended warranty is just a money grab. If you wan't to sell on markets that require two year warranty just do it, unless your product is crap. That's why the law is there, to protect consumers from the worst crap. The same consumers wanted those laws. I live in such country, and I tell you I really, really, really like my consumer protection laws. They protect ME. It might cost more, but i'm willing to pay. Also it cost's way less

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Most manufacturers of expensive, premium products offer a longer than mandatory warranty. 8 years on a car, 5 years on my Panasonic TV, 3 years on my NEC laptop. One year says "we don't think it will even last the legal minimum 2 years" to me.

              Of course Apple products are not cheap crap, they just want to gouge you for an extended warranty.

            • by drsmithy (35869)

              Most manufacturers of expensive, premium products offer a longer than mandatory warranty. 8 years on a car, 5 years on my Panasonic TV, 3 years on my NEC laptop. One year says "we don't think it will even last the legal minimum 2 years" to me.
              Actually I have found the complete opposite to be true. Generally speaking, the more "premium" the product, the shorter the warranty.

              Exhibit A: Swiss watches.

              Fundamentally, however, this has nothing to do with "warranty" - at least not in a country with proper consume

      • There's no way a business can afford a longer warranty period...

        Certainly not when they deliberatly build in obsolescence [wikipedia.org] so your forced to throw away/consume more - increase profits vs deplete more natural resources. Longer warrenty periods by law would go a long way to reign in companies balancing act - how short can they push a products life without overtly harming the brand. Force them to increase product quality (or at least remove the cheap gimmicks [ifixit.com] they use to sabotage their own products after a short period).

        • by tlambert (566799)

          There's no way a business can afford a longer warranty period...

          Certainly not when they deliberatly build in obsolescence [wikipedia.org] so your forced to throw away/consume more - increase profits vs deplete more natural resources.

          That's BS. My iPhone battery has lasted 6 years so far. The battery charge lasts 3 days to a week, depending on my call volume.

          Are you maybe loading crApps on it that consume a lot of battery for no reason? Even with a lot of cycles, the iFixit article is pretty crappy in its estimates of charge cycles, in my experience (760+ charges so far). Apples not going to guarantee this level of performance, but my experience is that others get similar numbers.

          • My wife has had the top edge power button on her iPhone4 die 3 times now, and each time Apple wanted £119 to replace the unit - she now doesn't have an iPhone and won't ever have an iPhone again.

          • by puto (533470)
            I work for ATT and you either got an iphone made by the hand of god himself, or you are lying. Or you make 2 1 minute calls a day. One of our biggest complaints when I get customers escalated to me is that the phone is only a year old and the batter does not keep a charge. I seriously doubt a six year old iphone is that marvelous. Of course a six year old iphone did not have all the newer technology that sucks battery, so you might have a shred of truth, but Apple is the king of planned obsolescence.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Sorry but have to call bullshit on that.

          Apple has a replacement program for the batteries, and for a long time customers you actually got a device swap, and the old device gets rebuild as a service part. Given the tools and equipment required to pull the device apart thats a not bad approach to start out with. It took them years, but they went form a globally centralised repair strategy, to a regional repair strategy, and they finally managed to get the disassembly/reassembly rigs down to a price point tha

      • In the EU warranty is 2 years by law, and Apple sticked to it if you "complained" but did the same thing as in Australia: thy misslead customers to believe that warranty was only one year.
        All industry, all laptop manufactors give minimum 2 years warranty or a significantly higher guaranty.
        If companies like Leveno, HP, IBM, Dell etc. can give two or more years without noticeable pricing problems then Apple surely can as well.

        • In the EU warranty is 2 years by law, and Apple sticked to it if you "complained" but did the same thing as in Australia: thy misslead customers to believe that warranty was only one year.

          You are saying that, but it's not true. Both in the EU (most of the EU, some countries are different), and Australia, there is nothing in any law that says two years. It says "reasonable time".

          Importantly, by using the word "warranty" you are just confusing things. There are two totally separate things: One is warranty. The manufacturer, or anyone else, gives you entirely voluntary some kind of warranty (obviously the warranty influences what I buy, but there is no law whatsoever that forces them). The o

          • by mrbester (200927)

            The EU directive (that has been ratified into local law by most countries) varies according to the type of item, but it does indeed state two years for electronic devices such as phones (white goods get more), after which the onus is on the consumer to prove a manufacturing fault and usually the most you can expect is a repair or replacement. If the item in question is no longer made then you might get an equivalent value *at time of sale adjusted for inflation / RPI* item.

            The reason Apple is getting told

            • When claiming under manufacturer's warranty your first recourse is the place you bought it from and *they* have to go through the hassle of fighting with the manufacturer (though PC World tried to dodge that when I had a faulty Transformer). However, the seller has to fulfill the conditions to the buyer then and there, making it like a charge back on a card.

              If you buy an Apple product in the UK, you have about the same rights both under manufacturer's warranty and statutory rights for six months. The next six months the manufacturer's warranty is better for you, and from then on you only have statutory rights.

              As long as you are protected by both, you have the choice to claim either against the seller or the manufacturer, whatever suits you better. Neither of them has the right to pass you on to the other.

              And no, there is no manufacturer's warranty codifi

          • Dell isn't always the seller as there are commercial resellers and outlets that stock Dell equipment - PC World for instance.

          • Incorrect. For specific goods, such as phones, 2 years IS specified.

          • In the EU the law says: "two years", since minimum a decade, and before that in germany the law was liek that since minimum 30 years.

          • The manufacturer, or anyone else, gives you entirely voluntary some kind of warranty (obviously the warranty influences what I buy, but there is no law whatsoever that forces them).

            Well then I missunderstood the english terms warranty and guaranty.

            In germany a "guaranty" is voluntary, and must excede the minimum the law demands, obvisouly.

            The other german term is "gewÃhrleistung", which seems to be "guarantee" in english ... this is the time you have to replace/repair your product by law (which is two

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Or offer higher quality, better tested products... Offering a long warranty isn't going to cost anywhere near as much if the failure rate is extremely low.

      • by WillKemp (1338605) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:46AM (#45734521) Homepage

        The end effect I can see of countries forcing long warranties on products [......]

        They're not forcing long warranties on products. The law merely requires that a good should be of merchantable quality and fit for purpose - anything else is essentially fraud anyway.

        Another possibility is that Apple would become more stingy with repair/replacement, which would be a shame as it's really nice to go in and have them say "well, this just isn;t working, have a new one".

        They're not being generous, it's what Australian law requires them to do.

      • by Mr0bvious (968303)

        There's no way a business can afford a longer warranty period without collecting for it somehow.

        Huh? What a load of nonsense. Are you claiming that Apple would not be profitable if they offered a longer warranty period? If so, your perception needs some adjustment.

      • by drsmithy (35869)

        This has nothing to do with warranties.

        This is about requiring manufacturers to take responsibility for selling faulty products.

        If someone sells me thousands of dollars worth of electronics and it fails after 12 months (or even a few years) of normal use, they've sold me a faulty product and should either repair or replace it. Even you free market extremists should be able to get your heads around that.

        I've pulled the "Consumer Protection Laws" card a couple of times already in the last few years, each tim

        • This is about requiring manufacturers to take responsibility for selling faulty products.

          See, you are mixing it up, like so many do. Manufacturers don't sell you goods. Retailers sell goods. Apple manufactures goods and gives warranties. There are no laws that say anything about the warranties that a manufacturer should give. Various retailers sell goods made by Apple and many others. Sometimes Apple is itself a retailer, selling products made by Apple and others. The _retailer_ is responsible for selling faulty products.

          • So you're telling me the manufacturer give the items to the sellers for free? Because otherwise they would be selling crappy stuff, to the retailer...
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        The end effect I can see of countries forcing long warranties on products is that Apple essentially bakes in Applecare to the price.

        There's no way a business can afford a longer warranty period without collecting for it somehow.

        Another possibility is that Apple would become more stingy with repair/replacement, which would be a shame as it's really nice to go in and have them say "well, this just isn;t working, have a new one".

        Actually, that's already what they do.

        If you count the cost of AppleCare into the

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          It's not an extended warranty, it is the minimum product quality required by law. If Apple can't reliably build to that standard then they have lost the right to sell goods here.

    • I have several Apple products and in general I like them. Still it is sad for such premium products that the maker has to be strongarmed into agreeing to local law.

      Thankfully, with the ugly exception of worldwide tax avoidance, it's only in the USA that Apple appears to be above and beyond the law. Because you love them so much, this genuinely makes you sad?

      • I have several Apple products and in general I like them. Still it is sad for such premium products that the maker has to be strongarmed into agreeing to local law.

        Thankfully, with the ugly exception of worldwide tax avoidance, it's only in the USA that Apple appears to be above and beyond the law. Because you love them so much, this genuinely makes you sad?

        BTW I am European. "Sad" is perhaps a strong word, but yes, in general my satisfaction is pretty high (App Store and all!) so while they do a lot of things right in my experience, it is irritating that they do this so obviously wrong.

        • BTW I am European. "Sad" is perhaps a strong word, but yes, in general my satisfaction is pretty high (App Store and all!) so while they do a lot of things right in my experience, it is irritating that they do this so obviously wrong.

          My apologies, I misread your post and made myself seem a little bit dafter than usual. I mistakenly believed it made you sad that Apple were being strong-armed into following local laws, rather than sad that they had to be forced to comply with local laws. Hence my rather unfounded sarcasm in the previous post. My bad.

    • Still it is sad for such premium products that the maker has to be strongarmed into agreeing to local law.

      F-That Mate, there can be no exceptions just because your a mega corporation. You don't like the local laws, minimum wage, environmental or employee protections [slashdot.org], do not operate in that locality - your not welcome as a company.

      Most Corporations are almost always looking to freeload to pad their bottom line. I.E. externalize the negatives [wikipedia.org] so that the rest of us and our children have to pay the deficit one way or the other. Given the ease with whch they can buy their politicians, they usually get away with

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Apple has agreed to an agreement...

    /. editors, you've been putting it off all these years, but please shoot yourselves now.

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