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Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Apple Forced To Improve Its Consumer Guarantees In Australia

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Apple following an investigation into Apple?s consumer guarantees policies and practices, and representations about consumers' rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACCC was concerned that Apple had made a number of false or misleading representations to a number of consumers regarding their consumer guarantee rights, including that Apple was not required to provide a refund, replacement or repair to consumers in circumstances where these remedies were required by the consumer guarantees in the ACL.

The ACCC was concerned that on occasions these representations may have arisen from Apple staff and representatives misapplying Apple's policies, including its 14 day return policy and its 12 month limited manufacturer's warranty. The ACCC was also concerned that Apple staff were directing consumers with faulty non-Apple manufactured products purchased from Apple, to the manufacturer for resolution of the consumer's concerns.

Apple has since acknowledged the ACCC's concerns, and that some of these representations to consumers may have contravened the ACL. Apple has worked with the ACCC to resolve these concerns, and has now committed to taking a number of compliance measures.

In the undertaking Apple has publicly acknowledged that, without limiting consumers' rights, Apple will provide its own remedies equivalent to those remedies in the consumer guarantee provisions of the ACL at any time within 24 months of the date of purchase.

To avoid any doubt, Apple has also acknowledged that the Australian Consumer Law may provide for remedies beyond 24 months for a number of its products.

"The ACL consumer guarantees have no set expiry date. The guarantees apply for the amount of time that it is reasonable to expect given the cost and quality of the item or any representations made about the item," Mr Sims said.

In addition, the undertaking requires Apple to:

not make representations to consumers which the ACCC was concerned were contrary to the ACL;
continue to offer a consumer redress program in which consumers potentially affected by the alleged conduct can go to Apple to have their claims re-assessed by Apple in accordance with the ACL;
continue to implement an Apple program to improve ACL compliance which includes improved training for Apple sales staff and management staff and all Apple call centre representatives who have contact with Australian consumers;
continue to monitor and review its ACL compliance going forward to ensure the conduct of concern to the ACCC does not occur again;
maintain a webpage aimed at providing information and clarifying the differences between the coverage provided by the ACL and Apple's voluntary limited manufacturer?s warranty; a'd
continue to make available in its retail stores in Australia copies of the ACCC's "Repair, Replace, Refund" brochure.

Products affected by Apple's policies and practices included:

Apple iPods, iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, iMacs and peripherals; non-Apple manufactured products such as headphones and printers; and products and software available for purchase on Apple?s iTunes and App stores.

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