Apple tweaks T&Cs for Blighty customers
Famed code of silence (somewhat) broken by OFT
Apple has agreed to rejig its terms and conditions to make them "clearer and fairer" for UK consumers, after the Office of Fair Trading raised concerns about them.
The OFT confirmed in a statement this morning that it had identified a number of areas where the Mac, iPod and iPhone vendor's contracts of agreement with its customers needed to be tweaked.
It said it had raised concerns under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulation 1999 (UTCCRs). Apple agreed with the OFT's findings and said it would revise its standard conditions.
The Cupertino-based firm said it would no longer exclude liability for faulty or mis-described goods. Apple added it would ensure its conditions were consistent with consumer rights under the Distance Selling Regulations, and that they would be drafted in plain and intelligible language.
It also said that the conditions would not allow changes to be made to products and prices after an agreement has been made.
"We have worked closely with Apple to secure these changes and we believe they will improve confidence and clarity for consumers."
The move comes a few months after Apple was accused of attempting to gag a traumatised iPod user from Liverpool, whose MP3 player burst into flames after being dropped.
The European Commission later probed an outbreak of flaming iPhone and iPod incidents across Europe. All of which prompted some observers to ponder whether Apple might consider lowering its famed code of silence over UK consumers. ®
Does this mean I can buy a tune on itunes and then return it within 7 days then?
The written warranty is only the promise of the retailer over and above the key part of their contract with you - the latter is implied by the the Sale of Goods Act. It gives you powerful rights if you've bought even a moderately costly item. And it doesn't just 'run out' after the 1 year warranty. This is the one really fascinating part of contract law - and not many people know about it.
Even if you sign in blood, as a consumer, something promising that you agree you have no rights post-warranty, that is normally what's called a 'void exclusion clause' - as is if the retailer attempts to tell you anything which might exclude your rights under SOGA - such as 'oh it's out of warranty'... IF you've not just bought a dead cheap item - it depends on the price. Consumer Direct are the ones to go to for advice on these things. There are incredibly powerful statutes protecting UK consumers, such as the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations - but not many folk know about them.
Good service in my experience
I give Apple good marks for service in Switzerland and England.
1. I misused a USB port on my PowerBook in the last month of its guarantee. No details, but I rather think it was my foolishness that did it and said so to the Apple people. They made no remark, simply replaced the whole mother board and charged me NOTHING.
2. With the device by now eighteen months old, no applicable guarantee, I got the oft reported cracked plastic case, where the small, raised notch on the lid touches the case when the lid is closed (I suspect I had been shutting it with a bit too much enthusiasm). Before I finished explaining, the technician told me they replace it gratis, no questions asked and that in one or two cases they had had to do this two or three times. (I note the absence of the offending notches on the new, white MacBooks)
Everyone I know with an Apple machine who has had to get some service (most have had no need) is content with it. So, perhaps most of the moaners are unlucky or just those kinds of people who seem always to have problems with things they buy, people they employ, jobs ....
So, I do not know about Apple's conditions in detail; but I am more than happy with their practice.
Suck on statute (and caselaw) Apple!
Honestly if Apple particularly were compelled by direct order from above, to respect the Sale Of Goods Act (SOGA), with customers en masse, they wouldn't know what had hit them. This is because their super-premium pricing makes them particularly vulnerable to claims under SOGA where due to product failure post-warranty, customers might well and rightly feel that one or two grand entitles them to five years or more worth of computer. As it stands that's what you're entitled to at these prices.
From the unwritten to the written policies, really it comes as no surprise that their Ts&Cs are mean as hell and in contravention of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. But I'm heartened to hear the OFT weren't going to overlook it. Consumer protection in the UK is actually awesome - but consumers aren't aware of their rights, and companies, even supposedly nice ones, such as Apple, or, say, John Lewis, take the piss completely. The latter all play a nasty game and it's called British Retail Today.
@ewan 3 - no, the Distance Selling Regulations specifically exclude goods where they're just made of data, e.g. digital downloads - PROVIDING they have been accurately described and so on (although the latter kind of thing would be covered by other statutes such as SOGA). So you can't send back that song you don't like I'm afraid. Have you tried listening on Spotify first?
The cooling off period and right to cancel do not apply to contracts for:
• goods made to the customer's specification;
• perishable goods (flowers, fresh food);
• CDs, DVDs, and tapes with software, audio or video if unsealed;
• newspapers and magazines;
• betting, gaming and lotteries