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Australia rebukes Apple for 'false or misleading representations'

Cupertino's Oz outpost falls foul of local warranty laws

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Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has slapped Apple and extracted an “enforceable undertaking” from the company that will result in fines – or worse – if the company continues to ignore its own warranty and return polices.

At issue are Apple's 12 month warranty and 14 day return policies, which weren't being applied consistently or were applied in ways that breach the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), the antipodean code describing how business has to deal with its customers. That code offers two-year warranties.

The ACCC, Australia's consumer watchdog, loves nothing more than catching a big brand cruelling punters. The Commission's chairman Rod Sims thundered that his outfit “was concerned that Apple was applying its own warranties and refund policies effectively to the exclusion of the consumer guarantees contained in the Australian Consumer Law.”

The ACCC's emission on the matter goes further, saying “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.”

Apple's 'fessed up and “acknowledged the ACCC's concerns, and that some of these representations to consumers may have contravened the ACL.”

The ACCC's remedy is an “enforceable undertaking” that sees Apple promise to fix things up for dudded customers, fix kit that breaks in the first two years of its life, train its staff so they get it right in future, erect a web page explaining its policies and hand out the ACCC's brochure explaining warranty rules in its shops. And yes, that sob you heard was Jony Ive's shock at having to besmirch his beautiful stores with a government brochure.

If Apple's found to breach the undertaking, a court can enforce the provisions mentioned above. It Cupertino keeps getting it wrong, the big stick comes out and fines are in prospect. ®

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