Apple warned by ComCom for misleading customers

One of the world‘s most recognisable brands has been ticked off by the Commerce Commission after it likely misled customers.

Photo: AFP

The Commission sent a warning letter to Apple, after an investigation found that the company had probably breached the Fair Trading Act.

Apple did that by telling customers that products were only covered by a guarantee for two years, by referring them exclusively to the manufacturer of non-Apple branded products and excluding Apple‘s liability for those products.

Commissioner Anna Rawlings said under the Consumer Guarantees Act, guarantees did not expire after a prescribed period of time.

“They apply for a reasonable period. What is reasonable depends on the nature of the goods, any statements made about the goods and how the consumer, in fact, uses the goods,” she said.

“Although businesses may form a view about how long a product should generally last, they must assess each reported fault on its own merits. They should not base decisions solely on how long a consumer has owned a product. The reasonable lifespan of a product will depend very much on what the product is.”

The Commission also said Apple was responsible, as a retailer, for all products it sold, even if it wasn‘t the manufacturer.

“It is natural that many retailers may wish to liaise with manufacturers to assess and remedy product defects, but they must not point blank refuse to address consumer complaints and refer consumers exclusively to manufacturers for attention,” Ms Rawlings said.

The Commission also warned Apple in relation to:

* Telling consumers that they must accept a defined number of replacement goods before an alternative remedy would be made available when the law imposes no such limits on available remedies.

* Excluding liability for consequential losses when consumers might be entitled to compensation for some losses of that kind under the law, depending on the circumstances.

* Providing conflicting information on Apple‘s website about whether spare parts and repairs would, or would not, be available for some products.

* Leading consumers to believe that their faulty Apple products were being replaced with new products when they were in fact supplied with re-manufactured products.