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Australia rules Apple misled customers about their rights under consumer law

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Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has ruled that Apple misled consumers into thinking they were entitled to less recourse under warranty than a new Australian consumer law provided for, the Sidney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday.

For one thing, Australian Consumer Law (ACL) guarantees have no set expiration date and may go beyond the two years offered by many companies. ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said:

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.

The ACCC told Apple that it violated the ACL when it told consumers

  • They were only entitled to a full refund if goods were returned within two weeks;
  • That it would only provide a refund or replacement if products were damaged within a year of purchase; T
  • hat it was not responsible for third-party (non-Apple) products sold through Apple stores;
  • and when it only offered a store credit rather than a full refund for faulty products.

As part of its restitution, Apple has promised the following:

  • To reassess all claims about faulty products purchased over the past two years and to provide consumers whatever they should have been legally entitled to (this begins Jan. 6 and Apple will assess old claims for the following 90 days).
  • Apple will soon publish a note on its website stating: "If you believe that you have been denied a statutory right or remedy by Apple in the past in relation to a product sold to you by Apple or did not pursue a warranty claim because of representations made to you by Apple, please contact Apple ... and your claim will be assessed."
  • Apple has promised to retrain staff and resellers over the next two years
  • Apple has promised to provide consumers with more information about their rights under Australian consumer laws, including stocking ACCC brochures about consumer rights in all stores.

The ACL went into effect in 2011.

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