Although Apple products have steadily gained popularity among Chinese consumers, the company has recently been singled out by a Chinese consumer quality watchdog group over the perceived unfairness of its repair and return policies.In an online statement released earlier this month, the China Consumers’ Association detailed five clauses in Apple’s repair policies that it believes are “unfair.”
Topping the list was a provision that allows Apple to use either new or refurbished parts when fixing a product. Another provision allows Apple to keep any parts that it replaces while repairing a damaged product.
The association said the rules contradict Chinese regulations that require repair companies to use brand-new components to repair products that are returned with the warranty period.
The association added that if consumers have paid for services after the conclusion of the warranty period, they should have the right to decide who can keep the replaced parts.
The group said Apple should be held accountable for data losses that occur as a result of botched repairs. The company’s current policies free its authorized maintenance centers from accountability, the group said.
Apple has not yet commented on the accusations.
“As a multinational corporation, Apple should not act against China’s regulations,” said Wang Jiajie, vice director of the group, based in north China’s city of Tianjin.
The city’s online customer complaint center has received 256 complaints about Apple products so far this year, most of which center around after-sales services, according to statistics from the center.
“The repair fees are too high. Changing his keyboard cost my friend 2,300 yuan (about 365 U.S. dollars),” said Internet user “Kingofxiong” on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site.
Some netizens have suggested that consumers should take note of a Republic of Korea (ROK) legal case that forced the company to change its policies last year.
Apple was pressured to modify the terms of its service in the ROK last year after a Korean customer sued the company for replacing her defective iPhone with a refurbished phone, rather than a brand-new phone, in return policies in response to consumer complaints.
Wang said that if negotiations with Apple don’t pan out, the association will help consumers take Apple to court and coordinate with related departments, including industrial and commercial authorities, to conduct targeted moves.
China is Apple’s second-largest market after the United States.