The Commerce Commission in New Zealand has issued a warning to Apple for misleading its customers over their replacement rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act and Fair Trading Act. The Commission says that Apple is breaching the consumer laws by telling its customers that it offers a two-year guarantee for its products, while for other non-branded Apple products, it is telling them to contact the respective OEM.
The Commerce Commission started investigating Apple after receiving complaints from consumers in April 2016 who were seeking a repair/replacement for their Apple products.
In the eight-page warning letter, the Commission said: “We consider that Apple is likely to be misleading consumers by trying to exclude its liability for non-Apple branded products. If this behaviour is continuing, we recommend you take immediate action to address our concerns and seek legal advice about complying with the Fair Trading Act.”
The Consumer Guarantees Act in New Zealand specifies that there is no set two-year guarantee for a device. Instead, the device must meet a set of requirements and it must be free of any manufacturing defect. Warranty decisions in New Zealand are not taken based on the duration the said product has been owned by the consumer but on its reasonable lifespan.
“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.”
For the issue where Apple avoided taking responsibility for the products manufactured by other OEMs but sold through it, the commission said that Apple must take responsibility for them since if it sells a product, it has to comply with the Consumer Guarantees Act even if it does not manufacture them.
The commission in its statement says that it found Apple providing conflicting information on spare parts availability and repairs along with making misleading statements for replacement products. The regulator does note that Apple cooperated with it during its investigation and even made voluntary changes to address concerns raised by it. This included informing its retail staff that the warranty of the consumer products sold is not time-bound.
[Viz NZ Herald]
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