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Chinese consumers demand Apple's apology

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-03-31 07:27

BEIJING - The China Consumer's Association (CCA) has asked Apple Inc. to "sincerely apologize to Chinese consumers" and "thoroughly correct its problems," after the US firm took little action to address waves of criticism.

In a statement posted on the CCA's website, Apple Inc. was told to equalize the warranty periods in China compared with other countries. Buyers of iPads, after the company admitted the device is classifiable as a portable computer, are entitled to two-year after-sale service packages for its key components, said the statement.

Apple should inform consumers if refurbished parts are used when repairing broken devices, and repair costs should be counted accordingly, the statement said.

The CCA made clear its specific demands after Apple Inc. responded indifferently to consumers' repeated complaints despite intensive exposure in the Chinese media.

In a special program to mark the International Day for Protecting Consumers' Rights on March 15, national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) accused Apple of offering discriminatory after-sales services in China.

On the same day, the CCA unveiled a report detailing that complaints about after-sale service account for 25.6 percent of the total 2,170 complaints it has received about Apple products, seven percentage points higher than the averaged data for the home appliance sector.

The CCA said that, in 2012, it twice urged Apple to properly handle the complaints but only received half-hearted replies, with the real problems unsolved.

Even after the March 15 CCTV show, Apple released only a 200-character statement saying it is dedicated to making first-class products and attaches high importance to every consumer's ideas.

Netizens labeled it a "typical official reply full of empty talk."

Analysts said Apple arrogance is sustained by its strong market presence in China. Its innovative products and aggressive marketing strategy have made it fearless of consumers' frowns.

Su Haopeng, a law professor with the University of International Business and Economics, said it is the company's social responsibility to respect consumer rights, while it should not abuse its market predominance to hurt their interests.

"Apple Inc.'s unfair and unreasonable rules have infringed consumer's legitimate rights," he said.

Wang Huijuan, a lawyer with the Beijing Hualian Law Firm, said the government should raise the penalties for home appliance repair disputes, as the current fine of 30,000 yuan ($4,830) is too light to deter lawbreakers.

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