Apple apologises to Chinese consumers

US technology giant issues apology on website after state media campaign attacks firm’s warranty and repair policies.

Apple issues apology in China over service policies
Apple chief Tim Cook says the company is aware that some consider Apple's attitude to be arrogant [EPA]

Apple has issued an apology to Chinese consumers for warranty confusion after state media attacked its repair policies in a two-week-long campaign.

Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, apologised on Monday in a statement posted in Chinese to Apple’s website, saying the complaints had prompted “deep reflection” and persuaded the company of the need to revamp its repair policies, boost communication with Chinese consumers and strengthen oversight of authorised resellers.

State broadcaster CCTV and the ruling party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily had led the charge and portrayed Apple as the latest Western firm to exploit the Chinese consumer, although Chinese Apple fans mocked the attacks.

Apple is revising its warranties for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S and simplifying its explanation of warranties and ways for customers to provide feedback, Cook said in a letter on Apple’s China website.

‘Arrogant attitude’

“We are aware that owing to insufficient external communication, some consider Apple’s attitude to be arrogant, inattentive or indifferent to consumer feedback,” Cook said.

“We express our sincere apologies for causing consumers any misgivings or misunderstanding.”

The criticism of Apple began on March 15 with the broadcast of an annual show on China Central Television about consumer safety and rights.

The show assailed Apple for its after-service, including not offering new iPhones with a one-year warranty in the case of
major repairs.

Now Apple will replace iPhone 4 and 4S models purchased in China with new phones in the case of such repairs, along with a new one-year warranty, Cook said in his letter.

Cook said that Apple would provide simpler and clearer explanations of warranties on its website and allow customers to offer feedback directly on the site.

The company will explain the new warranty policy, he said.

The latest model, the iPhone 5, already carries a similar warranty to the new iPhone 4 and 4S coverage.

Apple’s iPhones, iPods and computers are considered aspirational products in China, which is one of the California-based company’s biggest and fastest-growing markets.

Attack targets

That kind of popularity makes foreign brands a target of attack in China.

Other successful foreign brands such as Yum Brands, which owns fast-food restaurant chain KFC, Wal-Mart Stores and Gucci have come under fire for various product and labour issues.

The March 15 CCTV show has become an annual ritual of targeting foreign and Chinese consumer firms.

But the show became the subject of online ridicule this year over claims the network paid celebrities to post micro-blog comments against Apple.

Thousands of Chinese Apple fans have come to the defence of of the US brand and criticised Chinese firms as being the ones that lack transparency and consumer trust.

Source: News Agencies