Chinese watchdog group takes aim at Apple's repair policies

The China Consumers' Association said on Tuesday Apple's repair policies are unfair to consumers

Apple's repair policies have come under fire in China from a government funded consumer watchdog group, which has criticized the company for using refurbished parts to fix products.

The China Consumers' Association released on Tuesday an evaluation of Apple's repair policies, calling certain conditions "unfair", and stating in certain instances they had infringed on consumers' rights.

One of those policies include Apple stating that it would use new or refurbished parts when repairing products.

The watchdog group said this violated laws because consumers would be unaware if Apple used refurbished parts in the repair process. Under a three month warranty, Apple should always use new parts in its repairs, according to the group.

In addition, the group also said it was against the law for Apple to retain replaced parts as its own property when consumers had paid for the repair.

Apple could not be reached for comment.

Among the other criticisms, the watchdog group said Apple should be liable to compensate consumers for faulty repairs that lead to data loss. In certain conditions, the company should also compensate consumers if their iPhone is damaged while in transit for repairs.

Despite the evaluation, its unclear whether Apple will be forced to change its policies, said Zhao Zhanling, a legal expert on China's information technology law. China Consumers' Association has little regulatory authority, and has instead relied on media reports to pressure Apple into changing its policies, he said.

The watchdog group, however, made its report in cooperation with an enforcement campaign by China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), one of the country's major regulatory bodies. "This could mean SAIC will eventually take some action against Apple, but it's hard to say," Zhao said.

SAIC's campaign was started this year to correct contract terms that infringe on consumers' legal rights, the watchdog group said Tuesday.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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