Apple forced to comply with Australian Consumer Law

Apple forced to comply with Australian Consumer Law

Summary: Misleading customers with limited refunds and warranties as well as refusing to help with non-Apple products are some of the concerns that prompted the ACCC to conduct an investigation into Apple's practices.


Apple must better comply with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) under a new court-enforceable undertaking that it has agreed to after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) conducted an investigation into its guarantees policies.

The ACCC conducted its investigation after becoming concerned that Apple was misleading customers on what consumer guarantee rights they have. These included telling customers that Apple is not required to provide refunds and/or replace or repair products, when these guarantees are covered under the ACL.

According to the ACCC, Apple staff may have also been telling customers that they are not entitled to refunds 14 days after purchase, or that they are only covered by a 12-month limited manufacturer's warranty. Under the ACL, consumers are always permitted a refund if there is a major problem with the product, and products sold are always automatically protected with a consumer guarantee.

"The ACCC was concerned that Apple was applying its own warranties and refund policies effectively to the exclusion of the consumer guarantees contained in the Australian Consumer Law," ACCC chair Rod Sims said in a statement.

"While voluntary or express warranties can provide services in addition to the consumer guarantee rights of the ACL, they cannot replace or remove those ACL guarantee rights."

Apple staff may also have been telling customers that they would have to refer to the manufacturer of non-Apple products that were faulty. This contravenes the ACL, whereby the retailer (Apple) cannot refuse to help the customer.

As part of the undertaking, Apple will additionally improve its training for all sales, management, and call centre staff members who deal with Australian customers, and maintain a website to outline differences between its warranty and ACL consumer guarantees.

Topic: Apple

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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  • Apple much improved on this

    AppleCare extended warranty was a ridiculously overpriced unnecessary item. Out of all the Macs used by me and my family and friends and the businesses that I have provided IT support to we have had very few failures. To pay $400 on the off chance of failure on every computer was ridiculous.

    Current experience though:

    iPhone 4 - 18 months old, on Optus Contract. No sound from music player or calls on internal speaker.

    Rang Optus: "Apple only gives 1 year warranty"

    Took the owner to the Apple store: "Yes book into the genius bar and we can definitely help you"
    Went back next day and told them the issue, they asked where it was bought, we said Optus. They said "Have you got it backed up?" then pulled out a replacement phone and printed a sheet to sign for the free replacement.

    They didn't ask for any paperwork. They didn't argue. They didn't worry about the cracked case due to being dropped (which arguably could have caused the problem). They just replaced it for free.

    So Optus gave wrong advice about the phone that was contracted to them. Apple accepted responsibility happily and fixed it.

    Same person bought a new iMac in a config that was only stocked by the Apple store, they bought it 1 week before the new model came out.

    A few months later the screen showed about 1/3 of the desktop then streaks all the way down.

    They booked into the genius bar and we went in.

    The Apple 'genius' (prob not really) took it out of the box. Turned it on - it showed streaks etc. So he said "That's a big job, so I'll just get my manager to approve the replacement and hand you to the sales team"

    They got a salesperson, matched the specs from that model to the current new model and produced a new machine from out the back in box.

    Handed it over - checked the original invoice - but only to get the number to save them a small amount of time in entering the details, because they had it in their system. So even without the invoice they would have replaced it.

    So a new computer about 30% faster - took about 15 mins. Congratulations on new machine and apologies for the time wasted from the Apple staff.

    So thoroughly impressed with their handling of in and out of warranty service on Apple product.

    I don't have experience of their handling of non-Apple product when faulty.

    And they seem to be less keen to push AppleCare which I am glad of. Even Harvey Norman are still pushing extended warranty but also with less conviction than before. They now take no for an answer first time.
  • Refusing to help with non-Apple products ????

    Why the hell should any company (not just Apple) spend any time and money supporting non-company products??

    The user should contact the manufacturer of a product, not some other company that has NOTHING to do with the product.
    • ummm...

      Australian Consumer *LAW* perhaps?
    • Where was that mentioned in the article?

      Or are there important details that were left out?
      John L. Ries
      • I'm guess you only read titles

        Because it is in the very 1st sentence.