What is Apple's warranty policy in Australia?

What is Apple's warranty policy in Australia?

Summary: Apple should scrap the so-called 'one-year warranty' policy in Australia and inform customers of what they are entitled to.

TOPICS: Apple, Legal, Australia

Over the weekend, Apple updated its internal policy, making it easier for retail shops and channel partners to process repairs for iPhones, iPads, and iMacs purchased within a 24-months period.

Sure sounds like Apple is finally changing its longstanding 12-month warranty policy to a 24-month one.

Well, not exactly.

ZDNet understands that despite its one-year warranty policy, Apple has been repairing out-of-warranty phones for free since the Australian Consumer Laws (ACL) changed in 2011. Under the ACL, consumers are given a basic level of guarantee for products, including electronic goods. Consumers, under their statutory rights, can have electronic products repaired even "after any manufacturer's voluntary or extended warranty has expired".

The catch is that this right only applies "for the amount of time that is reasonable to expect, given the cost and quality of the item".

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has previously said that it is reasonable for consumers to expect a mobile handset locked into a 24-month contract to work for the duration of the contract, but for items such as tablets, there is no hard and fast rule about how long manufacturers are responsible for repairs.

After pressures from the consumer watchdog, most telcos now offer 24-month warranty periods for all phones that are on a two-year contract. But despite honouring the ACL behind-the-scenes, Apple continues to only advertise a one-year warranty period for all its products.

"[Manufacturers] are allowed to offer whatever warranty periods they want, but what they offer doesn't affect the ACL," an ACCC spokesperson told ZDNet.

However, if you bring your faulty 13-month old iPhone into an Apple Store, the friendly staff will still action either a handset repair or replacement for you. But for the hapless chap that went out to buy a new phone without realising his bunged-up iPhone is covered under the ACL for repairs — well, that's too bad.

Apple does not do a great job in telling its customers about their legislated rights when it comes to "out of (Apple) warranty" iGoods. The idea of slapping a one-year warranty on a product that is essentially covered for two years is not only confusing, but somewhat misleading.

Even the EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding lashed out at Apple for not adequately informing consumers about their rights.

"Apple prominently advertised that its products come with a one-year manufacturer warranty, but failed to clearly indicate the consumers' automatic and free-of-cost entitlement to a minimum two-year guarantee under EU law," Reding said in a letter to EU ministers late last year. "These are unacceptable marketing practices."

It has to be noted that Apple does have information on its website about the ACL and what it means for its customers, but it's not something that can be found easily on its homepage. You cannot even find it when you click the "support" tab on the Apple Australia homepage. Not to mention the information is presented in a prolix manner (it lives under Hardware Warranties > Additional Legal Rights for Consumers).

It would be a much better customer experience for Apple to simply state that it will repair a faulty iPhone, iPad or iMac within two years of the purchase date. For a company that is built around so-called "customer experience", one would think it was a simple enough request.

But Apple can't be blamed entirely for this warranty quandary. Nothing it is doing is illegal, and the ACCC's "reasonable to expect" clause in the ACL is as a vague as the plot of Twilight.

As a first step, though, isn't it reasonable to expect technology vendors to be upfront about what rights and service their customers are entitled to?

Topics: Apple, Legal, Australia

Spandas Lui

About Spandas Lui

Spandas forayed into tech journalism in 2009 as a fresh university graduate spurring her passion for all things tech. Based in Australia, Spandas covers enterprise and business IT.

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  • why would anyone do such a thing like that??

    The Australian government.....
    The government agencies.....
    The Australian people....

    Do not really care too much about this issue because they feel they have never had it so easy.

    All accept you and me of course...
  • Is this specific to apple?

    What are other handset manufacturers doing?

    I wish we had such a law. Ours is simple in the UK;if it goes wrong in 6months it was sold as faulty and you have up to 5 years to claim on it... So long as you can prove it went wrong in that 6 month window.

    As I understand it, pretty much all electronics manufacturers give 1 year warranty. Is it the case that apple are behind, and everyone else is swapping out phones for free? Or are all the other OEMs doing the same thing?

    Sorry to play devil's advocate, just getting a bit bored of stories being stories because apple is in them. If I buy an xperia z in oz, and it won't turn on after 18 months will they swap it for free?

    I'm with you on warranties being important, especially given the cost of these devices; probably apple the most as online research has lead me to believe that iPhone 5 build quality isn't great, but it'd be good to see the top 5 smartphone makers policies so consumers can make a fair choice. If they are all the same, then if you lived near an apple store they'd probably get the legs on it due to the Genius Bar. If they're the only ones not covering after 12 months then it's a no brainer to go elsewhere.

    Does this law cover batteries? For example most devices have replaceable batteries when they reach the end of their life, but most apple products will one day stop working - iPods, iPads, iPhones and MacBooks all have soft-cell non serviceable batteries that are usually listed as 'consumable' under warranties.
  • Sigh

    In Australia, the ACCC have made it law since 1st January 2012.

    That ANY!!! product sold within Australia it being in a retail store or on-line (ebay etc) will have a 12 month warranty this means if a product fails in that 12 months then you can get a replacement, exchange product or money back by law.

    A company may extend this warranty further out if they wish to 2 3 4 years but it's up to the company.

    Also Apple doesn't do free warranty fix ups it only does the first fix up (of any kind) for free then it costs you money there after, as people I know have complained about this plus it's a 3 to 6 month turn around.

    Most of the network bought products aren't even serviced by apple but by the network which is why you even get a 24 month warranty on a phone.

    Also any company selling stuff with a sign saying 3 - 6 month warranty only or no exchange or returns are breaking the law as you still get a 12 month warranty as the ACCC laws over rule any of that stuff.
    Scott Connie
    • Don't know about that

      I've had a recurring issue with Apple products and they have repaired them each time, not just the first. What they don't do is provide a full warranty on the replaced part. So if a major component breaks after say 9 months, you effectively only get a 3 month warranty on it, which is rubbish. No doubt these cases can be fought and won, but consumers shouldn't have to.
      Fred Fredrickson
  • News = Apple = news

    The Dell website tells me that I get 1 year warranty on their notebooks. I need to pay extra for two or more years.

    On the HP website I discover that their all-in-ones also have a 1 year warranty.

    On the Toshiba site the same 1 year warranty is standard on their tablets.

    It seems no one is offering 2 years warranty yet somehow this is news because its about Apple.
    costa k