Apple changes its UK terms of sale

The manufacturer is now explicitly liable for faulty or misdescribed goods, after concerns raised by the Office of Fair Trading prompted a revision of Apple's terms and conditions

Apple has changed its purchase terms and conditions in the UK to ensure the company is liable for faulty or misdescribed hardware and software, after the Office of Fair Trading raised concerns about terms in Apple's customer contracts.

The changes affect customers who buy from Apple and iTunes stores and download software from the web, according to the OFT, which said in a statement on Friday that Apple had agreed to the changes in order to make things clearer for its users.

"The contract or terms of use between a company and a consumer, whether they are found online or on paper, must be clear, fair and easy to understand," OFT legal director Jason Freeman said in the statement. "In particular, it is important that consumers are given clear and accurate information about their consumer rights in case things go wrong."

An OFT spokesperson told ZDNet UK on Friday that the changes were not prompted by complaints made to the OFT — the trading watchdog does not disclose such complaints to the public in any case — but instead came about because Apple had been selling goods in the UK using the same terms and conditions as it uses across other countries.

The new terms and conditions, now altered to reflect UK consumer-protection law, do not "exclude liability for faulty or misdescribed goods". They are also now consistent with consumer rights under the Distance Selling Regulations, which apply to sales made over the web or via mail order. One key part of those regulations is that buyers have a seven-day 'cooling-off' period in which they can cancel the transaction.

The altered terms and conditions now comply with rules requiring them to be "drafted in plain or intelligible language", and make it impossible for changes to be made to products and prices after the sale agreement is made.