Apple forced to comply with Australian Consumer Law

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.