Chinese consumer associations fight over Apple's overbearing clauses

Several consumer associations in different parts of China are jointly criticizing Apple's maintenance terms, including the use of spare parts, the ownership of old spare parts, and compensation for repairs, as these clauses are deemed unfair to consumers in the territory.
Written by Cyrus Lee, Contributor on

According to local newspaper the Beijing News, the China Consumers Association -- a government funded consumer watchdog group -- last week  called on its arms in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Jiangsu and Shandong to look into the issues regarding Apple’s maintenance raised by many Chinese consumers, among which they found at least five “unfairness” terms.

One of the repair clauses requires customers to allow Apple to use refurbished parts to fix products, and deem the old spare parts to be owned by Apple. The Association said the terms are in violation of the “Three Guarantees to Consumers” stipulated in China, which requires Apple to always use brand-new parts for repair when products are returned with the warranty period. It added that if consumers have paid for services after the conclusion of the warranty period, they are entitled to decide who should keep the replaced parts.

Another Apple clause indicated that the company is only responsible for the cost of repairs if damage is caused while the product is being repaired, and it will assume responsibility for damage or loss of data, procedures, or removable storage media. The consumer watchdog group said Apple has limited the scope and amount of the repair compensation and even exempts the responsibility of operators, which “should be invalid provisions”.

The group added that Apple should be held accountable for data losses in cases where it occurs as a result of botched repairs. Current policies have freed its authorized maintenance centers from accountability.

The Association also criticized other maintenance clauses, including damages due to transport reasons will not enjoy free repair, and failure to take products deemed as a waiver of ownership. The latter was even suspected as illegal seizure of property of the consumers, commented the group.

Apple didn’t comment on these accusations so far today.

According to local reports on Thursday, some local Chinese Industrial and Commercial Bureaus have initiated investigations on the matter.

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