Apple continues to mislead about consumer rights

accc appleWhat have Apple and Johnny Depp got in common? Apparently a continuing disdain for Australian laws. Apple, it seems, continues to mislead customers about their rights under Australian consumer law. Or at least that’s what happened to me this week.

So I have a three-year-old Macbook Air. Very nice bit of kit but a couple of weeks ago the battery stopped charging. The Air would work with the power plugged in but the battery wouldn’t charge. I searched the net and did all the usual stuff, nothing worked. So I chatted with Apple support and they had me do all the usual stuff all over again. Nothing worked. The only solution was to get someone to look at it and to pay because the Air was out of warranty. I argued the toss on that point but got nowhere useful.

So I paid my money to get the computer looked at and the technicians found that the problem was a fault in the battery and, more importantly, the logic board which had failed. It would cost $1100 to fix. Well that’s not far off the cost of a new Macbook Air and so pretty unattractive. But I need the computer so…

Now being three years old meant the Air was outside warranty. I did some research and found that the ACCC had stomped hard on Apple some years ago for misleading consumers about their rights under Australian consumer law. Among other issues Apple were telling customers that they only had a one-year warranty instead of being covered for whatever period is reasonable given the cost and quality of what is being purchased. Apple were forced to publicly extend their warranty to two years, and more if necessary, publish an explanation on their website, and retrain their staff.

It seemed to me that getting more than three years out of a Macbook Air given its price and quality was not entirely unreasonable. I went into the Apple store and asked nicely, before buying a replacement, whether there was any chance Apple would view it the same way. So imagine my astonishment when the Apple sales-person said absolutely not, Apple products were covered only for 1 year. My, somewhat steely at this point, explanation that what was being said was in direct contravention of Australian consumer law and Apple’s own promises were met with a shrug.

Now I see three years as borderline even for a Macbook Air. I think they should last longer, but accept that stuff happens. So if they’d said ‘no’ on that basis I would have accepted the inevitable. But to be told ‘no’ on the basis that the computer was two years past the warranty in complete contravention of Apple’s assurances to the ACCC – well all that tells me is that Apple still doesn’t seem to get how Australian consumer protection laws work. It’s mind-boggling that Apple would have this wrong in the first place, let alone after having had the error of their ways pointed out to them.

Isn’t it nice to see American companies, and actors, taking Australia so seriously.

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