It’s becoming increasingly difficult for tech companies to pull anything over on Australia. First, Adobe gets called out there for price-gouging its latest Adobe Creative Suite, and now regulators say Apple’s typical 12-month product warranty won’t fly in the Land Down Under.
In 2011, an Australian Consumer Law was passed to mandate a “reasonable” term of product warranties for high-ticket items, like televisions and other technologies. Although what constitutes “reasonable” wasn’t specifically detailed, Apple, to its credit, extended its one-year AppleCare policy covering repairs or replacements for iPhones, iPads and computers to two years over there. But — here’s where things get weird — the tech giant doesn’t seem to want to talk about it. In fact, says The Sydney Morning Herald, it actually told retail employees not to inform customers. The paper says it has seen a company email directing store workers not to discuss the details with shoppers.
Huh? What gives, Apple? This is a baffling scenario, particularly since other companies could have taken it as a PR opportunity. (“Hey, look! We’re changing our policy just for you, Aussies. Aren’t we swell?”) Now hiding these details comes off as strange and suspicious, and not just to us. Rod Stowe, Fair Trading Commissioner for the New South Wales government, calls the move “rather surprising and disingenuous.”
“To instruct your staff to not let people know is something that seems of quite concern, and I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to be upfront about it,” says Stowe. “Apple seems to be generally one of those businesses that is quite responsible to problems.” Perhaps, but don’t say that to Italy. Like in Australia, Italian law also requires companies to provide more warranty coverage. (In this case, for two years.) But Apple continued to charge people who extended their year of AppleCare, and was cited for not informing customers adequately about the warranty’s length of term. The Italian Antitrust Authority fined the company approximately $1.5 million (USD) for “unfair commercial practices.”
UPDATE: Edited for clarity. In Australia, a “reasonable” length of warranty wasn’t expressly defined.