Apple, Targeted By China Consumer Group, Offers Apology

Apple CEO Tim Cook has apologized for communicating poorly and made changes to iPhone and iPad service policies in China. 

Apple has offered an apology to customers on the home page of its site in China, and announced several changes to its repair policies.

The apology, signed by CEO Tim Cook, follows criticisms from the China Consumers' Association, a consumer-interest group that has accused Apple of treating Chinese customers differently from others around the world.

Apple offers a one-year warranty on the iPad, though Chinese law demands two-year warranties on major computer components. Apple gets around the law by not referring to the iPad as a portable computer, though in other regions—such as the European Union—Apple has honored local warranty rules that are stricter than its in-house policies, as Fortune magazine has pointed out.

"Apple Inc. was told to equalize the warranty periods in China compared with other countries," reported March 31. "Buyers of iPads, after the company admitted the device is classifiable as a portable computer, are entitled to two-year after-sale service packages for its key components."

Apple was also criticized for its supposed policy of repairing devices with used parts.

In his letter, Cook detailed Apple's policies regarding iPhone 5, 4S and 4 repairs—all receive new replacement parts and have a warranty of one year—and Apple's official repair and warranty policy. He added—according to a Google Translated version of the site—that Apple plans to "increase the intensity" of the supervision and training of its service providers and offered a link to Apple's feedback service.

He offered his thanks for the valuable feedback that's been provided to Apple and said that the company has "immense respect" for China and the Chinese people.

Cook's letter also clarifies that all iPad major components have a two-year warranty, while the accessories and batteries have a one-year warranty.

Complaints about the iPad's warranty period first received air time March 15—annual International Day for Protecting Consumers' Rights—during which China Central Television (CCTV), the world's largest network and one run by the Chinese government, said that Apple's after-sales services were discriminating against Chinese consumers.

While the gripe may be legitimate, the force behind it may be manipulated, according to reports.