Apple CEO Tim Cook has published a letter today apologizing to consumers in China about the way the company has dealt with repair and warranty enquiries for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
It follows multiple reports published by state-backed newspaper The People’s Daily, which has blasted Apple’s policies in recent weeks following a critical TV show aired by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
Apple published a press release on the Chinese portal of its website addressing the issues, but this was then described as “empty and self-praising” by another article run by The People’s Daily.
One editorial from the publication, cited in a CNN report said: “If you insist on challenging Chinese customers’ love and patience, and continue to be heedless, then your business will eventually decline no matter how glamorous or successful your brand is.”
In today’s letter, the Apple CEO apologized “for any concerns or misunderstandings” that consumers felt during this period.
In addition, Cook outlined a number of changes to improve Apple’s repair policy, focusing almost solely on its rules surrounding the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.
Before, Apple would often repair a broken iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S with replacement parts, such as for the battery or camera module, and retain the original back case.
A quick look at today’s letter via Google Translate reveals the following passage, however:
“Therefore, since April 2013, Apple iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S service pack upgrade for all 1-year warranty on new equipment replacement parts and replacement date recalculated.”
That’s not particularly clear, but according to 9to5mac, it means that Apple is prepared to give consumers replacement devices provided they’re still within their 1-year warranty.
Although, it’s also worth noting that in a previous press release, Apple said its warranty policy in China was “more or less the same as in the U.S. and all over the world.”
Apple will either (1) repair the hardware defect at no charge, using new or refurbished replacement parts, (2) exchange the product with a product that is new or which has been manufactured from new or serviceable used parts and is at least functionally equivalent to the original product, or (3) refund the purchase price of the product.
In today’s letter, Cook has also promised to provide better information about its maintenance and warranty policy terms and conditions, so that consumers in China are clear on where they stand.
The company is also supplying its authorised service providers with new training materials regarding numerous Apple products, to ensure staff are clear on both its new and existing policies.
Apple is clearly trying to put the issue to bed. China is a huge market for the company and negative reportage on this sort of scale has inevitably put a black mark on its usually immaculate public perception.
In the days to come, we will no doubt see whether this is acceptable in the eyes of both the public and China’s state-run media industry.