Apple Faces Enhanced Legal Supervision in China
Tech giant Apple has not had an easy go of it over the last couple of years concerning their operations in China. Everyone remembers the ongoing headlines concerning Foxconn, the Chinese manufacturer of parts for iPhones, iPads, and iPods. There was the explosion at one of their factories that revealed unsafe working conditions, and the rumor of netting around buildings meant to catch would-be suicide jumpers from the workforce. More recently, however, the company has been in the news regarding disparity in their retail locations in China. It seems that the warranties the company is offering to Chinese consumers that purchase their products are subpar when compared to warranties provided for the same products in other countries. And after the hubbub in the Chinese media blasting Apple for their inconsistencies in this area, it seems the issue has reached a critical level, with authorities getting involved.
With the Chinese market for consumer goods growing by leaps and bounds, nearly every major industry is clamoring to find ways to get in on the action. Thanks to the high demand for Apple products across the globe, the company has had no trouble opening stores and gaining a following. And the popularity of their computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices has not been lost on media outlets, which have taken this opportunity to accuse Apple of “incomparable arrogance” in their dealings with Chinese consumers. Many have also called for a public apology (which CEO Tim Cook issued on Monday), as well as corrective measures to ensure that Apple customers in China receive fair treatment where product warranties are concerned.
But it has gone further than that. Authorities have found that Apple is not in compliance with the country’s policies concerning warranties for computers, which are required to include coverage for at least two years following the purchase date. As a result, they have declared that the technology superpower will have to submit to enhanced legal supervision until such time as they are deemed to be in compliance. According to a statement issued through the China Consumer’s Association (CCA), the company will have to bring warranty periods in China into alignment with those offered in other countries, as well as equalize repair costs and inform consumers of any repairs that include refurbished (as opposed to newly manufactured) parts. And they will have to extend warranties when parts or products are replaced, in keeping with Chinese law (something that the company has apparently neglected to do so far).
Of course, there is already speculation that Apple’s apology is mere lip service and that they have no intentions of changing their strategy in the Chinese market, which is only second to the U.S. in terms of Apple sales. They may simply rely on their popularity with consumers to ensure that their products continue to sell, despite warranty and replacement issues. Some have called on China to put a stop to the entry of products that don’t meet the country’s laws where these issues are concerned. But that also seems unlikely since Apple currently uses Chinese manufacturers to supply the parts for their many devices (providing jobs for the local population).
In the meantime, consumers could always purchase third party iPhone insurance brand protect your bubble coverage in order to ensure replacement. But the hope is that the pressure from media attention and legal supervision will prompt Apple to do the right thing for their customers in China and their brand image as a whole. Although they are at the pinnacle of their industry, no company is immune to the turning tide of public opinion.