Apple Criticized for iPhone Repair Practices

Dennis Faas's picture

China has launched an attack on the way Apple treats consumers through a government-controlled television station. The criticism appears to have sparked a coordinated social media campaign designed to embarrass the tech giant.

Apple was among the companies featured on this year's installment of the "Ides of March," an annual broadcast marking World Consumer Rights Day on China Central Television Station (CCTS).

CCTS is watched by hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens. Each year it examines shady practices by major businesses operating in the country. Volkswagen, which is expected to recall cars said to have a defective gearbox, was also recently profiled.

iPhone Case Loophole Could Hurt Consumers

The main complaint against Apple was that the firm offers customers fewer rights in China than in other countries. For example, it's alleged that when a Chinese customer's iPhone fails while the device is still under warranty, Apple replaces it with a refurbished handset but attaches the back casing from the owner's original phone.

If the owner wants a new back casing, it charges an extra 580 yuan (approx US$92).

It seems there's a reason for this bizarre policy, however. By keeping the original back casing, Apple is technically classed as having repaired rather than replaced the handset. That means it gets round local consumer laws that say if you replace a phone, the warranty period starts over again. (Source:

Just after the report aired, several Chinese celebrities posted anti-Apple messages on social media sites. Among those was Peter Ho, an actor and singer based in Taiwan. His message translated as:

"It turns out Apple played so many tricks on its after-sales service. As an Apple fan, I feel hurt. Do you think such policies will have been approved by Steve Jobs? How about the young people who sold a kidney just to get an iPhone? Apple bullies the consumers as it is a dominant player in the market!" (Source:

Singer Unintentionally Reveals Pre-Planned Post

Ho ended his message with the line "Distribute the message at around 8.20 pm." That's prompted speculation that he and other celebrities were given the content by an unknown source and asked to post it as if it was their own view.

If the celebrities were paid off to promote the message, it's not yet known who was behind the campaign or if they had any insider knowledge about the content of the TV program.

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