Apple CEO Apologizes to Chinese Customers for Poor Warranty Support
Faced with withering criticism leveled by Chinese media outlets at Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) over its warranty policies and customer support, chief executive Tim Cook apologized and posted a letter on the company’s website in China in which he pledged to improve service for Chinese customers.
Media outlets such as China Central Television, bolstered by posts online from celebrities, have been bashing Apple recently for what they claim is unfair warranty and repair procedures for Chinese customers. The reports suggested that Apple provides customers in other countries with better service than it offers in China, pointing out, by example, that the company replaces faulty smartphones in the United States with new devices but only offers repaired phones or recycled components in China.
At first, Apple defended itself by clarifying its warranty policy on its Chinese website with the notation that it repairs phones with new components but retains the original case, affirming that its 90-day guarantee exceeds the 30 days required by Chinese law, and stating that it applies its warranties relatively equally throughout the world.
But yesterday, Cook went a step farther, issuing a letter of apology and promising that Apple will upgrade its iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S repair policy for Chinese customers, will clearly post a statement of its repair and warranty policy on its Chinese website, supply better training for its service providers in China and offer new replacement devices for users with Apple’s one-year warranty plan instead of only replacing faulty parts as was previously done.
Some suggested that Cook’s open letter was prompted by concerns that the disapproval over Apple’s warranty policies cloaked the Chinese government’s real intention to discredit the company while encouraging domestic smartphone development. Certainly, China is a key growth market for Apple, so there may be more than a grain of truth here. For example, last December Apple disclosed that it had sold more than 2 million iPhone 5 smartphones in China since the unit’s launch there on Dec. 14, shattering its previous sales records. Overall, the Chinese market produced nearly $24 billion in sales for Apple in 2012 and the vendor is said to be working on a carrier deal with China Mobile, the country’s largest carrier with some 700 million subscribers, that could explode its reach in the market.
Here’s the full text of Cook’s letter (translated from Chinese, I'm sure, which would explain the oddly worded sentences and sentence fragments):
"To our Chinese consumers: In the past two weeks, we have received a lot of feedback about Apple in China repair and warranty policy. We are not only a profound reflection on these views, together with relevant departments to carefully study the 'Three Guarantees,' and also look at our maintenance policy communication and combing our management specifications of Apple Authorized Service Provider. We are aware that, due to the lack of external communication in this process and lead to the speculation that Apple arrogance, do not care or do not attach importance to consumer feedback. We express our sincere apologies for any concerns or misunderstandings this gives consumers.
"In order to further improve the level of service, we are implementing the following four major adjustments:
- Improved iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S repair policy
- Provide a concise and clear on the website of the official Apple repair and warranty policy statement
- Increase the intensity of the supervision and training of Apple Authorized Service Provider
- Related issues to ensure that consumers can easily contact Apple Feedback Service
"At the same time, we also realize that operating in China, and communicate much we need to learn the place. Here, we assure you, Apple for the commitment and enthusiasm indistinguishable from other countries. Bring the best user experience for consumers and satisfactory service is our ideals, our commitment, and it has been deeply rooted in Apple’s corporate culture. We will make unremitting efforts to achieve this goal.
"iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S repair policy improvements are as follows:
So far, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S repair this in one of three ways: as from the purchase date of 15 days found the problem, we will be entitled to a refund or replacement for consumers recalculated 1 year warranty period iPhone; 15 days after discovery problem, Apple will replace the part depending, such as camera modules or batteries; replacement parts also cannot quickly repaired the iPhone, Apple will provide consumers with a part reassembled new parts, retaining only the consumers existing iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S back cover. Nearly 90% of customers expressed satisfaction with our repair services, and consumer satisfaction is the most important criterion for Apple to measure its own success. But others suggested that part of the re-assembly of repair almost replace the machine, so the direct replacement of a device will be more beneficial to consumers. 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. Consumer iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider has been part of the re-assembly kit maintenance, we will replace them as whole and for maintenance after the iPhone recalculated from the date of repair year warranty. Apple’s warranty system has been updated for the information and, therefore, affected consumers do not need to take any additional action.
"Now, all consumers can see on our site clear and comprehensive maintenance and warranty policy terms and conditions.
"We are pleased to provide consumers with information who wish to learn more about the after-sales service. For example, we have been to provide 2 year warranty for the MacBook Air and Mac computer motherboards and other major components. Likewise, the the iPad main components has been entitled to a 2-year warranty period, and other components for 1 year warranty.
"We realize that our site before this is not clearly stated policy. Hope the following will answer all the questions about Apple provides services.
"Apple is to make greater efforts to ensure that Apple Authorized Service Provider to follow our policies, and make every effort to provide consumers with the highest quality service.
"Week since March 18, 2013, we made a new training materials for all Apple Authorized Service Provider to ensure that each staff provide services for Apple products is not only familiar with our policies, but also to grasp three guarantees “provisions and related policies. The same time, we have taken the initiative through face-to-face meetings and other forms of verification and to ensure that each Apple Authorized Service Provider have opened training courses to update the knowledge of the staff for the maintenance and warranty policies. We will make unremitting efforts and continuous monitoring of the performance of the Apple Authorized Service Provider to ensure that consumers can get the highest quality service.
"Now, the feedback service-related issue is also very convenient. As the consumers of the services provided by any Apple Store retail store or an Apple authorized service provider doubt, to Welcome www.apple.com.cn/support/service/feedback/ directly get in touch with us. Our goal is to consumers where to buy Apple products or receive services, users can enjoy world-class experience. Heartfelt thank you to give us valuable feedback, we always harbor immense respect to China, the Chinese consumer is always the top priority of our hearts.