Apple Offers iPad Refunds to Australian Customers Misled about 4G

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Australian regulators had targeted Apple earlier today over the use of the term "4G" in advertising its new iPad.

The issue stems from Apple's use of "4G" in its marketing terms for the cellular-capable models of the new iPad, while 4G LTE compatibility is actually only offered in the United States and Canada due to differences in the frequency bands used for LTE in different countries.

ABC News reports that Apple is now offering refunds to Australians who purchased the new iPad and felt misled by the "4G" advertising.

The company says it will email purchasers offering a refund if they believe they have been misled. Clarifications will also be made at point of sale.

Beyond that, Apple has agreed to publish clarification that the new iPad's 4G is not compatible with the Telstra network, but did point out that "the device is compatible with other networks that by international standards are deemed 4G."

Top Rated Comments

retroneo Avatar
125 months ago
Could have sworn at least one Australian telecoms had an LTE network...
Telstra has one, but it's on 1800MHz. A dual mode 1800Mhz / 2300MHz TD-LTE network is under construction (Optus). A third 1800MHz LTE network is also in construction (Vodafone).

Telstra has also stated they may soon use 900MHz LTE. In addition, auctions for 2600MHz and 700MHz are to be held later this year. Asia Pacific 700MHz has a different band plan to the US - incompatible with both AT&T and Verizon 700MHz.

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Is it just me or do other Aussies find it stupid that Telstra - Australia's largest telecommunications company - is investing and implementing a different LTE frequency to what the rest of the world uses?

No country outside the US has used their heavily fragmented 700MHz band plan. Even the AT&T iPad can't use Verizon's LTE and vice versa!

In contrast, 1800MHz is currently used for LTE in Europe, Asia and Australia.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tokenuser Avatar
125 months ago
Can I please get a refund from the hard drive manufacturers who listened to their marketing departments instead of their engineering departments and sold me a 160GB hard drive that was metric instead of binary in sizing?

Note to the world: Australians aren't stupid, but does have a government that is concerned about consumer protection and enforces truth in advertising and clearly labeling products. That does not make it a nanny state, and companies are free to make a dollar or two, but not at the expense of ripping off the consumer. This consumer protection has been the cornerstone of one of the worlds most stable economies.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ddarko Avatar
125 months ago
Surely most people with some tech knowledge would know Apple's 4G didn't work outside the US.
Since when is the standard for whether an ad might cause confusion based on whether geeks know? And if it was widely understood that the iPad 4G only works on American and Canadian 4G networks, then why the heck should it be advertised as 4G in Australia? Because it can run on 4G LTE networks in two countries that are literally on the other side of the planet, it's ok to advertise it as 4G in Australia even though it doesn't run on Australia's 4G network? Huh? Maybe AT&T can start running iPad ads in America touting its hotspot capability because Verizon and carriers in China have enabled that feature, with the fine print that "We are working with Apple to enable this feature in the future, but we currently do not offer it" to clear up any consumer confusion.

Apple says that "iPad WiFi + 4G" isn't misleading because even though the iPad doesn't work on the 4G LTE network in Australia, it works on HSPA+ networks there that the ITU has ruled can be called 4G. Except that in Australia, as in many other countries outside the U.S., 4G = LTE. None of the Australian wireless carriers advertise or call their HSPA+ networks as 4G, as some US carriers do. Telstra, the Australian carrier that does have a 4G LTE network, advertises its HSPA+ network as the "Next G Network." None of the other carriers have tried to advertise its HSPA+ capable network as 4G. That clear and unmuddled understanding of 4G is the context within which Apple is advertising its iPad as "WiFi + 4G." Regardless of what the understanding of "4G" are in the US, it's not the same in Australia. It's fair and reasonable to ask Apple and any other company selling its wares in Australia to conform its marketing and ads to the practices and usages of the country. Regardless of how many people get refunds, the practice of calling the iPad in Australia 4G is confusing because it goes against the widespread and common understanding of the term there.

I don't think Apple is trying to mislead anyone deliberately - I think they're trying to make it clear that the iPad doesn't run on Australia's 4G LTE network. But even though their motive may be genuine and in good faith, the fact is they are trying to hoist onto the Australia market a usage of the term that isn't widespread in that country. I think the regulators there are completely in the right to require companies to localize their ads to the terminology as it's used in their country. I don't see why that's controversial and it's something that Apple already does with their other products. Case in point, go look at the iPhone 4s pages on Apple's Italian site. There's not a mention of Siri at all there because Siri doesn't work with the Italian language yet. Apple doesn't rely on fine print or an asterisk that says "Siri doesn't work with Italian yet" nor do they advertise Siri in Italy with the justification that "well, geeks would know that Siri only works with English, French, German and Japanese so it's fine to advertise Siri in Italy."
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
748s Avatar
125 months ago
Is it just me or do other Aussies find it stupid that Telstra - Australia's largest telecommunications company - is investing and implementing a different LTE frequency to what the rest of the world uses?

This is pure greed from Telstra, potentially forcing Aussie customers to adopt their own branded products to benefit from faster data speeds!

No greed, no Au carrier can use it.
In Australia 700MHz is used for analog TV.
700/2100MHz will be available after 2016 when analog TV is switched off.

USA & Canada are in the minority using 700/2100MHz.
Most of Europe and Asia are going with 900/1800MHz.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
slrandall Avatar
125 months ago
The number of people who actually get refunds will show what a non-issue this is for many.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rennir Avatar
125 months ago
I think this is more a matter of principle and advertising products without misleading names rather than a big deal that Australian consumers made.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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