The New Zealand Commerce Commission today sent a warning to Apple over concerns that the company misled customers about their replacement rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act and Fair Trading Act, reports the New Zealand Herald.
According to the commission, Apple may have violated New Zealand consumer law by telling customers its products have a two year warranty and also referring customers who purchase non-Apple branded products from Apple to the manufacturer for warranty issues.
From an eight-page statement released by the Commerce Commission:
We consider that Apple is likely to be misleading consumers by trying to exclude its liability for non-Apple branded products. If this behaviour is continuing, we recommend you take immediate action to address our concerns and seek legal advice about complying with the Fair Trading Act."
The New Zealand Herald says the Commerce Commission began an investigation into Apple's practices in April 2016 after receiving complaints from consumers who sought repairs from Apple but were told that their products were covered by consumer law for just two years.
Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, there is no set two-year period after which it expires, with the act instead outlining a set of requirements for consumer devices regarding build quality (products must be free from defects).
According to Commissioner Anna Rawlings, businesses should not base warranty decisions in New Zealand "solely on how long a consumer has owned a product." Instead, the "reasonable lifespan" depends "very much on what that product is" and each fault must be assessed "on its own merits."
During the investigation, the commission also said that Apple is "likely to have misled" consumers by excluding liability for non-Apple products. Apple is responsible, says the commission, for "compliance with consumer guarantees applying to all products it sells, even if it is not the manufacturer."
There were also some issues discovered around the availability of spare parts and repairs after one New Zealand customer was told he could have a maximum of four replacements for a faulty product.
The commission says Apple made voluntary changes to address some of the concerns that were raised, including making it clear to Apple employees in New Zealand that consumer law rights are not bound by a set time period. The commission believes Apple will consider and fix the other issues that were raised during the investigation.