New Zealand Commerce Commission issues warning to Apple over consumer rights

“Apple Sales New Zealand has been issued a warning by the country’s Commerce Commission (ComCom), with the watchdog concerned the iPhone-maker may have misled consumers about their rights,” Asha McLean reports for ZDNet. “ComCom alleges Apple is ‘likely’ in breach of the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA), in particular regarding replacement products.”

“According to Commissioner Anna Rawlings, Apple ‘misled’ some customers into believing their products were only covered by consumer law for two years, even though the guarantees in the CGA do not expire after a legally prescribed period of time,” McLean reports. “‘They apply for a reasonable period. What is reasonable depends on the nature of the goods, any statements made about the goods, and how the consumer, in fact, uses the goods,’ Rawlings explained. ‘Although businesses may form a view about how long a product should generally last, they must assess each reported fault on its own merits. They should not base decisions solely on how long a consumer has owned a product. The reasonable lifespan of a product will depend very much on what the product is.'”

McLean reports, “The Silicon Valley giant has also been asked to address conflicting information on its website regarding spare parts and repairs, and to cease misleading consumers that their Apple products are being replaced with new products when they are instead supplied with re-manufactured ones.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Goods have to “last for a reasonable time” seems ill-defined and nebulous enough to guarantee litigation.

Only one thing here is guaranteed: Lawyers write hazy legislation that benefits lawyers.

12 Comments

  1. But corporate lawyers compose clear, unambiguous legislation for the legislator to benefit the corporation and the legislator, not generally the American people.

    1. Warranties are NOT paid for by the corporations, but by the consumer who PAYS for the product. That warranty is included in the price of the product the consumer buys. A reasonable time for coverage is calculated and an potential failure rate, based on previous experience, and repair cost or replacement rate is included in the price of the product.

      Extending the warranty period WILL increase the price the consumer pays for the product up front. It has to. Costs must be covered.

      This is the idiocy of having politicians or bureaucrats make such decisions on warranties. They have no clue on how they work, and who pays for them. They just SOUND nice to extend them for an arbitrary period they pull out of their socialist rear ends. The problem with that is that as products get older, the

      1. Right now the Labour Party is the party in power in New Zealand, elected by the people of New Zealand. True, it is a center left party.
        They should be allowed to elect a goverment which passes laws that they agree with and are willing to pay the price for. If they are happy with that balance, why do you criticize them?

      2. You have it exactly backwards. A written warranty does not grant the consumer any rights that he did not already have. Without the warranty, the manufacturer would be on the hook for all losses ever suffered by a consumer as a result of defects in design or assembly (but not for losses caused by misuse of the product or inevitable wear and tear). What the written warranty does is limit that preexisting liability in duration, magnitude, or both.

        Most US states allow well-drafted warranties almost an unrestricted ability to limit liability. For example, they can exonerate the manufacturer from any damages for defects that appear more than a arbitrary fixed period after the date of sale, such as two years. New Zealand apparently does not allow that. The manufacturer’s liability for defects must remain in force for a reasonable time, with that period determined by the nature and use of each individual product.

        In this case, it is Apple that is imposing an arbitrary period. The New Zealand authorities aren’t pulling anything out of their rear ends, socialist or otherwise, aside from insisting that a manufacturer cannot sell a product that fails within an unreasonably short time after purchase. If it fails, it must be replaced.

        You are obviously correct that the inability to limit its liability will cost Apple something, which it will probably pass through to its customers, but that is the cost of doing business in a country with strong consumer protection policies. Apple knew that when it chose to do business in New Zealand.

  2. If MDN had any information about lawsuits against Apple for breach of warranty in New Zealand, I believe they would have shared it. Perhaps New Zealanders are not as law suit crazy as Americans.

    1. Americans suing each other is right up there with the right to bare arms and shoot each other. It’s far more expensive to sue someone in NZ. You have to pay the lawyer regardless of whether you win or lose which means we very rarely sue other people or businesses.

  3. MDN: When I load this website, I often get an immediate warning that I have [imaginary] viruses on my computer. When this happens, I quit Safari with ⌥⌘Q then restart it while holding down the shift key.

    Please look into this.

  4. This is already the situation with Australia. I’ve been tracking Apple prices for years and we pay roughly a 2-3% penalty compared to exchange rate adjusted US prices and allowing for our GST.
    An example of its application is that it is considered reasonable to expect that an $800 smartphone sold on a 2 year contract should be defect free for at least that long. Even so a business can’t just wash their hands of responsibility a day later.
    Real world experience is that Apple Australia deals generously with its customers and they get rave reviews, incredible loyalty and an elevated market share here.

  5. MDN, perhaps you should read the legislation before making ignorant assumptions.
    The NZ law is similar to the Australian law concerning consumer rights. For example when a MBP model had faulty NVidia video chips installed under Australian law these could be return to apple for repair or replacement long after arbitrary time limit imposed by Apple where the part failure would be covered by their repair program.
    The law states that a product is covered by warranty for the serviceable life of that product. In the case of a computer, that is deemed to by up until the computer is no longer supported by the most recent Operating System.
    I had one of those MBP models but the video chip failure – confirmed by Apple as being one of those faulty chips – 12 months after the end of their “recall”.
    I chased Apple on this but they were dismissive of Australian law and their obligations under it and downright obstructionist in my enquries seeking a reasonable outcome. I could have chased Apple via the Australian Consumer & Competition Commision but my mother was dying at the time so my consumer rights weren’t a priority for me.
    I was pissed of at Apple about this flagrant disregard of consumer law and it is still irritating.

  6. Apple wants to project a consumer friendly and green friendly image, but the truth is somewhat different. They actively fight right to repair and increasingly ship sealed up products with planned obsolescence. They also have a heavily globalized supply chain with an ugly carbon footprint compared to more localized manufacture.

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