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Reports: Apple CEO Tim Cook Apologizes For China IPhone Warrant Policy

AppleCEO TimCook 040213

US technology giant Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has apologized to Chinese customers following more than two weeks of criticism in the government-run Chinese media over its local warranty policy for iPhones, media reports said Monday.

Cook reportedly revealed in a letter addressed to Chinese consumers, posted on Apple's China website, that the company would improve and revise its local warranty policy for iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S to make it smaller and simpler to understand as well as provide a direct online customer feedback link.

Cook noted that the improved warranty policy would offer full device replacement as usual in the first 15-day grace period. It will also offer brand new parts or brand new device replacement for the remainder of the one-year warranty period, with the warranty restarted for the new replacement device. The earlier policy called for replacement with refurbished parts or a refurbished device.

Cook has also said that Apple would strengthen supervision and training for the Apple Authorized Service Providers.

"We are aware that owing to insufficient external communication, some consider Apple's attitude to be arrogant, inattentive or indifferent to consumer feedback. We express our sincere apologies for causing consumers any misgivings or misunderstanding," Cook reportedly wrote in the letter.

China is the Cupertino, California-based company's second-largest, fastest-growing and most important markets, with Apple also being one of the most successful brands in China.

The Chinese media has been lambasting Apple over the past fortnight on its after-sales service coverage, alleging that Apple was not providing a one-year warranty for the new iPhones in the case of major faults.

Apple is said to be providing less warranty coverage in China compared to other countries. The company is also charged with being arrogant after the lack of response to customer feedbacks on the warranty issue.

In what is seen as a bizarre and unexpected attack on Apple, a much-watched annual program on the official broadcaster China Central Television or CCTV on World Consumer Rights Day on March 15 lambasted Apple's warranty policies and service practices in China. It also charged the American technology firm with treating Chinese consumers as second-class citizens.

Cook added in his letter, "We have always respected China in an unparalleled manner and Chinese consumers have always been our priority among priorities." He claimed that about 90 percent of consumers had been satisfied with its earlier repair policy.

The annual CCTV show targets foreign as well as Chinese consumer firms on consumer safety and rights. The Apple attack could also be seen as a prelude to pushing foreign firms out of the Chinese mobile-phone market. However, thousands of Chinese netizens have come to Apple's defense, while criticizing Chinese firms of being the ones that lack transparency and consumer trust.

AAPL closed Monday's regular trading session at $428.91, down $13.75 or 3.11%, on a volume of 13.92 million shares. In the past 52-week period, the stock has been trading in a broad range of $419.00 to $705.07.

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