CHOICE membership

Apple Service & Repair Issues

Mon 12 March: My Apple Watch developed a crack in the screen, so unnoticeable that 4 out of 5 friends surveyed found it hard to find initially. The physical crack prevented swipe right functionality, rendering the product unusable. Tried to book in online to an Apple Centre or repair centre, however no places available until Thur 15 March. Warranty runs out on 14 March!

Tue 13 March 2pm: Took it to Myer (place of purchase). Told by Myer Apple sales person that I should do a walk-in at the Apple Centre … they should “repair/replace under warranty as the fault is a single hairline crack and not a shatter”.

Tue 13 March 2:15pm: Initial Apple contact person at the Apple Centre asked if I had Apple Care as this would be covered by Apple Care otherwise I would have to pay costs irrespective of warranty. I did not have time to remonstrate with him to remind him that I should be well covered by standard Apple warranty and Aust. Consumer Law. Was ushered to the queue for repair assessment.

Tue 13 March 2:30 pm: 15 min pass while in queue (… I was wrong about not having time to remonstrate with the previous contact person. Berated myself for not multi-tasking.) Repair assessment person asked if I had an appointment; said I could make an appointment for Saturday. I reminded her that my warranty runs out tomorrow and needed to just have an initial brief assessment today. She told me to come first thing tomorrow at 9am and they should be able to squeeze me in.

Tue 13 March 2:40 pm: I returned to Myer to chance my luck at attempting to refund/exchange a faulty product under warranty. Myer rep told me that they were bound to Apple procedures and could not do a refund/exchange. I had to take it back to Apple.

Tue 13 March 3:15pm: I write this post sitting on a train frustrated with my experience.

Questions:

  1. Has anybody had a similar experience with Apple/Myer?
  2. Is the Myer rep correct is telling me Myer is absolved of responsibility in this situation?
  3. I believe the Apple Watch should be repaired free of change (or preferably exchanged for new as per another post in this forum), as the watch face cracked without any direct trauma (ie it was not dropped, mis-handled or abused. It was used in accordance with instructions/guidelines). Am I correct in this assumption that this should be repaired/replaced for free?
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From the ACL -
Approaching the retailer or manufacturer

The retailer who sold you the product or service cannot refuse to help you by sending you to the manufacturer or importer. You can approach the manufacturer or importer directly, however, you will only be entitled to recover costs from them, which include an amount for reduction in the product’s value and in some cases compensation for damages or loss. You cannot demand a repair, replacement or refund from the manufacturer.

Who to claim a remedy from
Products

You can claim a remedy from the retailer if the products do not meet any one or more of the consumer guarantees, with the exception of availability of spare parts and repair facilities.

The remedies you can seek from the retailer who sold you the product include a repair, replacement, or refund and in some cases compensation for damages and loss.

The retailer can’t refuse to help you by sending you to the manufacturer or importer.

Note that a Harvey Norman Franchisees was fined $52,000 for what superficially appears to be similar misrepresentation as well as four others http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-19/harvey-norman-franchisees-fined-misleading-customers-warranty/5462714 …A total of nine Harvey Norman franchisees have been fined for misleading customers since proceedings brought by the ACCC began in 2012, with a total of $234,000 in penalties.

If you are near the Myer you might wish to find a manager, review the HN cases with him and review ‘his’ possible liability for Myer fobbing you off.

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@ChiVe I completely agree with @TheBBG’s comments, but would add that manufacturer warranties are subordinate to statutory warranties as outlined in the ACL. None-the-less, you had been in twice to Myer within the manufacturer’s warranty period with Myer staff denying your rights to remedy under the ACL.

You may also remind the manager of Apple being forced by the ACCC to modify their warranties not too long ago in relation to the iPhones.

Finally, you might suggest that you are reporting the unfolding events to Choice, and if the manager does not respond satisfactorily to your warranty claim you will also be going to Fair Trading, and the ACCC to report on the situation.

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If you are a member of Choice I would also advise you to avail yourself of the Choice Help service. You can contact them via this web page:
https://www.choice.com.au/choice-help-form

Also make a complaint to your State’s Fair Trading Office and the ACCC (they may have more than a passing interest in this due to an older Enforceable Undertaking) as suggested by @meltam above, see this Choice article that includes the contact details:

Also some other useful Choice articles:

A handy pdf document of the ACL can be found here and page 19 of the document might be useful for you to print out and supply to Myer.

You may also be interested in the following article on the ACCC website regarding an Enforceable Undertaking entered into by Apple in 2013:

and the pdf of the actual undertaking:

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The saga continued this morning …

Wed 14 March 9:00am: Returned to Myer, fully armed (thank you @TheBBG, @meltam & @grahroll ). The Myer floor manager repeated the line used by the sales person yesterday; ie they could not assist me, they were not responsible and that I should take it to Apple. My comments regarding the retailers obligations under ACL, including the Harvey Norman case were not compelling enough for this resilient individual. I took down the managers name, documented my conversation and invoked my back up strategy. ie repair to the Apple Store to see what those Genius’ could do.

Wed 14 March 9:15am: At the Apple Store, the repair centre attendant clarified the appointment/booking situation for me. When the previous attendant mentioned to me yesterday to be there first thing in the morning, that is what they meant ie around 8:59am (and wait in line with all the other poor desperate sods who were told the same thing) … ie they could not guarantee me a meeting this morning, but I was more than welcome to wait. {Boring bits about having to wait at the “Genius Bar” for over half an hour, deleted}

Wed 14 March 9:50am: Cutting to the chase … I was seen by Alex, one of the techies. A quick examination by Alex, produced the following diagnosis … “it looks like a fine hairline crack, with no obvious sign of impact damage, abuse or misuse. Apple will do a “swap repaired” under warranty, with a new like-for-like watch. This should take approx. a week.”

After picking myself off of the floor, I asked Alex to repeat this for me. He was more than helpful and was even able to correctly quote ACL regarding the 2 year period of cover for Apple products purchased in Australia.

Wed 14 March 10:05am: Choice member ChiVe walked out of the Apple Centre pleasantly surprise by the Apple experience, his thoughts of retribution towards the Myer floor manager ameliorated, he had no qualm, no qualms at all. The day was still young, he treated himself to a large flat white and a chocolate brownie.

Once again … thank you @TheBBG, @meltam & @grahroll. I will follow this up in a couple of weeks time. All going well, I will not hesitate commending Apple for the service that I received and conversely excoriating Myer for their “anti-service”. Something for a Choice write-up in future potentially?

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Very happy for the result you achieved and congratulations for your persistence in the face of such adversity and seeming lack of principles of some Myer staff.

Still report Myer to the ACCC, they will be interested in their failure to respond. The fines can be substantial:

"What can’t a supplier say about
consumers’ rights?

Suppliers must be careful about what they
say to consumers and the wording of signs,
advertisements or any other documents.
A supplier must not tell a consumer that a
consumer guarantee:
• does not exist
• may be excluded; or
• may not have a particular effect.

The maximum civil penalty for providing false
or misleading information about the existence,
exclusion or effect of the consumer guarantees or
remedies is $1.1 million for a body corporate and
$220,000 for an individual. Criminal penalties for
the same amounts may also be imposed."

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Thanks for taking the time to provide the update @ChiVe. While disappointing to see Myer respond this way, at least Apple came through and delivered the right outcome. I’ve also shared your story with my colleagues.

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Thanks for the update and good you got the correct outcome from Apple, no thanks to Myer who has flaunted their obligation.

When you do that, do not ‘confuse’ the ACCC between Myer’s refusal to help contrary to their obligation and Apple’s repair. Focus on the issue w/Myer fobbing you off, not the product problem or Apple’s repair process.

We look forward to how that goes. I suspect at most it will be a formal letter to Myer to up their game unless there have been similar complaints against them and ‘the letter’ was already sent (not necessarily with Apple products), and Myer still is not responding; then they might be prosecuted.

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Its about helping the next poor soul as well …

Maybe here: https://www.accc.gov.au/contact-us/contact-the-accc/report-a-consumer-issue

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There is a possibility that the Manager was not following Myer policy/procedures, so going through the reporting process will not only hopefully result in the manager being made fully aware of his responsibilities viz-a-vis the ACL, but also encourage Myer to ensure that all managers are aware.

So you would possibly helping many, many, future shoppers. :triumph:

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I’m glad you found Apple cares about its customers. I have had nothing but good service from Apple and I am thrilled to pieces with them. I know some of their products seem more expensive than some of their competitors’ products - but I’ve gotten back the difference from all the help, advice, guidance and assistance they’ve provided me, over a period of (now) nearly 20 years.

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My memory may mis-serve me, but I seem to recall an issue in the last decade or so in which Myer or David Jones (or one of those other chains) got into big trouble with the ACCC for sending customers to the manufacturer.

They really have no excuse for not knowing the rights of their consumers, and I would strongly recommend telling your story to the ACCC.

(The previous case may also have involved Apple, which tends to be somewhat tetchy about supply chains and about who deals with its precious hardware.)

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It’s sagas like this that reveal how faulty our consumer law is. If you overstay a park you get an on the spot fine. Same for speeding.

When a retailer does not follow consumer law can you simply call a cop and wait for them to turn up? Of course not! But if you could and waited for 30 mins for a cop to turn up and record the event for possible prosecution, how less often would us poor consumers face such poor responses. Just look at the time and effort spent in this instance, and then to suggest the poor consumer invest even more time in taking it to the store manager, the ACCC and the local state consumer affairs office. Who has that much time to waste. For most other offences at law we rely on the support of someone who has the power to assist directly. Why should consumer law be any less, other than it serves big retailers to have it the way it is now. A pain the backside to seek remedy. So consumer law is not really law, it’s just a loosely followed guideline that may be observed, or may not, in which instance remedy is a civil matter that might result in an outcome, or might not.

All I can add is that I had a similar situation with The Goodguys and an Apple IPad with only weeks left in warranty when the screen colours went wonky. With a 50 km round trip to the retailer I was advised to go to Apple, unless I had purchased extended cover from Apple or The Goodguys warranty extension. So I drove the 100km round trip to Apple only to be told I had to book a service appointment. Ahhhh! After a 3 hour wait including remonstrations that was not an obvious and clearly evident requirement on the web pages of either business I got service. Another hour and they could offer me a replacement - none in stock for a current model! Ahhh! So what do you say. Yes, I could now seek costs and seek further remedy. And no doubt somewhere in the fine print Apple has an out.

Despite what consumer law might say over several recent experiences with electronic goods including laptops the retailers rely on passing the obligations back to the manufacturer or importer. Some at least offer a free pick up and return to your home. So the legally supported advice of returning a faulty item to the retailer is unreliable in observance.

Surely we need a simpler way of ensuring fair enforcement?

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The problem with the consumer law is that there is no definitive answer on what are reasonable exceptions of fault free life of a product is. They also know that even if their decision on an claim is disputed, they still don’t really need to follow through with any independent ruling for this individual claim. It also takes much time and effort to make a claim through State Agencies/Tribunals which may won’t do as the reward possible is less than the actual cost.

The retailers and manufacturers know this and will often dig their heals in and refuse to deal with out of manufacturer warranty periods, saying that at such time the customer takes on the full risk. But this should not be the case.

Examples like the Tataka airbags where in effect many vehicles (some manufactured in the early last decade) warranty on such products have been extended from say 3 years (which was the norm 15 years ago for new car warranty) to over 15 years due to a design/manufacturing fault associated with the airbags.

I have raised with Choice in the past that possibly more work should be done to determine what is considered, by a reasonable person, the expected life of products…including fault free periods. Such for common consumer products (white, electronics and other major purchases such as furniture, vehicles, caravans, water heating solar etc and common in Australian households) would allow consumers to challenge some of the nonsense coming from retailer and manufacturers. Such could also be used to dispute responses from retailers/manufacturers where products have been used normally and not abused.

Food for thought,

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Totally true, however for items still within the agreed 12 month or longer warranty period consumer law speaks very plainly. The retailer is the responsible person.

The Takata airbag issue is certainly different in that it creates an added safety hazard. Might failure of a percentage of air bags to inflate after 5 or more years have raised a similar response?

That the expert motorists clubs like the RACQ and NRMA did not lead the charge on Takata suggests that as consumers with cars, we should simply accept that airbags age and need relpacement before they become unreliable?

I was recently informed by a national auto service provider automotive tyre only have a safe life of 5 years, irrespective of use. Are we too hard on retailers and asking too much that they really only want the best for us? Just keep paying and trusting!

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I have also been impressed with the service from Apple, my home has many Apple products.
Only once was it not fully satisfying:
I bought a MacBook from the online store, it developed a major fault under warranty, I tried to take it back to my local Apple store but was advised it had to be returned to the online store (which I think is silly, and the store staff agreed). Apple did pay for all postage though which was excellent.

End result, brand new MacBook delivered.
The process could of been less messy with less phone calls needed.

I now purchase in store only.

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This practice has now stopped. Apple online purchases can now be taken to an Apple store to be fixed.

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I’ve had great experiences with Apple itself (not so their local agent in my regional centre… but as soon as the dingbats here send it on to Apple its great). My Apple watch 3 was a month or two out of warranty when it developed water damaged. Bear in mind, this is a watch marketed for use when swimming…
Apple replaced. Was impressed.

Had a warranty claim on a product purchased from Myer online late last year, a Tefal FryDelight air fryer. The coating on the pan began to disintegrate. Myer gave me a return shipping label, and had actually shipped the replacement to me before I had found a box big enough to put the original one in…
(Replacement has started to develop the same problem so it might be a known issue with that)

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The partner has an iPad5 that developed an intermittent charging fault after 2 1/2 years. The Apple Store checked it out and confirmed a hardware fault. The Apple warranty was 12 months and they apparently have a default position re the ACL that case dependent seems to give some discretion but ‘we’ were beyond that leeway. The ‘repair’ solution was $380. The staff at the Apple Store (Doncaster) were very good and when broaching the ACL they advised I should contact ‘legal’ to see if they would override and authorise the repair, and told me how.

Ringing the switchboard instead of ‘legal’ they routed us to a ‘case manager’ in New Zealand who knew nothing about the ACL, and did what amounted to a 2 hours song and dance of time wasting, bordering on being insulting although he was professional throughout.

Since the iPad was purchased at Myer that no longer sells Apple or electronics we decided to see if Apple would help via the ACL. I drafted a well documented letter explaining why we were approaching Apple not Myer and sent it off to the MD by email.

Not having any auto-receipt or acknowledge for the day I expected the email got blocked, but. A staff from the MD’s office rang from Singapore and went over the case, asked some questions about the basis of my ‘claims’, and over the next days rang multiple times; short story is he a did brilliant job arranging the repair. When I walked in to the agent with the unit they knew I was coming, all the ‘paperwork’ was in order, and no hassles. 3 days later a reman (‘repair’) was in my hands.

There are apparently some issues with the ACL getting a reman rather than a repair of the original unit re ongoing warranty but at the end of the day we are very happy how Apple stepped up and the outcome was 100% satisfactory.

I’ll give a +1 to Choice’s recent survey report on satisfaction with Apple service, although for that case manager in New Zealand, not so much.

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