Some weeks ago I was in the Apple store and the person who was next to me asked about having a Belkin screen protector (sold and installed by Apple) replaced under warranty as it had cracked. There was no damage to the phone, the screen crack was the only damage.
The Apple representative said that the person would have to take it up directly with Belkin, as Apple do not handle any issues with the Belkin screen protectors. When I chimed in and informed the rep that according to the ACL, the retailer was responsible for dealing with warranty, they said that they weren’t aware of that; their training was to refer warranty matters to Belkin. The person with the screen protector issue said that Apple should be the ones dealing with Belkin, and Apple should replace the screen protector as it was clear that the phone had not been knocked or anything else which would cause the screen to crack. The Apple rep was intransigent about having the issue dealt with then and there and offered to supply the contact information for Belkin.
The person next to me left without having the matter resolved.
This exchage got me wondering about whether Apple had fully comprehended their obligations under the ACL and had just not passed this down to all staff; or was it their policy to avoid their obligations whenever they could get away with it?
Non–Apple branded products purchased from Apple are also eligible for coverage under Australian consumer Law, but are not covered by the Apple Limited Warranty, the AppleCare Protection Plan, and AppleCare+.
While well informed consumers know what this means, it could well be misconstrued at store level. Scope for misinterpretation if one reads the linked guidance to consumers. Apple also knows where not complying can lead.
Aside from being an Apple product owner my iPhone has a glass type screen protector. I’ve also had polymer alternatives. When they do their job the protectors can scratch, chip or crack.
But of course. But who is going to enforce the ACL if a company just decides to direct a customer with a problem accessory to the maker?
I did say ‘practical’. Want to go off to the courts over a phone accessory worth a few dollars?
No, but in my experience, threaten them with a complaint to consumer affairs and they will come to the party pretty quickly when they realise that dealing with a complaint will “cost” them more than remedying the matter in store.
In my experience, a company that couldn’t care less about changing their view about what and what they are not responsible for, will shrug off that threat. Consumer affairs? CAT? ACCC? None of them are going to act on your behalf to make any business do what they don’t want to do.
Experiences do differ.
Sharing the details can show others how to approach an issue and succeed. If one is struggling to make progress there are others in the community willing to provide support and suggested actions.
Successes we’ve shared include:
NBN directly contacted to remedy a substandard HFC installation,
RSP/NBN with weak signal on Fixed Wireless install,
New ceiling fan we’d purchased when unboxed by sparky found to contain damaged parts - retailer initially refused to remedy.
LG repairing twice failed Dishwasher controller at no cost.
Apple replacing an iPad which developed a screen image colour defect.
Retailer/FitBit replacing a product which would fail to charge/hold charge.
Perhaps it is down to how a consumer approaches the problem and retailer. All coming to this forum are welcome to share their lived experiences of seeking remedy. Successful and not so.
The respective State/Territory administrative tribunals responsible for supporting consumers seeking remedy according to the ACL and other legislation seem to be very busy. One the NSW CAT held 93,324 hearings in 2022-23. The majority (75.9%) of these were Consumer and Commercial related. 4 out of every 5 were reported as finalised in the same period.
It depends on how much pressure is applied and how and the degree to which the problem is the result of a pervasive culture of poor customer service. Larger organisations are rarely monolithic, they can show different behaviour at different levels or locations or over different issues.