12 Comments

Summary:

Open letters from the Apple CEO are few and far between, as are apologies. But from Tim Cook they come when he senses that public opinion is turning dangerously against the company — see also “Apple Maps.”

Tim Cook in January. He has made annual visits to China since becoming CEO. Credit: China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
photo: China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology

Turns out that a good way to get Apple CEO Tim Cook’s attention is a well-orchestrated media campaign against the company. More than a week after the first complaints about Apple’s customer service and repair policies hit the Chinese media, Cook has issued an apology and detailed response to those concerns.

On Monday, an open letter signed by Cook was posted to Apple’s website in China. In it, he apologizes for the company’s lack of communication and he promises changes. Here’s the (slightly rough) translation offered by Google:

In the past two weeks, we have received a lot of feedback about Apple in China repair and warranty policy. We are not only a profound reflection on these views, together with relevant departments to carefully study the “Three Guarantees”, and also look at our maintenance policy communication and combing our management specifications of Apple Authorized Service Provider. We are aware that, due to the lack of external communication in this process and lead to the speculation that Apple arrogance, do not care or do not attach importance to consumer feedback. We express our sincere apologies for any concerns or misunderstandings this gives consumers.

Cook’s letter lays out a change the company will make to its policies: the one-year warranty period for iPhone 4 and 4S will be reset if a major repair has been done or if the device is replaced. He also said that Apple has taken steps to clarify its warranty and repair rules with its authorized resellers in the China (i.e. not Apple Stores), and he explained Apple’s existing policy on iPad warranties (one year for minor components and two-year promise of replacement on major components).

The last part makes it seem like he’s not giving in on China’s top consumer watchdog group demand; that the company start offering two-year warranties for free on iPads, an increase from the company’s standard one-year warranty offered to almost all of its other customers.

The letter is long, but there’s only a very minor change. Following the ongoing campaign in China’s state-run media against Apple’s consumer policies, the true concession Apple is making here is the letter itself. Open letters from the Apple CEO are few and far between, as are apologies. But from Cook they come when he senses that public opinion is turning dangerously against the company — see also “Apple Maps.”

China is crucial to Apple’s future and the company and Cook are still figuring out how to do business there. As he put it in the (roughly translated) letter on Monday, “we also realize that operating in China, and communicate much we need to learn the place.”

Thumbnail image from Cook’s visit to China in January provided by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology

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  1. Richard Torcato Monday, April 1, 2013

    Tim Cook has become Apple’s chief apology officer.

  2. rob nienburg Monday, April 1, 2013

    Ice cream for the first blog that does more than google translate the apple.cn page. Come on surely you guys know somebody who speaks Chinese.

    1. Ice cream is reminiscent of yesterday’s promise of free travel on British Rail for the people that turned up with a snowball. Of course if you try and translate the chinese sound “ice cream” using Google translate it comes out as an English cricket term.

  3. Does that warranty apply to the Americas too for the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 where it will be reset?

  4. Tiptoe Tiptoe Tiptoe Tiptoe Josephina Monday, April 1, 2013

    You couldn’t find a single Chinese speaker to translate that before hitting the “Publish” button?

  5. Now that he’s saying that – to be honest Apple warranty and service are actually VERY BAD outside the USA.

    Here in Thailand there is no official Apple store, and while there are policies, the authorized resellers couldn’t care less.

    Tons of places sell Apple stuff as grey import, and those don’t provide any warranty. Then the authorized dealers get stuck with lots and lots of warranty claims that they didn’t get anything from, people having bought their gear from the grey importers.

    I showed my frazzled power adapter cable to the authorized dealer here in Hua Hin – her response, she’d have to send that to Apple in BKK, and it would take “a month to repair”. So I am without power adapter for a month? Yeah right. Not practical.

    I’ve also experienced some really bad service in Europe. Basically all places that don’t have an official Apple store.

    1. I should also say that that’s of course in total contrast to the USA, where warranty and service are grade A outstanding.

  6. China its jealous on Apple’s succes and it has to do of course political reasons.

  7. Video Tim Cook Apologizes for Chinese Warranties
    http://adf.ly/M5TpW

  8. Don Williams Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    “The last part makes it seem like he’s not giving in on Apple’s top consumer watchdog group demand; that the company start offering two-year warranties for free on iPads, an increase from the company’s standard one-year warranty offered to almost all of its other customers.”

    The above statement is patently false. Only in Europe, where the EU enforces ALL companies to give two-year warranties, does Apple offer them. Everywhere else, like here in Canada and the States, it is one-year warranties. China got the same treatment.

    1. Er, that should have said “China’s top consumer watchdog group demand.” It was an error that unfortunately changed the meaning of the sentence. What I intended it to say was that Apple wasn’t giving in and was keeping the same one-year warranty in China that it offers everywhere except the EU, where it’s required to give two-year warranties.

  9. One cannot ignore the Asian markets specially when the growth is coming out of North America. Wonder what steve would do in this case…

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