Apple's Costly Mea Culpa for Australian iPad Owners

March 28, 2012
By: Michelle Amodio

Apple (News - Alert) is doling out refunds to purchasers of the iPad in Australia, as customers felt misled over some advertising in regards to the 4G bit.

Specifically, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) alleges the new tablet labeled “iPad Wi-Fi + 4G” misinforms consumers because it cannot connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia. The iPad can still access a connection, but 4G, not so much.

A hearing at the Federal Court in Melbourne granted a win for the ACCC, basically saying that Apple has to email its customers and offer refunds, all the while changing its advertising to let customers know that yes, the iPad can connect to “very fast” mobile networks, just not the 4G stuff as indicated in its marketing.

“It represents to Australian consumers that the product ‘iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G’ can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case,” the ACCC said.

Telstra (News - Alert) launched Australia's first 4G network in capital cities last year. An Apple spokeswoman confirmed in March that the new iPad did “not connect to Telstra 4G.”

Currently it only works as a 4G device if coupled with a Telstra mobile Wi-Fi device which costs $60 per month.

“At point of sale and in store, we make it very clear [the iPad] is not compatible with Australia's only 4G network,” said a Telestra spokesperson.

The ACCC cautioned before the iPad's release that “traders should be very careful about promoting the benefits of a good or service without adequately disclosing limitations.”

Apple is no stranger to litigations. Generally, their legal mishaps have mostly dealt with intellectual property disputes, antitrust claims, privacy issues, copyright and patent infringement.

Of course, if you haven’t tuned out the litigious news involving Apple, you’ll recall how most recently the computer behemoth was under fire for its iOS assembly labor practices in China.

The New York Times reported that workers in China who assemble iPhones, iPads and other devices work in pretty harsh conditions.

Specifically, The New York Times cites employees who work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. The paper also reports workers who claim they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk, as well as advocacy group reports that Apple's suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records and have little regard for worker health.

Apple CEO Tim Cook responded to the Times reports in an email to employees that was reported by 9to5Mac.

“As a company and as individuals, we are defined by our values. Unfortunately some people are questioning Apple's values today, and I'd like to address this with you directly,” Cook wrote.

“We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern. Any suggestion that we don't care is patently false and offensive to us. As you know better than anyone, accusations like these are contrary to our values. It's not who we are.”

Edited by Jennifer Russell