Apple CEO caves to Chinese pressure

Media pressure.

New Statesman
Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photograph: Getty Images.

Apple chief executive Tim Cook has apologised to Chinese customers for its customer service practices and extended the warranty of any iPhone 4 or 4S repaired in 2012.

Cook admitted that a lack of external communication had led to a perception that Apple was "arrogant" and did not value consumer feedback.

Stressing Apple’s immense respect for China, Cook also said that the company had improved its repair policies and training for its service providers in the country and would make it easier for customers to provide feedback.

A show on China Central Television, telecasted last month, accused Apple of discriminating against Chinese customers with its after-sales service. Apple, however, denied that its warranties and customer service in China were similar it offered in other countries.

The Chinese quality inspection bureau said last week that Apple would face severe repercussions if it did not improve its warranties.

Cook wrote: “We recognise that some people may have viewed our lack of communication as arrogant, or as a sign that we didn’t care about or value their feedback. We sincerely apologise to our customers for any concern or confusion we may have caused.

“We recognise that we have much to learn about operating and communicating in China,” he added. “But we want to assure everyone that we bring the same deep commitment and passion to China as we do to any other part of the world.”

Apple claims that nearly 90 per cent of affected customers were satisfied with its repairs. The Chinese Consumers Association had claimed more than a quarter of its 2,170 complaints about Apple products related to after-sales care, reported the Financial Times.

In September 2012, Cook was forced to apologise for customers’ frustration with Apple’s new Maps application in the latest version of the iPhone’s software.

Meanwhile, shares of Apple declined by about 2 per cent to $434.21.