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Apple CEO caves to Chinese pressure

Media pressure.

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.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.