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Apple CEO apologizes to China over warranties, offers fixes

Tim Cook apologizes to Chinese customers for a lack of communication and promises changes to its warranty service in the region.

Apple CEO Tim Cook
James Martin/CNET

Following weeks of scrutiny over its warranty policies in China, Apple now says it has improved services in the region.

That message came from the top, in an apology note from Apple CEO Tim Cook, posted in Chinese on Apple's Chinese site today.

In it, Cook apologized for a lack of communication on the matter, and said that the company is implementing improvements in three areas of its warranty policy and related services.

Those changes:

  • A new repair policy for the iPhone 4 and 4S that provides a new phone exchange or new parts replacement for a year after purchase, and extends warranties on those devices repaired within the last year.
  • New warranty explanation pages on Apple's Chinese site.
  • More training and policing of Apple Authorized Service Providers who are doing repairs.

The company also pointed to its online feedback form for anything that falls outside those changes.

The note comes after weeks of criticism of Apple's warranty practices in the region, most of which came from state-run media outlets. Those issues initially came about during a TV segment on state-run network China Central Television Station last month, which claimed Apple repaired only broken or otherwise faulty parts within its products for customers in China, versus providing new replacements in other countries.

In its initial online response to the matter, Apple said it highly respected China's customers and fully complied with local laws and regulations. Though when the company refused to do interviews or speak further on the matter, it was viewed as arrogance by local media.

The issue was also enough to pique the interest of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, which -- according to local a report on China National Radio's Web site -- last week began urging local authorities to increase supervision of Apple's policies.

This is Cook's second apology to customers since taking the reins as Apple's CEO in August 2011. Cook posted an apology note to Apple's site last September about the quality of its mapping service, which promised that fixes would be made.