Apple Will Offer Refunds To 4G 'Misled' Customers, But ACCC Isn't Done Yet

While the ACCC's action against Apple isn't entirely over just yet, the first thing that Apple's stated — not all that surprisingly — is that it'll offer refunds to customers who bought the 3rd generation iPad under the assumption that it would work with Telstra's 4G service. Update: But it doesn't want to sticker iPad boxes, and is arguing that dual channel HSPA+ is indeed 4G. The case is still ongoing, but @ABCNews — the twitter account of the ABC News service — just tweeted the following:

#Breaking: Apple has offered to refund people who bought its latest iPad, which it admits is not compatible with @Telstra's 4G network

Not exactly a stunning legal ploy — Apple's refund policies allow for a 14-day refund anyway — but a fairly predictable one regardless.

Update: The Australian writes that Apple's arguing that it never claimed 4G Telstra compatibility, and that indeed the dual channel HSPA+ capabilities of the iPad would make it 4G regardless. It quotes Paul Anastassiou, Apple's legal counsel as stating that:

"At no point in any promotional material for which Apple was responsible has Apple said at any time that the new Apple device is compatible (with Telstra 4G). No such representation in our submission is conveyed by the use of the acronym 4G in the name of the device. Prior to the launch of the product there was significant press pointing out that the device is not compatible with the Telstra 4G LTE network."

By the sounds of it, the presiding judge, Mordy Bromberg isn't having much of the 4G definition debate; the report states that he views that it's "more relevant" what an ordinary consumer would see as being "4G".

Apple will send out emails to consumers to make plain the 4G capabilities of the iPad, but is resisting moves to force it to sticker products at this stage. The court resumes this afternoon to see if the ACCC and Apple have reached a consensus. [The Australian]

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Comments

    Sigh, more money uselessly wasted by the ACCC.

      Not really.

      Whilst not being strictly lied to, consumers won't understand that buying the new iPad won't get you greater speeds.

      When they're selling a device as 4G, which doesn't work as 4G in Aus (with the exception of H+, originally a 3G standard), it's misleading for consumers who could potentially use that information to decide whether to buy that or something else.

        HA. Great minds think alike?

      Not really. The average Joe is unlikely to understand. The actual definition for 4G doesnt even mention LTE, only LTE-A (or LTE-Advance).

      LTE is only realistically closer to 3.9G, its an american marketing term to determine LTE or Dual HSPA+ as 4G, when in reality they are not of the 4G standard. This confusion is both a marketing issue from the USA and partially the issue between WiMax and LTE becoming the dominant market standard in IT for Telecommunications.

      ^ Above is why the judge sees it as confusing for consumers - 4G isnt a clearly defined standard as yet because for the most part LTE-A remains undeployed world wide. ACCC has done the right thing here, even if a little predictable.

      It's misleading. Enough said.

      plus the fact that the ACCC can send Apple a bill for any expenses. just like they do to everyone else they take to court.

    "is that it’ll offer refunds to customers who bought the 3rd generation iPad under the assumption that it would work with Telstra’s 4G iPad."

    Slight typo there at the end :)

    Frankly, perhaps carriers should have pooled some resources and decided on an LTE standard frequency.

    Apple are hardly at fault for making it compatible with the largest LTE network in the world, only to find out after the fact that LTE isn't a standard frequency and most devices aren't compliant with Telstra's LTE 4G but are compatible with just about every other one.

    Thanks ACCC for blaming Apple when they bent to the whim of their largest user base.

      Todd: The telcos did - World wide, including Australia, they all want to use 700MHz spectrum.

      The problem is that in Australia it's currently assigned to the TV networks... In a few years, once all the Analogue stations are turned off, the Telcos may be able to bid for access to the 700MHz spectrum.

      That's assuming there's enough left after the Emergency Services have taken what they want from it...

      Todd, Australia is not the only country who can't get 4G on the iPad. Much of Europe including Germany wont get 4G on the iPad either.

    My laptop is 6G, because I say it is. Wanna buy it? What's that, it doesn't actually do 6G, because there is no 6G available...? That's OK, it's still 6G. SIX-G!! SIX-G!! SIX-G!! SIX-G!! SIX-G!! SIX-G!! SIX-G!!

    They state on their website that the iPad is only compatible with select 4G LTE providers an to contact your carrier for info.

      Todd, the law in Australia states that that this condition or exclusion must be as prominent in their advertising as the "4G" part of their brand - Every other retailer has to play by these rules, why does Apple think the rules don't apply to them?

        because Apple make the rules and if anyone tries to say that they make the rules, they will be sued for copyright infringement.

    Why don't Apple put a stick on there? It's not like they can't get a foxcon worker to spend all day every day applying them.

    I hardly think stickering is going to change the sales all that much anyway.. the main selling point for these new pads is the screen anyway.. not the 4G..

    Oh wow what did I say they would argue yesterday? and some how the Judge considers that because telstra CHOSE to only market their 4G as LTE, Apple is in the wrong? What a joke. ITU standards should be what counts and in reality NONE of the companies or networks should be allowed to use the 4G tag until they are using an LTE advanced network.

    It's a pretty clear case of being deliberately misleading.
    And calling "4G" an "acronym"? I thought lawyers were supposed to be precise or at least proficient with language. Perhaps this is one of the dummies, afterall, it does look like he's lost this one for them.

      Hmm, I always thought "4G" was an acronym for, you know, "4th Generation". Perhaps I'm wrong?

        acronyms = initials you can say; SCUBA, RADAR
        initialisms = initials you can't say; FBI, CEO, 3G, 4G

        themoreyouknow.jpg

    Scumbag ACCC: Wastes time pointing out Apple's new iPad is overhyped and incompatible with Australian standards, still allows mobile phone providers to advertise capped plans with $500 worth of phone calls for $29 that aren't capped, and don't include $500 worth of calls.

      It hasn't wasted time pointing out anything. It merely acted, and the overhyping is done by the media. We all know anything about Apple is going to be a hit bonanza. Go to their website, you'll see the Apple business is just one of many things they've released.

      Haven't they just put out a code of conduct that bans the use of the word "Cap"?

    Personally, I don't think Apple is at fault, I think its the telcos that are selling the contracts. Apple isnt selling the connection, just the device. Yes it is capable of 4G, but if Telstra/Optus etc cant provide the specific connection, then it falls to them to inform the customer that on their network it will only operate at 3G speeds.

    I wonder why would anyone purchase a 4G model given that the Data plans are highway robbery and most of us have a WiFi connection at home, at work, on the train, etc...

      Highway robbery?? $12 a month for 2 million sq km. coverage for whenever I'm not at work or home, or on the train which doesn't have wifi. 40c a day, buy one less poptart at kindy...

        2M sq km? 3G maybe, but you're wrong if you're talking 4G/LTE, Telstra currently covers major centres only which equates to very not much..

          3G and 4G data plans cost the same.

    4G issue Meh! Well covered in the media already. Anybody keen enough to get the new iPad already would be quite aware that it is not covered by Oz 4G. Also, buying ANY mobile device you have to check compatibility with local networks. Now, if it was called iPad 4G - that would be misleading.
    I'm way more worried about the heat build-up. Where is the action on that issue. I reckon my iPad is getting a little bit worse (hotter) every day. I might have to forego the beautiful screen and swap it for an iPad 2. Otherwise it will simply have to be a warranty case when/if it fails on me.

    APPLE CAN DO NO WRONG!!!!!

    Apple offered 1 month return guarantee for "antenna gated" iPhone 4.. so flawed that T-Life shops to date keep "educating" pensioners that apple is going to recall all iPhones because they are "deeply flawed". However, despite being , all it was the biggest selling phone of its time....Not many people actually accepted the offer of no questions asked refunds . .tiny upgrade iPhone 4S.. is still the largest selling model.. (has sold more than SGS2 world over) Its going to be the same story again... if apple offers refund.. it will be a big victory for "the android world" but in any case it is not going to dent the sales of iPad 1%. And no one is going to que up in front of Apple Stores to return their iPads coz the are not connecting to the 4G networks covering 99% of australian population by all the networks. I think ACCC is just stupid.

    4G is still in experimental state in australia... Telstra hasn't committed to long term plans for LTE in 1800. Other networks are still planning about how to launch 4G.. iPad is advertised that it will connect to LTE in compatible networks.. The australian website doesn't mention about LTE...

    Same as visual voicemail in iPhone. Was advertised in US promotional material but not mentioned in Australia.. Mebbe ACCC should sue Apple about visual voice mail next.

    I got my iPad on day 1, and everywhere that I saw it for sale then and since has gone to lengths to point out that the 4G feature is not compatible with Australian networks. This is such a beat up!

    I don't think the average consumer even understands what 4G is. Heck they're just starting to understand what 3G is.

    The people who do know what 4G is, are the ones who already know that the new iPad can't use 4G in Australia.

      Let me sum up the typical consumer's thought process.
      "4G? I know 3G. 4 is greater than 3. MUST BE BETTER!"

    I don't think it's Apple's fault that our mobile networks aren't up to snuff for what is otherwise globally accepted as 4G compatible. If they are falsely claiming that 4G speeds will be achievable on Australian networks (which I don't believe they're doing), then it's a different matter.
    Why does Australia always seem to be the country that tries to differentiate itself from the world on things such as technology standards and frequency bands? It's like some hipster kid that doesn't want to follow the mainstream.

      It's not globally accepted - they've got the same problem in europe (and pretty much anywhere but a couple of US networks). Carriers use whatever spectrum they can get, which is usually all over the place. 4G doesn't specify a particular frequency, that's up to the particular networks.

    My iPad box had a sticker stating network incompatibility. I don't know anyone that thought it would work given its been discussed online for a while. Consumers had the same issue with GSM not that long ago with dual and triple band phones. ACCC spends all this time chasing Apple, but when Telstra announced NextG as their new super 3G network a few weeks ago, they didn't blink an eye despite it being on a frequency that only 2 or 3 phones actually were compatible with at the time of launch.

    Also, someone really needs to do this for Australian companies.

      *replied to the wrong article tab

    All this has done now, is that Apple now will *not* rush out a product to Australia now. Typically we get screwed with releases of technology where they are delayed....for once here we got something before everyone else. After this junk, I *bet* you we get screwed with releases.

    Seen this coming when Telstra released the name of their new LTE network.

    Hmmm. Can I have the refund and keep the iPad? ;) I don't think that there would be many out there that bought it thinking that 4G was the main new feature.

    My understanding of the Trade Practices Act (Section 52, I think) is that to contravene the act it only has to be likely that someone will be misled. No-one actually has to have been misled. I think this is certainly the case. While I don't believe in this case that Apple has intentionally marketed it to mislead, I do believe that due to the fact that a consumer cannot use the products 4G functionality in any way in Australia certainly is likely to mislead someone.

    I would LOVE to know how many people actually bought the 'new' iPad specifically for the 4G feature within Australia? Surely anyone smart enough to know about 4G knew that the iPad wasn't compatible?

    iPad's aren't exactly sitting in boxes on shelves either, what is a sticker going to do? (I suppose they could have a 'Do Not Break This Seal If You Want To Use 4G'...

    This whole situation is just stupid and frustrating to watch....

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