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Thursday, March 28, 2013, 04:43 pm PT (07:43 pm ET)

Chinese regulator: Consumers must be protected against Apple's Chinese warranty practices

A notice sent out by China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce on Thursday requested authorities to take action against Apple's reportedly harmful after-sales service, but offered no specifics as to what the company has done wrong or how to fix it.

China Apple Care

Apple's Chinese Apple Care webpage. | Source: Apple


The notice, calling for tighter supervision of Apple's dealings in China, was cited by the state-run China National Radio, reports Reuters, and appears to be part of a government led crusade against the Cupertino company.

CNR said the announcement was in direct response to "widespread reports" that Apple's warranty service is hurting Chinese consumers. According to the media outlet, these reports were first seen on March 15, the same day that state-run China Central Television attacked Apple in its annual "Consumer Rights Day" piece meant to expose the iPhone maker's bias "against Chinese consumers in its warranty and customer service policies."

Ultimately, the smear campaign backfired after a series of suspicious posts popped up on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. In the messages, a number of notable celebrities showed support for the broadcast, though one from actor Peter Ho included the phrase, "Need to send out at about 8:20 pm," suggesting that at least some of the anti-Apple rhetoric was premeditated as many posts hit Weibo at the specified time.

At issue is Apple's warranty practices in the country, which critics claim is inadequate compared to services offered elsewhere in the world. Some critics say the company offers shorter coverage periods in China, while others report broken devices are replaced by refurbished products instead of brand new units.

Apple countered the accusations last week, saying that its existing warranty policies were nearly the same worldwide, with deviations allowed for regional laws.