Apple has responded to claims by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that its promotion of the ‘iPad with Wi-Fi + 4G’ in Australia is misleading by offering refunds to customers who think they were misled.
A report on theage.com.au says Apple “has offered to put corrective notices at the points of sale for the new tablet computer, saying that the product supports ultra-fast mobile broadband but is not compatible with Telstra’s long-term evolution for the fourth-generation network.”
However, speaking in Melbourne’s Federal Court this morning, Apple’s barrister, Paul Anastassiou, said the company would stop short of putting corrective stickers on the new iPad’s packaging as it would be “cumbersome”.
As we reported last night, the ACCC said in a statement that it was making the court application against Apple Pty Ltd and Apple Inc for alleged contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
“The ACCC alleges that Apple’s recent promotion of the new “iPad with WiFi + 4G” is misleading because it represents to Australian consumers that the product “iPad with WiFi + 4G” can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case,” it said. “Consumers who have purchased or are considering purchasing an “iPad with WiFi + 4G” should ensure that they have a proper understanding of the mobile data networks which this iPad can directly access by a SIM card.”
The ACCC is seeking final orders including injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising and refunds to consumers affected.
The Age reports that Anastassiou told the Federal Court that “ultimately at trial, it will be contested by Apple there are in Australia networks – that according to international definitions are 4G – are properly described as 4G… What Apple says is that other networks operated by Telstra are in fact properly described by international standards as 4G even though Telstra itself does not so describe them.”
Apple, he said, is also prepared to email customers to point out that the device was not compatible with the Telstra 4G network.
Barrister Colin Golvan SC, acting for the ACCC, said Apple did not have an iPad that would meet consumers’ requests to use the 4G network.
Telstra does have an LTE (Long Term Evolution) network in place, and the other telcos are actively working towards one, but Australians can’t use the 700MHz and 2100MHz bands that Apple uses in the new iPad. The former is used for analogue TV broadcasts in Australia and the latter is allocated to 3G. The 700MHz band is to be auctioned off towards the end of this year, and telcos will have access to it after analogue TV is switched off at the end of 2014.
The ACCC, The Age says, “wants Justice Mordy Bromberg to order Apple to publish corrective advertising within three days on its website and in 11 newspapers.
“It also wants to stop Apple using its model name ‘iPad with Wifi + 4G’, ‘unless and until the device under this name can, with a SIM car, connect to a 4G mobile network in Australia’.”
It says Apple should attach stickers to the iPad packaging saying that it is “not compatible with current Australia 4G networks.”