The new iPad was first sold in Australia last March 16 and as expected, throngs of people dashed to the nearest Apple stores to get it. Apple boasted of the iPad’s new and impressive 4G system on their website and practically every other medium of online marketing available. However, when Australians started trying to connect to 4G networks using the new iPad, they got disappointing results – it turns out, the new iPad’s 4G capability just isn’t compatible with Australia’s existing 4G network.
In light of this, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took immediate action, stating that it would pursue injunctions, fines and other remedies against Apple for apparently misleading the public about their product’s capability. According to the BBC a full trial will be held in May, but as of now Apple has decided to offer refunds to customers in Australia who may have felt misled about the new iPad’s 4G capabilities. ABC News reports that the company has stated that it will email purchasers and offer a refund if they believe they were misled, and clarifications would also be made at the point of sale.
According to Macrumors’ reports, the ACCC has pointed out that the problem stemmed from Apple’s use of the term “4G”. While the iPad is 4G LTE compatible, its compatibility is only limited to United States and Canada due to differences in frequency bands for LTE used in different countries. The Guardian states that “Australia does have 4G service on the Telstra network but the new iPad connects to 4G on the 700MHz and 2100MHz frequencies”. Australia’s current 4G network uses the 1800MHz frequency.
The ACCC has alleged that Apple’s advertising of the new iPad has broken four sections of Australian consumer law and has brought the case to court. At a preliminary hearing, Apple’s lawyers argued that the company never specified the iPad could connect to Telstra’s network, and that the device is compatible with other networks that by international standards are considered 4G. The ACCC fired back, stating that they had expressed their concerns the day before the product was launched, and so the company already had knowledge that the device would not connect to Australia’s 4G network.
Macrumors states that “Apple has added fine print in several places on its website to clarify that LTE connectivity is not available in most countries”, but the ACCC feels this is insufficient, insisting on corrective advertising for the iPad and the company’s cooperation to stop using the “4G” term when marketing the iPad in countries where the device is incompatible with the LTE network. In response, Apple has agreed to publish a clarification that the new iPad is not compatible with the Telstra network, but it will not stop stating that the product supports ultra fast mobile networks, nor will it agree to the ACCC’s proposal to force the company to place stickers on the iPad’s packaging.
According to news.com, both parties still have not agreed on how information should be conveyed to consumers, and settlements are still ongoing.
The Guardian reports that currently, the new iPad has not been advertised by Australian carriers Telstra and Optus as 4G compatible, but as the "new iPad on our data + tablet bundle" and “Wi-fi and 3G device”, respectively.
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