Telecom & Wireless

China Slams Apple Customer Service

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Source: Thinkstock
The official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party fired a shot over the bow of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) yesterday, claiming that the company refuses interview requests and that Apple’s response to a critical news report from CCTV on the company’s warranty and customer service practices in China. The report was broadcast on March 15 and accused Apple of offering lower levels of customer service in China and charging fees for replacing back covers of iPhones, which the TV news show claims is done for free in other countries.

These kinds of charges are not new, either to Apple or other non-Chinese companies that appear to be establishing a leading position in the Chinese market. Remember the accusations against Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) in 2009 when CCTV reported that the search engine returned pornographic content. The charges against Google and the charges against Apple were and are false, but they do keep the pot stirred up.

A new wrinkle in the current attacks against Apple is the charge that students in Chinese universities are taking out high-interest loans to buy the latest electronics gear from Apple and other vendors. In the city of Wuhan, students have borrowed $25.7 million in the past 13 months at interest rates of up to 47.12%, according to a report in China Daily. A new iPhone 5 costs about $800 in China.

Whether the attacks on Apple will have a negative impact on sales remains to be seen. China is Apple’s second largest market — but then, at one time, China was also one of Google’s largest markets. If the government really gets behind the attacks on Apple, the company could find itself with a big problem.

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