Chinese authorities to keep close watch on Apple despite apology

Apple apologized after facing criticism over its warranty policies in the country

Apple may have apologized to Chinese consumers over its warranty policies, but regulators in the country signaled they would keep a close eye on the U.S. tech giant and its approach to customer service.

The company's apology showed "initial achievement" in reforming its policies, China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) said on its website on Sunday. But despite the apology, SAIC is adopting a "watch and see" policy toward Apple, and will not let up on its oversight of the company.

Last week, the regulator held a meeting with 19 different municipal and provincial SAIC offices specifically to discuss Apple's customer service policies. At the meeting, the regulator called on the different offices to increase scrutiny of Apple's product sales and customer service.

SAIC's close oversight of Apple comes after the country's state-run media blasted the company last month for alleged unfairness in its warranty policies. Among the complaints included claims that Apple treats its overseas consumers better than those in China, with more favorable iPhone warranty services.

In response, Apple initially stated that its warranty policies were roughly the same across countries. But after facing a battering in China's local media, the company's CEO Tim Cook issued an apology, where he outlined changes in its customer service for the country.

The country's state-controlled media has since backed off from attacking the company. But some experts speculate that China's higher authorities may have fuelled the controversy, as a way to retaliate against the U.S. for disrupting the business of Chinese technology firms.

SAIC has been involved with rectifying Apple's iPhone repair services at least since last year, according to Sunday's Internet positing. The regulator's Shanghai office went as far to press Apple to make changes.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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