Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook apologized for the company’s iPhone warranty and repair policies in China after criticism over customer service in its second-largest market.
Apple is changing its practices to offer full replacements of older iPhones experiencing problems, Cook said in a letter posted on the company’s Chinese website. Apple also vowed to improve training, customer service, and monitoring of stores authorized to sell its products in China.
The apology comes after the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, criticized the iPhone maker for poor service. China’s central government also said it planned to increase scrutiny of contracts with electronics makers, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Some consumers in China had complained that Apple repaired broken iPhones instead of replacing the devices. While Apple said 90 percent of customers had been satisfied by the fixes, the company also said it would replace those handsets with new ones and offer a one-year warranty.
“We recognize that we have much to learn about operating and communicating in China, but we want to assure everyone that we bring the same deep commitment and passion to China as we do to any other part of the world,” Cook said.
The letter underscores China’s importance to Apple. The country, which is Apple’s biggest market after the U.S., accounted for $6.83 billion in sales during the fiscal first quarter, which ended in December. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company sold more than 2 million iPhone 5s in China when that model went on sale there in December.