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Apple stores in Beijing sued

(Global Times)

09:28, August 18, 2011

Apple stores in Beijing are allegedly selling used iPhones as new ones, as six Beijing consumers raised complaints Wednesday and two filed lawsuits against Apple with the help of a well-known counterfeit goods crusader.

Six consumers who recently bought iPhones in Apple stores at Xicheng district's Xidan Joy City and Chaoyang district's Sanlitun, and some other authorized dealers, found their phones have a shorter warranty than the normal one year.

Wu Di and Liu Xiaomeng, two customers to the Joy City store on July 9, found on the Apple websites that their phones' warranty was due several months early. They called Wang Hai, known for his fights against counterfeit goods and products and who runs a hot line for needing consumers.

Wang delivered indictments against Apple to Xicheng District People's Court on Monday for the two consumers.

"They went to the store before calling me, but the store only offered to give them a new one without other compensation," Wang told the Global Times Wednesday.

Wang blogged about the two consumers' complaints on Monday and uploaded pictures of the consumers' iPhone receipts and search results on the Apple website as evidence.

Another consumer at Xidan Joy City store said she had the same problem, but when she found her phone was refurbished and went to the store to negotiate, the shop staff tried to trick her by modifying the date of the due warranty.

"She refused, and took a new iPhone instead," Wang said.

An employee of the Joy City store said, "It's impossible that we sold refurbished cellphones."

When he heard it was a reporter, he refused to comment more and asked the reporter to call Apple's public relations office instead.

The publicity department of Apple China could not be reached Wednesday.

"It's cheating to sell refurbished products as new ones," Wang said. "It'll be discrimination against Chinese consumers if the case turns out to be true as refurbished cellphones are also sold in other countries, but at a cheaper price."

Wang is waiting for the court to file the case, but Xicheng district court was not available for comment Wednesday.

According to Wang's indictment, the consumers are asking for compensation at twice the price of the cellphone and that Apple should pay their legal fees and also apologize to them.

Willing consumers are welcome to join in the lawsuit if they find their iPhones also refurbished and have kept the receipts, Wang said. Li Chuhua, a publicity employee with China Consumers Association, told the Global Times they are paying attention to the cases.

A recent report in Guangzhou Daily revealed that secondhand iPhones are refurbished and sold in Guangzhou's chain stores, insiders suggesting that sometimes the store employees sell the display phones or used ones to customers after polishing them up.

A consumer can seek compensation at twice the price originally paid if he finds the seller is cheating, according to the Law on the Protection of Consumers' Rights and Interests.