Apple Korea under antitrust investigation

Apple Korea under antitrust investigation

South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission said Wednesday it is investigating whether Apple Korea, the local unit of the Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker, had wielded undue influence over the repair policy of local service centers.

The latest probe came after six service firms ― all authorized by Apple ― recently revised their unfair repair policy following the recommendation of the antitrust watchdog.

“We have found unfair business contracts between Apple Korea and its authorized service firms,” FTC chairman Jeong Jae-chan told reporters Tuesday. “We will soon finalize the ongoing investigation.”

Together with the soaring popularity of iPhones here, complaints have also been mounting over poor after-sales services.

Before the recent revision, the authorized service firms and its branches made repair decisions unilaterally, charging the maximum fee ― 375,000 won ($320) for a refurbished phone ― in advance.

Even though the discrepancies in real costs were refunded depending on the extent of repairs, consumers had doubts about their credibility. The centers also didn’t receive cancellations of repair requests and declined to give refunds.

The service firms handle minor repairs only, such as battery changes and camera fixes, while handing over other major issues to separate repair shops. Apple Korea has not revealed the details of those repair shops.

In July, the FTC requested the service firms make necessary changes in the cited unfair clauses, offering a 60-day grace period.


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