Apple is often praised for its after-sales service and support, as well as device guarantee policy and Apple care programs.For the most part, we have to hand it to Cupertino, especially for its truly international repair and replacement coverage. We are sure, at lest some of you have found themselves in a situation, where you phone or laptop gets damaged or simply malfunctions while you are abroad. No problem, the nearest Apple store can take cake or that. The nice people there might even replace your smartphone with a shiny new one, if a defect is found in yours.
However, did you know that many Apple stores might actually hand you a refurbished replacement unit? Many people don’t and others find that later, one way or another. That was the case with one David Lysgaard in Denmark, back in 2011. He got a replacement iPhone 4 from Apple and reacted quite strongly once he found out it wasn’t new. So much so, that a lawsuit was filed shortly after.
Now, a good four years later, the Danish court has ruled in favor of David, effectively limiting Apple from using refurbished units as replacements in the future. The court relied on the Danish Sale of Goods Act in stating that Apple can’t provide a refurbished iPhone in exchange for a new one, since the resell value does not match up between the pair.
While that might sound reasonable on paper and it is undeniable that no two iPhones can cost exactly the same, if valued on a proper per-component and condition basis, there is the fact that Apple will rarely be in a situation where it replaces pristine new units for worse refurbished ones. More often than not, users take a non-working or somehow damaged device in and get one that obviously has a higher value back. Plus, Apple does fit new displays in said units and guarantees that the internal components are good and reliable, after a thorough check.
Then again, if the same refurbished devices in question get offered on direct sale by Apple, the asking price would definitely reflect their second-hand nature, regardless of status checks and guarantees. This is also a valid point to consider and overall the ruling might turn out to be a big deal. Naturally, Cupertino intends to appeal.
These hurdles are not limited to Denmark either. In the US there is a class action lawsuit currently underway against Apple on the same grounds. At this point in time, the fight seems to be a semantic one, more than anything else. The claimants say that: “a secondhand unit that has been modified to appear to be new,” is not as durable and functional. This leaves the US court with the tough call of deciding if a product “equivalent to new in performance and reliability”, as claimed by Apple can be considered equivalent to a new one.
From the looks of things, this has the potential for setting a precedent, which is a powerful thing in the US judicial system. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on the matter and keep you informed. In the meantime, tell us your stance and opinion in the comments.