Apple offers refund to new iPad customers in Australia over 4G capabilities

Published March 28, 2012

| News Corp Australian Papers

Apple has offered to refund Australian customers who bought the new iPad expecting to use the country's 4G network, but denies it has misled the public.

In Federal Court proceedings brought by the national consumer watchdog in Melbourne on Wednesday, lawyers for Apple said the company was willing to take steps to ensure consumers did not mistakenly buy the iPad 3 believing it could connect to telecommunications giant Telstra's fastest wireless network.

Paul Anastassiou, representing Apple, said it would offer refunds and returns to customers "if they claim to have been in any way misled in relation to the reference to 4G."

"At no point in any promotional material for which Apple was responsible has Apple said at any time that the new Apple device is compatible [with Telstra 4G]," he said.

"No such representation in our submission is conveyed by the use of the acronym 4G in the name of the device.

"Prior to the launch of the product there was significant press pointing out that the device is not compatible with the Telstra 4G LTE network."

Anastassiou said Apple agreed "for the sake of absolute clarity" to place a clarifying statement at the point of sale "making it plain that there is no claim made in relation to the device that it is capable of connecting with the Telstra 4G LTE network."

Apple is resisting moves to force it to put stickers on its packaging and publish corrective advertising.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) filed the case against Apple on Tuesday, alleging the new tablet labeled "iPad WiFi + 4G" misled consumers because it cannot connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia.

Telstra's 4G network operates on a 1800MHz frequency, while the iPad 3 only works on 4G frequencies currently available in the US and Canada and will not pick up an Australian 4G frequency until at least 2015.

Anastassiou said the iPad could operate on superfast Telstra networks such as HSPA+, which met international definitions of 4G even if not called that in Australia.

Judge Mordy Bromberg said it was "more relevant" what the ordinary consumer would understand from the term "4G."

Colin Golvan, for the ACCC, said Apple had "exacerbated confusion" among consumers and persisted with its advertising while knowing the iPad could not connect to 4G in Australia.

Read more about Apple's Australian legal battles at The Australian.

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