Apple has been sued in China by customers who claim to have been given refurbished iPhone 4 units after paying for brand new devices. Citing a report from Chinese-language Sina Tech, M.I.C. Gadget reports that at least six customers who purchased iPhone 4 units from Beijing Apple stores reported that their registered warranties were less than the full year promised by Apple, and that their supposedly new units had scratches, leading them to believe that Apple had sold them refurbished units.
Two customers filed lawsuits, both claiming that they purchased 16GB black iPhone 4 units from the Xidan Joy City Apple Store in Beijing on July 9, 2011, complete with a receipt. One of the customers claims to have discovered that her iPhone 4 carried a warranty expiration date of January 28, 2011, just over six months from the date of purchase. Upon making this discovery, the women supposedly called counterfeit goods activist Wang Hai, who subsequently filed the lawsuit on their behalf.
While it is possible that the customers mentioned in the report were mistakenly given refurbished units instead of brand new models by Apple employees, it seems quite unlikely, as refurbished units are not shipped in the same boxes as new units. It is even less likely that Apple is knowingly selling refurbished iPhones as new, as Wang has suggested. “There’s a high possibility that refurbished devices are being sold to consumers,” he told local media. “We think that Apple is surely selling refurbished devices as brand new devices to Chinese consumers. It’ll be discrimination against Chinese consumers if the case turns out to be true as refurbished cellphones are also sold in overseas, but at a cheaper price.”
While it is worth noting that a string of fake Apple retail stores was recently found in China, with several of the locations now shut down, the receipt shown in the report does appear to be from an Apple company-owned store in Beijing. There is a possibility that some of the other customers mentioned in the report purchased their goods at one of these fake stores, and therefore fall outside of any liability on Apple’s part, as well as a possibility that some refurbished units did in fact get accidentally resold by Apple as new to customers.