Apple to Revise S. Korea IPhone Return Policy After Complaints

Apple Inc. (AAPL) agreed with South Korea’s fair trade regulator to revise its customer-service policy for iPhone users in the country to address complaints about the handling of faulty devices.

Consumers who find defects in their iPhones within a month of purchase will receive new devices instead of refurbished ones, the Fair Trade Commission said in a statement today. South Korea became the first country to convince Apple to change its global customer policy, the commission said. Steve Park, a Seoul-based spokesman for Apple, declined to comment on the change.

Korean iPhone buyers have complained Apple only gives devices refurbished with used parts when there are problems with the product, even though its service warranty states customers can get refunds, new phones or free repairs, the commission said. Under the revision, consumers have the right to choose between the options, the regulator said.

South Korean lawmakers in October summoned Farrel Farhoudi, senior director for Apple’s iPhone service based in the company’s Cupertino, California headquarters, to ask questions about the company’s customer service. Apple’s policy is in compliance with the South Korean rules, and the company didn’t plan to change it, Farhoudi said at that time.

A 13-year old user of the iPhone sued Apple’s Korean unit after Apple didn’t provide free repairs, Yonhap News reported on Oct. 19. The suit was the first against the U.S. company related to its customer service in South Korea, according to the report.

The company is also facing a class-action suit joined last month by about 27,000 Korean iPhone users who are seeking 1 million won ($912) each in damages for allowing the phone to collect location data without their consent.

The iPhone, which went on sale at the end of 2009 in South Korea, is offered by SK Telecom Co. and KT Corp., the country’s two largest mobile-phone carriers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jun Yang in Seoul at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at

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