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Tim Cook Apologizes to China Over Warranty Policy

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL - Get Report) CEO Tim Cook has apologized to its Chinese customers over the company's warranty policies on the company's Chinese Web site.

Over the past few weeks, the Chinese government's media arm has been extremely negative toward Apple over its warranty policies.

Cook apologized to Chinese consumers regarding the company's warranty policy, citing a lack of external communication as the problem.

Here's a link to the apology on Apple's website.

Using a Google translation from Chinese, edited to make it more readable, the letter states: "To our Chinese consumers:"

"In the past two weeks, we've received a lot of feedback regarding repair and warranty issues in China. We have carefully reviewed these together with the company's 'Three Guarantees' and have also looked closely at our maintenance policy and management specifications for authorized Apple Service Providers. We are aware that flaws in our external communication have led to the appearance of arrogance and a lack of concern for customer feedback. We express our sincere apologies for any concerns or misunderstandings this gives consumers."

The letter goes on to list four specific areas of improvement and discusses each point:
  • Improved iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S repair policy
  • Providing concise, clear information regarding the official repair and warranty policies on Apple's Web site
  • Improving supervision of training of Apple Authorized Service Providers
  • Improving related issues to ensure consumers can easily contact Apple Feedback Service

    The letter implies the fault lies more with communication with customers and states, "We realize that we have much to learn" about communication issues specific to China. The letter emphasizes that Apple is deeply committed to its customers in China as it is in all other countries in which it operates and will be unremitting in its efforts to bring Chinese customers the same high degree of satisfaction.

    iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S Repair Policy Improvements

    The letter outlines the current repair policy and newly implemented improvements, including making it easier for customers to replace an entire device. The new policy affects current owners. At the same time, the letter points out that 90% of its customers expressed satisfaction with its existing repair services.

    Maintenance Agreement Posted on Apple's Web Site

    The letter says that the policies are now clearly stated on the Web site.

    "We realize that our site before did not state this policy clearly. Hope [the updates] will answer all the questions about how Apple provides services."

    Renewed Oversight of Apple's Authorized Service Providers

    The letter states that beginning March 18, Apple supplied new training materials to its service providers. At the same time, "we have taken the initiative through face-to-face meetings and other forms of verification to ensure that each Apple Authorized Service Provider has opened training courses to update the knowledge of the staff for the maintenance and warranty policies. We will make unremitting efforts and continuous monitoring of the performance of the Apple Authorized Service Providers to ensure that consumers can get the highest quality service."

    Feedback-Related Issues

    The letter says Apple welcomes customer feedback at any of its outlets, including stores and its Web site, www.apple.com.cn/support/service/feedback/.

    The letter concludes with a "heartfelt thank you" for the feedback the company had received.

    "[W]e always harbor immense respect for China; the Chinese consumer is always the top priority of our hearts."

    The letter is signed:

    "Tim Cook
    Apple CEO"

    -- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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