Yesterday, we reported that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission wants Apple to lose the “4G” marketing for the third-generation iPad, alleging it misleads consumers into thinking the device is capable of accessing 4G networks in Australia. Reports from ABC news quickly followed and claimed Apple would give refunds to customers and publish clarification regarding incompatibility with the Telstra network. Apple’s AU website now has “Ultrafast wireless” instead of “Ultrafast 4G” on the main features page, despite still advertising 4G as a highlight of the device through its international sales pages.
Now, authorities in other countries where the new iPad is not compatible with local 4G networks are investigating the issue. Authorities in at least the United Kingdom and Sweden confirmed they are considering investigations…
Pocket-Lint spoke to the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority and confirmed it is looking into complaints:
“We are aware of the news from Australia regarding the iPad 4G marketing claim… Without going through due process we can’t say whether the (UK) ad is likely to be problematic. If anyone has concerns about the iPad ad then they can lodge a complaint with us and we will establish whether or not there is a problem under the Code.”
The Swedish Consumer Agency is also considering an investigation with Marek Andersson, a lawyer for the Agency responsible for safeguarding consumers’ interests. The agency told The Wall Street Journal it received “several complaints”:
“One may rightfully ask if the marketing of the new iPad is misleading… While iPad is equipped with 4G connectivity, it will only work in the U.S. and Canada… The question is whether this information is clear enough in Apple’s marketing.
The Pocket-Lint report noted the U.K. Advertising Code states: “That ads must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information or by presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible or ambiguous way”—which would seem to apply in this scenario. When Apple launched the new LTE iPad, it only announced international carriers for Canada including Bell, Rogers, and TELUS.
Meanwhile, Apple’s Australian and U.K. sales pages for the new iPad clearly state: “Wi-Fi + 4G model can roam worldwide on fast GSM/UMTS networks, including HSPA, HSPA+, and DC-HSDPA. When you travel internationally, you can use a micro-SIM card from a local carrier.” Due to complaints, it is possible Apple could be forced to include specific information about compatibility with local 4G networks through each of its international online stores. It could also likely lead to Apple offering refunds in the U.K., Sweden, and elsewhere—the same as Australia.
Update: Now Denmark too is getting into the act.
- Is Apple falsely advertising 4G on its iPads in Australia? (9to5mac.com)
- Apple offers the boilerplate refunds to Aussie ’4G’ iPad owners who believe they were misled (9to5mac.com)