Group says sale of iPhones without chargers harms consumer rights

09/13/2021 10:06 PM
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CNA file photo
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Taipei, Sept. 13 (CNA) A consumer protection group in Taiwan on Monday called the decision by Apple Inc. to sell its iPhone 12 series without two accessories -- battery chargers and earphones -- unfair, saying the practice has harmed consumer rights.

The Consumers' Foundation urged Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) to launch an investigation into the decision by Apple which requires consumers to spend additional money to buy the two accessories, saying such an arrangement amounts to a hidden price hike.

New iPhone users have to spend an additional NT$590 (US$21.30) for a charger and NT$590 for earphones.

At an online news conference, Consumers' Foundation Secretary-general Hsu Tse-yu (徐則鈺) said the iPhone operating system is, with Android, one of the two major smartphone systems in the world, but Apple has a larger share of the global market.

In the local smartphone market, the iPhone has long been the top seller both in terms of sales volume and value.

When new iPhones go on sale in Taiwan on the first day, TV cameras often capture images of the excited Apple fans getting their first iPhone after standing in a long line in front of an Apple store for hours.

In October 2020, Apple started selling the iPhone 12 series globally, but unlike earlier models, the newest iPhones are being sold without USB power adapters and EarPods. The same is also true of older models still being sold. Apple claims the two accessories have been excluded for environmental protection reasons.

Hsu said Apple is selling the new iPhone without the two accessories, but has not cut the price of new iPhones to reflect the fall in production costs.

The newest iPhone actually has a higher tag price, Hsu said, adding that the American consumer electronics giant is using its market power to force consumers to buy the accessories separately.

The European Union has urged smartphone brands to provide chargers based on common specifications to reduce electronic garbage, but Apple, which boasts more than 900 million active smartphone users worldwide due to the popular iPhones, designs accessories based on its own specifications that differ from the models in the Android camp, Hsu said.

Tsai Pei-fen (蔡佩芬), head of the foundation's legal committee, said a charger is a necessary accessory for iPhone users so Apple shouldn't exclude one when it sells the phone.

As for the earphones, Tsai said, although they are not indispensable for phone users, as the iPhone has been sold with earphones for many years, Apple should come up with a fair and acceptable pricing regime for the change.

Tsai also cited news reports as saying, Apple is still selling the iPhone 12 with a charger and an earphone in Paris.

In response, Chen Chih-min (陳志民), vice commissioner of the FTC, said the commission will start look into iPhone 12 pricing, but emphasized that any vendor has a right to set product prices, and under a market mechanism it is hard for the country's competition regulations to intervene.

(By Yang Shu-min, Pan Tzu-yu and Frances Huang)


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