Is Apple calling The new iPad ‘4G’ in Australia Misleading and Deceptive Conduct?
So recently, a few of us have been having a deep discussion on twitter (yes it does happen) about whether Apple selling (read: Advertising) The new iPad as a 4G iPad was misleading and deceptive (to understand more, see this link) conduct since clearly 4G doesn’t work anywhere in Australia. Apple claim that despite this fact, it will get you much faster speeds than normal 3G model iPads, but faster 3G is NOT 4G. So let us break down what we have learnt so far and the arguments against it. Our understanding is in Australia, if something is advertised as being able to do something (and is considered a reason to purchase the item), and in fact it is unable to reproduce said ‘purchase reason’, then in fact this is Misleading the Consumer and Deceptive Conduct from Apple. Point in case – A regular Average Joe hears about the new iPad. He reads about it and see’s it has 4G, and he’s heard 4G is exceptionally faster than 3G so of course it is a major reason to purchase The new iPad. So he walks into a store and purchases an iPad, thinking he can finally use 4G, only to open the box and find a note from Apple saying that 4G is not applicable in Australia (because The new iPad does not have Telstra’s 4G LTE frequencies). The fact that he only finds out about this AFTER he has purchased the item can be considered misleading (and by law isn’t technically applicable since he was informed after the purchase). After all, Advertising is a form of communication used to encourage or persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to continue or take some new action (ie: perhaps to buy The new iPad?).
So let’s run down a few counter arguments we’ve received.
The new iPad is called 4G, it’s just the model name and they won’t change it just for Australia.
True, it’s differentiated by the Wi-Fi model and the 4G model, because somewhere within the world, 4G does work. True they won’t change the name just for Australia. However, no where on their official website have they even said ‘4G does not work in Australia’. There are two thing’s they have said (if you read the purchase page):
- The iPad with 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. You can also connect to the 4G LTE networks of AT&T in the U.S. and Bell, Rogers, and Telus in Canada.
- 4G coverage is not available in all areas and varies by carrier. See your carrier for details.
As you can see, despite the name, no confirmation is ever given of it not working within Australia. Despite the name, it’s downright misleading.
But 4G will work in the USA!
So once again, no where HAVE they said 4G will not work in Australia. If an average Joe were to read the terms outlined above (which they probably would miss anyway’s) they would still not think it wouldn’t work in Australia. Mainly because, Telstra does have 4G LTE services in Australia, so a normal person would assume in good faith that they would be able to use their iPad on Telstra’s 4G network! Another reason is they say “You can also connect to the 4G LTE networks of AT&T in the U.S” which would lead a person to think they can use it within Australia AND the USA.
Let’s put it this way – estimates say that around 600,000 Australians will travel to the USA each year. Of that 600,000 how many of you expect them to own The new iPad? What about take it with them to the USA? Then how many of that small number would you expect to get a new sim card and spend more money to use the 4G connectivity? The answer is not very many. 4G may work in the USA, but we’re looking at an immensely small number of people who would ever get to use 4G on their iPad.
But the Terms and Conditions say it might not work in your region and it’s the responsibility of the Customer to Find out!
Really? It’s our job to find out if The new iPad which we bought, which is being advertised as a 4G model will work on the 4G network? That seems like a bit of an oxymoron to us. Frankly it should be Apple’s responsibility to see to the fact that they’ve made the consumer aware that it won’t work within Australia, but it still has 4G capabilities within the iPad.
They’ve said The new iPad will have faster speeds than 3G!
Sure that’s always good, since the previous model was only 3G, but is it getting the advertised 4G speeds or ranges? No not really. While we appreciate the fact that 4G’s actual definition is a bit skewed these days (technically it can only be considered 4G with speeds that only the 4G LTE Advanced network can achieve, which doesn’t technically exist for consumers yet), we still feel that Apple are jumping around the ball here by continuing to call it 4G. Faster speeds doesn’t necessarily mean advertised speeds.
If it was a problem, then the ACCC (The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) would have already done something about it!
Yes, we were curious about that as well so we gave the ACCC a quick ring to ask them about their position on it. They informed us that it was something they were aware of, something they were looking into but currently they had no official position on the matter. They did however tell us that if an Individual did purchase the iPad because of the 4G being a major factor for them then they could in fact claim for compensation from Apple. That lead’s us to wonder that if enough people complain, will the ACCC have a position on it then? Or are they only planning on ‘looking into it’ for now.
Another example which The Australian mentions is the case is in 2010, when retailer Harvey Norman promoted the sale of television sets that would allow buyers to watch the 2010 AFL and NRL grand finals in 3D. Of course, within Australia the AFL and NRL are big sporting events so you can imagine people would have been quite excited to watch those Finals in 3D! But the broadcasts were not available throughout the country and Harvey Norman’s conduct was found to be “seriously misleading and deceptive” (sound familiar?).
Despite the fine print which Apple has included (without really saying much), it might not count for much down the road. In the Harvey Norman case, the Federal Court found that “fine print is not an antidote to misleading or deceptive conduct” because they had said in the fine print that the 3D signal might not be available in all markets (once again, sound familiar?).
Of course, it’s a very fine line here and while we think Apple have crossed over the rope and into ‘Misleading and Deceptive’ Territories be genuinely advertising the 4G as if it were to work here (see picture above), they might get off my saying they never outright said that 4G would work in Australia. But heck, the ACCC even say: “Some examples of conduct that may be misleading or deceptive are: a mobile phone provider signing you up to a contract without telling you that there is no coverage in your region” (Boom) which leads us to believe that Apple are basically doing that, on a different scale. But as far as things go, we can’t do much about it – That’s up to the ACCC.
If anyone from the ACCC or Apple would like to email us about this article, please contact us here – editor (at) techin5.com.
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