Apple’s iPad hits snag over 4G claims overseas

March 28, 2012

Following allegations by an Australian agency that Apple’s advertising deceived people into thinking its new iPad could run on all 4G networks, the company has said that it will offer refunds to any iPad buyers who believe they have been misled. The flap is the latest in a series of glitches involving the new iPad since it went on sale March 16.

According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission told a federal court that Apple had not heeded warnings from the consumer watchdog that it was misleading consumers.

In court, the report said, Apple said that it never claimed that the device would work on Australia’s 4G networks, which are run by the telecom company Telstra. The iPad is compatible with what is known as “4G” in the United States — the LTE networks of Verizon and AT&T — but does not work with the LTE networks in Australia. The networks operate on different frequencies.

According to a report from Fox News, Apple lawyer Paul Anastassiou said, “At no point in any promotional material for which Apple was responsible has Apple said at any time that the new Apple device is compatible” with Telstra 4G. He continued, “No such representation in our submission is conveyed by the use of the acronym 4G in the name of the device. . . . Prior to the launch of the product there was significant press pointing out that the device is not compatible with the Telstra 4G LTE network.”

In addition to granting refunds, the company agreed to post statements at points of sale to make it “plain that there is no claim made in relation to the device that it is capable of connecting with the Telstra 4G LTE network.”

Since the iPad’s debut two weeks ago, some consumers have complained about how rapidly the device drives up charges on wireless data plans and about its tendency to heat up while in use.

Other countries have also raised concerns about the way Apple is marketing the tablet’s “WiFi + 4G” model. Regulators in Sweden said that they have received several complaints about the tablet, the Wall Street Journal reported, and a lawyer at the Swedish Consumer Agency said the agency is considering an investigation. British regulators at the Advertising Standards Authority told the Daily Mail that the authority is assessing complaints about Apple’s decision to market the device in Britain, where there are no 4G networks.

The 4G LTE feature was one of the main additions to the new iPad, and although there are no compatibility issues in the United States, consumers have reported that they’ve blown through their data plans quickly in the two weeks since the iPad went on sale, The Washington Post reported.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on regulator concerns in Australia, Sweden and Britain.

Read more related stories:

New iPad: Some users report WiFi connectivity problems

Apple speaks out on iPad battery indicator

iPhone 5 rumors will be a snoozefest this year

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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