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Why won’t Apple offer refunds to confused ‘4G’ iPad owners?

After pressure from the ASA and consumers, Apple has amended its advertising to remove references to ‘4G’ on its iPad. But why won’t it offer refunds to UK consumers, as it has in Australia?

The saga of the iPad and its ‘4G’ support, or lack thereof, rumbles on. In March I wrote about why the new iPad won’t actually work on 4G networks in the UK, despite Apple referring to iPads with mobile chips as ‘Wi-Fi + 4G’.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), which received numerous complaints, investigated and demanded that Apple change the messaging on its website. When Apple dragged its heels, the ASA announced it was reopening its investigation and reiterated its demands. Apple has now relented, removing references to ‘4G’ in favour of ‘Wi-Fi + Cellular’.

But is that enough? I don’t think so. In Australia, Apple was forced to offer refunds to customers who felt they were misled.

But in the UK, Apple is offering no such redress, sticking with the standard 14 days cooling-off period from the date purchase. That’s fine if you bought an iPad last week, but what about people who bought one when it was released and didn’t realise it wouldn’t support 4G?

Here’s what Apple had to say

While Apple has changed the wording on its website, Apple is sticking to the view that the iPad hasn’t changed. Its view is that the iPad does support networks in the UK that are considered as 4G by international standards. Apple told us:

‘The new iPad supports many high speed networks around the world, including LTE in the US and Canada and HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA in many countries. Carriers do not all refer to their high speed networks with the same terminology, therefore we’ve decided to use “Wi-Fi + Cellular” as a simple term which describes all the high speed networks supported by the new iPad. The advanced wireless features of the new iPad have not changed.’

But as Three and Everything Everywhere have already told us – they will never refer to the iPad’s version of ‘4G’ as 4G.

The fact remains: when Apple referred to the iPad as ‘4G’ on its website and on its packaging, this could have given UK customers a misleading impression of what they would be getting.

Apple isn’t at fault for the confusing nature of international standards, but it did know about the problem and chose to go ahead anyway. So now this mistake is plain for all to see, do you think it’s about time Apple put its hands up and did the decent thing?

Should Apple offer refunds to confused ’4G’ iPad owners?

Yes - if you bought the iPad for 4G you should be refunded (83%, 237 Votes)

Wait, the new iPad doesn't support 4G in the UK? (11%, 32 Votes)

No - Apple has done enough by removing '4G' from its site (5%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 285

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John Symons says:
16 May 2012

The UK adverts seem to have been just as misleading as the Australian ones. Apple should pay up. I bet they have an annual social, environmental, etc impact report trumpeting how ethical they are. Non payment in the UK will show this to be the usual taurine ordure


The seller, and not the producer, is liable to give a refund in this scenario. Section 14(2D) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 states “If the buyer deals as consumer or, in Scotland, if a contract of sale is a consumer contract, the relevant circumstances mentioned in subsection (2A) above include any public statements on the specific characteristics of the goods made about them by the seller, the producer or his representative, particularly in advertising or on labelling”. Therefore retailers are liable for Apple’s misleading advertising of 4G functionality. See http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/54/section/14


You’re right, and we did make this point in our last convo on this, but remember also that Apple is a retailer – it sells many, if not the most, iPads. Also, it’s unlikely retailers will take the lead unless Apple agrees to underwrite the cost.

Derek says:
17 May 2012

This ‘mis-description’ of 4G seems like it might be a prima facie breach of the Unfair Trading Regs, which prohibits ‘unfair commercial practices’. So, complain to Trading Standards and demand they take action. Additionally, if you have been mis-sold, then try a ‘small claims’ action; I’d be very surprised if Apple did not settle immediately!

[This comment has been edited for libel reasons. Thanks, mods.]


Thanks Andy. I hadn’t read the previous conversation on this before making my comment above. I’m glad that Which is one step ahead of me!

Derek is right. See Regulation 5(2)&(5)(o) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2008/1277/regulation/5/made


This is just another story that highlights how ineffective regulators etc are in this country. And how big companies just aren’t worried about them.

I saw an Apple ad only the other day I thought was supposed to have been pulled but I guess not. The one were the guy asks where’s my brother and it shows him just outside the football ground, yet we all know that service is doesn’t work outside the US. So why are the allowed to advertise it ?


To use stronger language, in my opinion they lied to boost sales. They sold a product claiming it had a function it did not have, therefore in modern newspeak, they mis-sold the item. This should automatically result in them recalling all I pads carrying that advertising, with the promise of a full refund.

‘when Apple referred to the iPad as ’4G’ on its website and on its packaging, this could have given UK customers a misleading impression of what they would be getting’.
Not could have, they evidently did, despite being told before concocting this ad campaign that they were making deliberately false statements concerning the UK market. This was discussed about the new I pad in another which thread.

Apple know that most of its fan base would not send them back, and it’s appeal as a consumer centred, caring company would have got a boost from this ‘honest’ mistake & corrective recall.
Instead they are beginning to look more & more like what they really are, just another corporate shark.

Peter Jones says:
17 May 2012

I went for the 4g version of the new iPad as I wanted to futureproof myself for when 4g came to the UK. At that time I thought the extra investment of £100 over the wifi only model was worth it. I now feel cheated. I have checked the box and it certainly says 4g.

I have contacted the ASA, BBC Watchdog, and Citizens Advice (Cunsumer Advice). Hopefully something can be done.

Can any of these bodies force Apple to offer refunds?


Martinb says: