An Apple store in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. (File photo/Xinhua)
New, free iPhones are available, unwittingly, through China's Apple maintenance centers, as people without their original certificate of purchase show up to claim their "lost" iPhone. Lawyers said Apple does not bear any responsibility for any losses on the part of the previous owners, reports online news portal China Economic Net.
A man surnamed Xu living in Beijing said he immediately reported the loss of his iPhone to Apple's customer service center in January. His phone did eventually turn up, only to later be given to an imposter that claimed he needed his phone replaced because of "user problems," as Xu found when he traced the maintenance record.
Xu said that the original iPhone vendor asked him to provide an invoice and maintenance card for repairs during the guarantee period. The maintenance center Xu traced, however, was at another branch, at which customers can replace or fix iPhones without the original purchase certificate or guarantee card.
All maintenance centers have been authorized to retailers, responded Apple, adding that the incidents should be handled by the retailers.
The loophole gives the opportunity for those who have stolen phones to exchange it for a new one, said analysts. On the black market,an iPhone can go for as much as 2,000 yuan (US$320), said analysts.
Zhang Ping, a lawyer for Beijing Yi Fang Legal Firm, said that Apple and the maintenance centers have not violated customer rights because they can guarantee whether the iPhones sent to them are stolen.