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back to article Apple the victim after Chinese scammers exploit returns policy

The on-going saga over Apple’s “unfair” after-sales service in China has taken another twist after it was revealed that scammers exploited its returns policy to exchange fake parts for real ones, enabling them to build and sell new devices. Five employees at an electronics store selling Apple goods were arrested in the Chinese …

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Silver badge
Holmes

Sounds familiar

>" it was revealed that scammers exploited its returns policy to exchange fake parts for real ones"

Is this anything like Apple "exploiting" patent laws internationally to tie up its competitors and try to win market share through litigation instead of innovation?

Is this anything like Apple's "exploitation" of the licensing used by NetBSD and FreeBSD to base OSX on the work of volunteer coders?

Scammers exploiting people - interesting irony to this story.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds familiar

Is this anything like a lollipop?

Same answer - No

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Apple the victim

Ya know, for just a moment, I almost felt sorry for Apple.

Anyone else and I would have felt sorry.

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PJI
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Unhappy

Re: Sounds familiar

Er, you need to get out a bit. Hardware, not software and illegal with or without patents plus direct fraud against both customer and supplier.

As for the licences nonsense: you write like an anti-Apple, pro-Google type. You may be unaware of the origins of Linux or the GNU tools that make it useable (shell, utilities, compilers) and other software and where that comes from (including BSD actually) or of the many, unpaid or paid by private company developers, maintainers, debuggers etc. who still tinker with the system and its utilities while Google, Nokia, Redhat and others use their work. I think you will find the various BSD variants come from sources that have a few years (up to thirty?) of looking after themselves and have been happy for it to be used by OSX, nee Next and various dedicated and general systems, for longer than you have been alive (not sure if you are alive or just a robot troll).

Even UNIX built on ideas from Multics and other operating systems, while C was a development from B (I think from Cambridge U., England). So now what do you want to do? Write your own system, from scratch, using no hardware or software ever known before?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds familiar

The difference is Apple have taken parts of FreeBSD etc. and it's cost the writers NOTHING yet Apple have also given code etc. back to the FreeBSD project - Darwin, launchd etc. etc. - FreeBSD is better as a result. You are comparing Apples with Pears.

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Re: Sounds familiar

The BSD licence explicitly allows commercial variants. Apple aren't doing anything wrong by selling commercial derivative code. Of course ask a GPL person about this and you'd get into a protracted war.

Anyway, it's ever so slightly totally different from someone passing off counterfeit parts to Apple service reps in order to obtain a genuine part in return.

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Re: Sounds familiar

Of course ask a GPL person about this and you'd get into a protracted war.

It's none of their business what happens to BSD code, you can tell they had FA to do with it because it is still BSD licensed and freely usable by anyone who fancies a bit of that. Which is the point of BSD license.

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Re: Sounds familiar

They are doing less for Freebsd than e.g Netapp or Juniper.

Yes they don't have to but they could do more.

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WTF?

Re: Sounds familiar

"Of course ask a GPL person about this and you'd get into a protracted war."

NO, GPL people know the difference between BSD and GPL, or they are no GPL people.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds familiar

Andy,

You've made me curious.

How exactly were the volunteer coders or the licence "exploited" (to use your own quotation marks)?

As far as I can see the licence was known to the volunteers and NeXT complied with it's terms. So do enlighten me as to who was subject to the "exploitation" and exactly what form it took that was as underhanded as you're trying hard to imply.

Thanks. Appreciated.

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Thumb Down

Re: Sounds familiar

@PJI

>utilities while Google, Nokia, Redhat and others use their work.

You might want check the email addresses of commits to Linux, GCC etc before trying to suggest that those companies take and don't give back.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple the victim

"Anyone else and I would have felt sorry."

So, just because it's Apple, you wish them ill?!

Shagbag, you need to change your name to douche bag.

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Trollface

Re: Apple the victim

> So, just because it's Apple, you wish them ill?!

Yes.

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WTF?

Re: Apple the victim

Only one downvote so far? I was expecting an Eadon of downvotes by now!

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Seller beware

Tit for tat.

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Meh

Re: Seller beware

I liked the one a few years ago in Canada where a store took in returns of iPads that had been paid for with cash and so long as the package looked unopened they didn't check the contents.

The 'iPad' was then sold on to the next customer who took it home, opened it and found a lump of clay.

Now that was funny.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seller beware

Yeah dead funny - let's celebrate crime - oh it's not so funny when it happens to you or someone you know or a company you work for.

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Trollface

Re: Seller beware

quote: "Yeah dead funny - let's celebrate crime - oh it's not so funny when it happens to you or someone you know or a company you work for."

Since the consumer protection legislation in most countries allows for a full refund if the goods are not as advertised (e.g. lump of clay instead of Apple iPad), I think the consumer is going to be fine in this circumstance.

The company that neglected to check what they were refunding, on the other hand, should probably have had a decent returns process defined? You know, one where they check the returned product to ensure it was in a working state, and not something unusable that has been carefully packaged back up?

Crime is crime, but there are certain crimes (like this type of confidence trick) that can be trivial to avoid if you apply a little intelligence. In the case of corporations, this can be in the form of a well written and carefully implemented returns policy (e.g. "sorry, no refund before we open the box and check it"). The "box of spuds" selling technique is as old as time, it's not like it was only invented last year.

Caveat Emptor works both ways, if you work for a company that accepts returns from customers I would suggest you need to be at least as careful as someone purchasing from the public. Conmen have even less scruples ripping off companies than they do ripping off consumers ;)

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Re: Seller beware

Society already does look at those stupid cop shows and the Police relationship with News International and the Police commenting on cases its all totally wrong.

Ebay is only crooks these days (Or people also on Amazon - the only reason to be on Ebay is if you don't want to act reasonable and follow Amazon's policies.). The only decent sellers that are on Ebay are from Hong Kong.

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Re: Seller beware

The reason Apple don't generally check the phones is what makes their return policy so awesome. You go into a store, they check if it works by pressing a few buttons, if it doesn't - brand new phone.

All the Apple stores around where I live are always packed, with people waiting to be seen. I shudder to think what would happen if all those people now had to sit around waiting for a technician to open up their phone and check it (and only a few employees would have the training to do that).

If it was so easy to fix the problem, I'm sure the most valuable company in the world would have figured it out. In truth, it's not a big deal. It's better to have a great return policy with a few weeds than no lawn at all.

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other vendors are available

Should we skate over the fact then that Apple are only being accused of unfair practices because they would be required to reset the warranty when giving a completely new phone out to replace a broken one? The other manufacturers have no such trouble because they don't give you a new phone when your current one breaks. Apple are the victims in both of these stories regardless of your vendor preference. Apple are also one of the few companies whose warranty got worse when Europe demanded 2 years rather than 1.

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WTF?

Re: other vendors are available

Wow, 4 downvotes for pointing out that Apple in this instance have done nothing wrong yet not a single response to say why. Looks like the fandroids are out in force today...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: other vendors are available

Looks like the fandroids are out in force today...

They're mainly ex Windows supporters. After Vista they had to find a new wannabe monopoly to rallye behind, prferrably one with the same attitude to people's rights (the right to be lied to for profit). It's an interesting subtype of humanity, also found in religious cults.

I'm easy - I don't trust anyone but I need kit that works together with all the other stuff I have, yet ensure I meet my legal and moral obligation to protect the rights of my clients. It's at this point you discover Android <> Linux. In order of safety I'd say the sequence is *BSD, Linux, OSX, iOS, Windows, Android. I'm mixing platforms here, but it's in relative effort to keep data to yourself. I can't see that change much in the future.

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WTF?

Seems like...

...a lot of work to make £105 profit on each phone.

And did they imagine that nobody was going to notice that many returned parts?

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FAIL

Re: Seems like...

If your average annual earning are <£25 a year, £105 is quite a good profit

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Re: Seems like...

An engineer in a city would not be earning <£25 a year.

Living in a city in China is not the cheap proposition you might imagine it to be. I spent quite a lot of time in Beijing (admittedly right next to the LG twins, so not the cheapest part of town), and it's more expensive to live there than Manchester I'd say.

If it were farmers out in the sticks, you might have half a point, but the wages for people in the cities are not massively different from people in the west.

Of course if they pushed out 300+ phones at £100ish profit a time, that's £30k, which is walking around money no matter where you live.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Seems like...

You may not say that if you earned £10-15 a day.

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Re: Seems like...

@Velv:

If your average annual earning are <£25 a year, £105 is quite a good profit

@Anonymous Coward:

You may not say that if you earned £10-15 a day.

Yes, in a Foxconn factory out in the sticks you might be earning that kind of money.

Even so, five people were party to the scam so it's like the money was being divided five ways.

They got themselves in the shit for what is effectively beer money.

If you're going to pull a scam and risk jail time you might as well go big or go home...

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Silver badge

Re: Seems like...

Depends where you go. When I was in Shanghai, my (native) co-workers looked after me really well, took me to some fantastic local places for lunch, we'd eat a lot and it would cost no more than 20 kwai. Dinner in a reasonable chinese restaurant (as opposed to a gwailo restaurant) - well, one night I spent 60 kwai, 6 beers and so much food I couldn't eat it all.

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Re: Seems like...

60 kuai for a meal is definitely achievable, but it's not going to be that nice.

I'll be honest, the food in China wasn't as good as I was expected, I've been spoilt by Malaysia I suppose. I wouldn't even differentiate it bewteen Chinese and western restaurants. Most expensive meal I eve had in China was at the top of the LG twins and it was exclusively Chinese eating there, and proper Beijing foods (still not awesome though).

That was a few hundred quid for four people and it wasn't value for money.

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Bronze badge

Re: Seems like...

Yeah when people complain about poaching in Africa (Endangered species) they seem to forget doing this once would provide more money than they would be able to earn in a lifetime. This is never mentioned.

It is all very well people in the West saying you should or shouldn't do whatever but if you have no state funded healthcare I can imagine a situation where at least I would do anything regardless of legality or punishment to get the money to pay for whatever.

Yeah when people complain about poaching in Africa (Endangered species) they seem to forget doing this once would provide more money than they would be able to earn in a lifetime. This is never mentioned. Same sort of thing.

If you are going to do something like that Apple is as good a target as almost anyone (except perhaps Oracle).

Probably not the case here but it is hard to say.

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Mushroom

Just usual stupidity

Nothing more. Speak with "inside" knowledge: Apple and other big companies are very good at control their service chain. You may slip couple of small jobs with no exchange parts in, or get free software, but getting a new phone is very hard, and it is almost certain the very act will be known to the management, and the punishment is not light either.

This is a simple case of few stupid employees got greedy, it can happen anywhere. And you can bet all the "lost" will be paid back.

Now, if someone smart that really took multi millions $ worth of hardware, and got away with it, that will be a real news. Oh, even that happened, I still won't feel sorry for this greedy entity.

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Bronze badge

Re: Just usual stupidity

The news seems to ignore the times when people get away with it. (Maybe it is reported at the beginning but it is rare to hear about it afterwards). There was a bank robbery that worked not so long ago and a plane hijacking that worked (With $1,000,000 of the FBI's money that got to Albania - the cash was returned (By the Albanians) but the perpetrator went free. He is in Portugal now and they won't extradite him.)

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Re: Just usual stupidity

piracy is rife in somalia. Ransom insurance is big business.

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FAIL

You have to hand it to the Chinese, they are innovation experts ...

whether it's melamine in baby formula < http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2010044,00.html > or recycled cooking oil; fake green peas < http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-03/31/content_9664992.htm >, pesticide-tainted vegetables, exploding watermelons, “lean meat powder” < http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2060741,00.html > and pork reconstituted as beef, the Chinese have done it.

And don't buy Chinese 'honey'.

They have been copying things for years, even using transferred technology in unofficial shifts to produce competing products adainst the IP owners!

Switching fake parts for real are just a progression in the Chines SOP.

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Devil

Re: You have to hand it to the Chinese, they are innovation experts ...

> pork reconstituted as beef, the Chinese have done it

So this must make Romanians real innovators, reconstituting horsemeat as beef.

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