Ap­ple ditches free re­turn pol­icy

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By LUOWEITENG in Hong Kong sophia@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Ap­ple has scrapped its long­stand­ing free-of-charge re­turn pol­icy in Hong Kong and Ma­cao, in a sign of the tech gi­ant’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to de­ter scalpers from mak­ing a quick buck on its newly launched hand­sets.

Ap­ple had pre­vi­ously al­lowed cus­tomers in Hong Kong andMa­cao to re­turn the un­dam­aged prod­ucts for free, with the orig­i­nal re­ceipt and pack­ag­ing, within 14 days of the pick-up date.

How­ever, buy­ers will now be charged a 25-per­cent “open box fee” when re­turn­ing their opened Ap­ple or Beats prod­ucts, and a 15-per­cent “re­stock­ing fee” for closed-box re­turns. A tai­lor-made re­turn pol­icy, in par­tic­u­lar, has been in­tro­duced for pur­chases of more than four prod­ucts from the same cat­e­gory.

The new­pol­icy was re­leased on Ap­ple’s web­site on the same day iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus hit stores in Hong Kong and Ma­cao, where the lu­cra­tive scalp­ing busi­ness has be­come com­mon­place and dis­torted the mar­kets with the launch of ev­ery iPhone model over the past fewyears.

The ex­act rea­son be­hind the pol­icy change, and whether it is a tem­po­rary move un­til sup­plies of the highly sought-af­ter iPhone 7 mod­els re­turn to a nor­mal level, re­mains un­clear at the mo­ment. It is be­lieved the de­ci­sion has much to do with the thriv­ing re-sale mar­ket in the ter­ri­to­ries, where an iPhone 7 Plus can eas­ily be resold at the mo­ment at a 100per­cent premium.

Hong Kong res­i­dent Thomas Li picked up his pre-or­dered jet black 128G iPhone 7 Plus at the Ap­ple Store in HongKong’s Cause­wayBay on Sun­day. Hav­ing got­ten his hands on the new iPhone model, which nor­mally re­tails for HK$7,388 ($952), for a few min­utes, he just as quickly sold it to a scalper wait­ing a few feet out­side the Ap­ple Store for HK$15,000.

Mer­chants at Sin Tat Plaza, Hong Kong’s so-called iPhone ex­change which de­ter­mines the gray­mar­ket’s price forthe­newly launched iPhone mod­els, quoted a price of up to HK$21,000 for a jet black 256G iPhone 7 Plus and HK$15,000 for a jet black 128G iPhone 7 Plus.

A 32G iPhone 7 Plus in gold or rose gold can be sold at a premium of more than HK$1,000 and the same-col­ored 128G model can be sold for HK$1,500 more than the of­fi­cial re­tail price.

Due to the lack to im­port taxes and du­ties, smug­gling the lat­est iPhone mod­els from Hong Kong into the main­land can be rather prof­itable, even though the main­land was se­lected in the first batch of mar­kets for the launch of the iPhone 7.

On­line pre­order­ing for the newly re­leased iPhones kicked off on Sept 9 in the main­land. But many Ap­ple en­thu­si­asts com­plained about the dif­fi­culty of get­ting their hands on the large-screen iPhone 7 Plus and a jet-black iPhone 7. It is un­clear if the short­ages were the re­sult of strong de­mand or lim­ited sup­ply.

Ap­ple, which saw a 33 per­cent drop in sales in China in the quar­ter ended in June, pins its hope on the new iPhones to re­gain its busi­ness mo­men­tum in the coun­try where do­mes­tic brands such as Huawei and Oppo have seen a surge in ship­ments. Meng Jing con­trib­uted to this story


An em­ployee shows a cus­tomer the new iPhone 7 dur­ing the open­ing day of sales at an Ap­ple store in Hong Kong on Fri­day.


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