The CCTV broadcast was not the first time Apple has been accused of treating its Chinese customers differently from those in other regions. On 15 February 2012, Beijing Business Today a weekday business newspaper published by the Beijing Daily Group ran a report critical of the high support fees and mandatory replacements for damaged iPhones at Apple stores in China. The focus of the article was on Apple repair staff purportedly pressuring consumers into paying high prices for comprehensive replacement of iPhone parts rather than lower-price part repairs. Rather than simply fixing the broken screen, it cost up to RMB 1,598 to replace a broken screen, main board, and battery with factory refurbished parts on a water-damaged iPhone. The article also quoted from Chinese consumer protection Chinese lawyer governing fair treatment of customers, and concluded by asking how long Apple can expect to survive if it exhibited such disregard for its customers.
The following are some tips from professional Chinese lawyer. On March 15 — World Consumer Rights Day — China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast its annual investigative program that seeks to expose companies that harm or mistreat Chinese consumers. Several companies, both foreign and domestic came under the spotlight, and the program rehashed familiar accusations of Chinese consumers being treated unfairly by multinationals. Specifically, CCTV accused Apple of discriminating against Chinese customers by offering lower levels of service and charging fees for replacing back covers of faulty phones, which is done for free in other countries.
There also seems to have been an organized campaign on Sina Weibo in which celebrities criticized Apple for the problems exposed by the CCTV report. The campaign backfired when the aptly named Peter who tweeted his message criticizing Apple, but forgot to delete the instructions it came with telling him to post it at 8:20 pm, just after the CCTV report aired. The word on the street in Beijing is that this campaign was organized on behalf of one of Apple’s competitors. Samsung is the name most often cited, but this is only hearsay.