Apple CEO Tim Cook has apologized to Chinese customers for the company’s iPhone warranty and repair policies following a wave of criticism from that county’s state-run media.
The move comes at an important time, as Apple looks to grow in its second largest market and repair some of the raw feelings of customers stung by the previous policies.
The People’s Daily in China ran a front-page piece calling the company “arrogant” in dealing with Chinese consumers, saying Apple offered sub-par customer service and even outright ignored customers.
The apology also came on a day in which Apple’s stock fell 3.1 percent, the largest one-day drop since January.
“We recognize that we have much to learn about operating and communicating in China, but we want to assure everyone that we bring the same deep commitment and passion to China as we do to any other part of the world,” said Apple’s CEO in his apology.
Cook noted that Apple will offer full replacements if older iPhones that are running into problems. He also noted that Apple would improve its customer service, training, and the monitoring of stores selling Apple products in China.
China accounted for $22.8 billion in sales for Apple’s fiscal 2012, with more than two million iPhone 5 models sold there in the weekend the phone went on sale.
Cook noted that the company has tremendous respect for China and values its customers there.
“In the process of studying the issues, we recognize that some people may have viewed our lack of communication as arrogant, or as a sign that we didn’t care about or value their feedback,” Cook said. “We sincerely apologize to our customers for any concern or confusion we may have caused.”
In the Apple CEO’s apology to China, he also implored customers to take their concerns directly to the company so problems could be more quickly addressed in the future.