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Apple again abandons normal returns policy in Hong Kong in bid to deter iPhone 8 scalpers

Apple’s generous returns policy is one of its real strengths, giving new customers the confidence to buy an expensive product in the knowledge that they can return it for a full refund within 14 days for any reason or no reason at all. But a change introduced today adopts a far stricter approach in Hong Kong …

The change noted on the website for the Hong Kong store says that it will not allow exchange or refund unless the product is defective.

All products purchased at Apple Store in Hong Kong cannot be returned or exchanged. Exceptions for exchange will be allowed for defective products only. Please note that the content of this page applies to all online orders placed on and after August 15th 2017.

As the South China Morning Post notes, the company also changed its return terms in the run-up to the iPhone 7 launch.

The move mirrors the policy unveiled in September last year during the launch of Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, when the company levied a 25 per cent “open box fee,” or a 15 per cent “restocking fee” when customers return their Apple or Beats products, depending on whether the packaging had been opened.

The paper says that the change is designed to deter scalpers from buying up all available stock of the iPhone 8. With Apple’s standard returns policy, scalpers could buy as many as they could get their hands on, and return any they couldn’t sell. With the new policy, buying lots of stock could theoretically prove a risky investment.

In practice, however, all signs point to the iPhone 8 being in extremely short supply for some time, so it’s unlikely that scalpers would lose out by buying lots of stock.

Limiting the number of sales per customer might seem the more obvious approach, but scalpers typically hire lots of people to go into a store to buy individual phones, paying them a small fee when they collect it immediately afterwards. The problem is not unique to Hong Kong, with similar operations around the world, including New York, nor to the iPhone – scalpers have also targeted the Apple WatchApple Pencil and even Genius Bar appointments.

Photo: Aaron Zhu

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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