Fresh complaints spark new 4G iPad investigation
The ads watchdog is again investigating Apple’s websites after more complaints about the marketing of the new iPad as “4G compatible”.
Apple claims its latest iPad “supports” 4G, although it’s not compatible with all next-generation networks. In Australia, Apple was forced to offer full refunds to customers because the iPad doesn’t work on the country’s 4G network – although it isn’t clear how many people took up the offer.
The Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) investigated after receiving 40 complaints about the 4G claims on Apple’s UK website.
On the basis that the issues that had been raised with us had been resolved we closed the case informally
“Complainants challenged whether the references to 4G were misleading, because they understood that 4G was not currently available in the UK,” an ASA spokesman told PC Pro. “Some of the complainants also challenged the description of the iPad as 4G because they did not believe that the iPad would be compatible with 4G networks when they were introduced in the future.”
US 4G runs on different spectrum than Australia’s network, and is different than the spectrum planned to be used for the UK’s next-gen network. The device can still be used to connect to current generation networks, however.
The ASA took the complaint to Apple, which said it had removed the references to 4G from its site and would edit a promotional video that mentioned 4G. “On the basis that the issues that had been raised with us had been resolved we closed the case informally,” the ASA said.
However, the watchdog said it has since been contacted by several more people regarding 4G claims that remain on the site. “We are currently assessing these new complaints,” the ASA said.
At the moment, the Apple website lists 4G LTE on the iPad’s specifications page, but adds in a footnote: “4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the US, and on Bell, Rogers and Telus networks in Canada. See your carrier for details.”
The Apple Store website describes the device as offering “Wi-Fi + 4G” with the same footnote, while a video on the site promotes the iPad as featuring the “speed of 4G LTE”.
Apple has yet to reply with request for comment, but an unnamed source told the BBC that it hadn’t been ordered to remove all references to 4G from its site.
An ASA spokesman told PC Pro that Apple would have been told about specific problems on its site, but would have been expected to address the problem in a “general sense”.
If Apple is found to still be incorrectly advertising the iPad, it will again be asked to remove the content. If a company refuses to comply, the ASA can “name and shame” it on the watchdog’s own website, or even take out paid search ads to highlight the issue. It can also refer Apple to the Office of Fair Trading – although the spokesman said the watchdog was “not going down that line”.