My speakers don’t work properly and Apple won’t provide a refund. What are my entitlements? | Australian lifestyle

I bought an Apple HomePod mini speaker in February 2023. I want it to reliably play audio via my iPhone and it does not and will not work with our standard wifi network. We’ve followed help documents, forums and Apple Support’s advice: nothing helped, but we learned that thousands around the world have the same issue. We’ve asked Apple for a refund under Australian consumer law, but they have refused. They expect us to make a three-hour round trip to an Apple Store, where they will obviously be unable to replicate our home network. Am I entitled to a refund?

– Simone, South Australia

Kat says: It’s extremely frustrating when things don’t work as they should. The short answer to your question is that yes, you are entitled to a refund, but Apple can also offer you a replacement.

In your case, it seems the product you bought isn’t working the way you expected it to based on the representations made by Apple. A quick skim of the HomePod mini page on the Apple website makes a few things clear: the product is supposed to be a “seamless” and “effortless” addition to your smart home. There is nothing on the page – which is ostensibly the sales pitch – that suggests the product won’t work with some wifi networks. Not even in the fine print.

There is also nothing on the troubleshooting page to suggest the product is incompatible with some networks.

Under Australian consumer law, “any information or claim that a business provides about its products or services must be accurate, truthful and based on reasonable grounds”, which includes “claims about the value, benefits, qualities or performance of products and services”.

This means you are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund. The catch is that Apple has the right to assess the product before offering you one of those remedies. Apple is also entitled to ask you to return the product for an assessment.

You could argue the product you have been sold has a “major problem”, which the ACCC says is “either one serious problem or several smaller problems that would stop someone buying the product if they knew about them beforehand” or that the product “can’t be used for its normal purpose”. When it comes to a major problem, you are entitled to a refund or replacement.

You have a right to return the product if you think it’s faulty. Under Australian consumer law, however, it is your responsibility to return products that can be posted or easily returned.

In your case, I would suggest negotiating with Apple to post the product back to them (noting that it does not have to be in its original packaging). This will save you the long trip to the store. Keep your receipts for postage – where a product is found to be faulty, the business that sold it is liable to reimburse you for the reasonable costs associated with the return.

If I were you, I’d push hard for a refund rather than a replacement given this is a known issue with the product that hasn’t been solvable through standard troubleshooting. Put this case in writing to Apple and contact the store directly to speak to customer service.

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If this doesn’t work, you can contact South Australia’s Consumer and Business Services to seek further advice or make a complaint.

Ultimately, I do think you have clear entitlements here. Unfortunately, it might take a little bit more of your time and effort to claim what you’re entitled to under the Australian consumer law.

Guardian Australia contacted Apple for comment but they did not respond to our questions by deadline.

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