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In an ostensibly bizarre, but nevertheless justified move, Apple on Tuesday updated its sales policy for product returns and exchanges in the Chinese metropolis of Hong Kong. While the tweaked policy guidelines now dictate that “all Apple products” purchased either from Apple Stores or online via the company’s Hong Kong-based web storefront will be ineligible for return or exchange — indefinitely, effective August 15, 2017 — the company does note that it will pay special consideration to exchanges of defective products “at its sole discretion.”
Apple provided no reasoning for the abrupt change, however it’s worth noting that last year the company instated similar guidelines just ahead of the highly anticipated iPhone 7 debut. And so it’s likely that the rules have been tweaked as a precautionary measure ahead of this year’s game-changing iPhone 8 flagship.
Unfortunately, due to the country’s lack of taxation and tariffs on imported goods, Hong Kong and its neighbor, mainland China, have become breeding grounds in recent years of a so-called ‘Black Market’ for in-demand gadgets and electronic devices, meaning that scalpers have become increasingly crafty in their efforts to smuggle popular products (i.e., the latest iPhone models) from Hong Kong into neighboring China, where they’re often sold at a substantial profit. Just take a look at this guy, shown in the photo below, who according to the South China Morning Post was found “walking strangely” across the border between Hong Kong and China back in 2015.
Last year, when the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus launched in Hong Kong, scalpers were scrambling to make a quick buck in the thriving Black Market, where the current flagship devices were sold for as much as 15,000 Hong Kong Dollars a pop (or about $1,900 USD).
As strict as it may seem, however, the modified policy will likely be temporary; and Apple will eventually revert to its original return/exchange guidelines sometime in the near future — though a timeframe has not yet been specified.
Either way, as far as Hong Kong-based Apple fanatics are concerned, the “new rules” are certainly nothing new, per se. Apple has for long held Hong Kong to slightly different return and exchange standards than the rest of the world — more than likely for the same reasons, too. For instance, Hong Kong customers looking to make volume purchases (totaling four items or more) are limited to a return and exchange window of just seven days instead of the standard 30 and a 25% restocking fee will apply.