UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
In the Matter of
The Federal Trade Commission, having reason to believe that Apple Computer, Inc., a corporation ("Apple" or "respondent"), has violated the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act, and it appearing to the Commission that a proceeding by it in respect thereof would be in the public interest, alleges:
1. Respondent Apple is a California corporation with its principal office or place of business at One Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California 95014.
2. Respondent has manufactured, advertised, labeled, offered for sale, sold, and distributed personal computers, printers, scanners and other computer products to the public. From approximately September 1, 1992, until approximately April 1, 1996, Apple promised United States purchasers of these products that live, toll-free technical support would be available at no charge for as long as the purchaser owned the product.
3. The acts and practices of respondent alleged in this complaint have been in or affecting commerce, as "commerce" is defined in Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
4. Respondent has disseminated or has caused to be disseminated advertisements for Macintosh personal computers, Apple printers and Apple scanners, including but not necessarily limited to the attached Exhibits A through D. These advertisements contain the following statements and depictions:
A. "We build all our products to be easy to use, but if you ever need help, rest assured. Apple technicians are here with service and support, on our toll-free service hotline, 1 800 SOS-APPL."
[Exhibit A (direct mail advertisement)]
B. "A PARENT'S GUIDE TO COMPUTERS
SERVICE AND SUPPORT
YOU'LL FIND EVERYTHING you want in a Performa: just the right hardware configuration, easy setup, and bundled software to make you productive right away. You also get toll-free technical support over the phone for as long as you own your Performa. No matter what your problem, a customer support representative will talk you through each step in the solution."
[Exhibit B (Special advertising section insert: "A Parent's Guide to Computers.")]
C. "Apple Resource Guide
We're Here When You Need Us
Most important, Apple Assurance is part of every product Apple makes. Through Apple Assurance you have toll-free telephone access to Apple when you have questions about setting up and using your Apple product, and in case you require hardware repairs.
. . . .
Every Apple product includes Apple Assurance. Apple Assurance includes 'up and running' support for as long as you own your Apple product. Trained staff members are ready to help you with the following topics:
User Assistance is open from Monday through Friday 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., Saturday 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., and Sunday 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Pacific time."
[Exhibit C (Product insert: "Apple Resource Guide")]
"We'll help keep you up and running. . .
For as long as you own your Apple product.
Thank you for purchasing this Apple product. With your purchase you receive 'up and running' support from Apple as long as you own your Apple product. Specially trained staff members are ready to assist you in installation and set up, compatibility, hardware and software troubleshooting, and product referrals....We can provide you with:
Toll-Free User Assistance
"We give you direct access to our specially trained staff! They can assist you with information on:
User Assistance is available Monday through Friday excluding holidays. Hours in the United States are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time.
Call User Assistance at:
[Exhibit D (In-Box Registration Card)]
Through the means described in Paragraph 4, respondent has represented, expressly or by implication, that a consumer purchasing an Apple product would have toll-free telephone access to Apple technical support personnel, at no charge, for as long as the consumer owned the product.
In truth and in fact, consumers purchasing Apple products between approximately September 1, 1992, and April 1, 1996, did not have toll-free telephone access to Apple technical support personnel, at no charge, for as long as they owned the product. In October, 1997, Apple began charging these consumers a fee for access to Apple technical support personnel. Therefore, the representation set forth in Paragraph 5 was, and is, false or misleading.
The acts and practices of respondent as alleged in this complaint constitute unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce in violation of Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
THEREFORE, the Federal Trade Commission this twenty-ninth day of July, 1999, has issued this complaint against respondent.
By the Commission.