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South Korea to probe Apple contracts with iPhone repair providers

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 - 17:20

[SEOUL] South Korean regulators will investigate Apple's relationships with local phone repair companies to determine whether they violate consumers' rights.

The Fair Trade Commission will examine contracts between the iPhone maker's Korean unit and the eight repair outfits to determine if they include unfair practices, according to a commission statement.

The probe comes after six repair-service providers in the country, home to Apple competitor Samsung Electronics Co, complied with commission demands in July to rectify policies called unfair to iPhone users. Those included not allowing people to cancel repair orders and asking customers to pay in advance.

"We started screening repair practices earlier this year after receiving complaints about Apple's repair service," Min Hye Young, a director, said on Wednesday.

The eight shops include the six involved in the previous investigation, one run by SK Telecom Co. and another run by KT Corp. An Apple spokeswoman in Seoul didn't respond to phone calls and an e-mail seeking comment about the new FTC probe.

The investigation comes as Apple chips away at Samsung's lead in global smartphone market share. Samsung's stock is heading for its third straight annual decline, prompting the Suwon-based company to replace the head of its mobile-phone business, relocate staff and cut costs.

BLOOMBERG