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13-year-old S. Korean demands free iPhone repairs
SEOUL, Oct. 19 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean iPhone user filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. for the first time, demanding that the U.S. handset maker pay repair costs for her damaged phone, court officials said Tuesday.

   The 13-year-old girl, identified only by her family name Lee, bought an iPhone 3G in February that broke months later. She brought her device to an authorized repair shop earlier this month.

   However, her free repair request was rejected because the company said that she dropped the smartphone in water. It said the color of a tag attached to the side of the phone changed to red, meaning that the phone had contact with water.

   She lodged the damage suit against Apple's Korean unit before the Seoul Central District Court, seeking some 300,000 won (US$269) in compensation, marking the country's first civil action against the global electronics company's after-sales service policy.

   "I never dropped my phone in water but they insisted that I did, just based on the color change," Lee said.

   "I heard that the tag can be discolored from humidity... The company has not taken any action to prevent the color change. That means it provides poor-quality goods."

   Since the global giant's mega-hit iPhone made its debut in South Korea in November last year, consumer complaints about Apple's customer service policy have risen steadily. Nevertheless, the company has sold more than 1 million iPhones within about nine months.

   The U.S.-based electronics company requires South Korean consumers to purchase a refurbished phone for some 300,000 won when his or her iPhone is damaged or stolen, instead of providing the free repair service it offers to customers in other countries during the warranty period.

   brk@yna.co.kr
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