Apple facing temporary closure of Italy operations over warranty scandal

By , Jul 3, 2012

Just as Apple escaped a snowballing PR catastrophe in Australia over false “4G” iPad advertising (it settled with Australian watchdog for $2.25 million), the company is facing trouble in Italy, where antitrust authorities are threatening closure of Apple’s operations in the 60 million people market over misleading consumer with coverage advertising. The company has 30 days to make its case.

Cupertino was found guilty of selling its $99 a year AppleCare coverage even though a two-year warranty is mandated by the European Union. Furthermore, Apple’s warranty covers only its products, while EU consumer protection laws require sellers to provide coverage for both first- and third-party products.

What’s Apple gonna do in Italy?

Reuters has the story:

Apple Inc was threatened with the temporary closure of its operations in Italy and with further fines of up to 300,000 euros ($377,500) if it does not offer customers a free two-year warranty as demanded by Italian law.

The AGCM said in its monthly bulletin that Apple was continuing to adopt unfair commercial practices in Italy and noted this could eventually lead to the closure of its Italian operations for up to 30 days.

Italy’s consumer protection agency in March fined Apple a cool 900,000 euros (approximately $1.2 million) for failing to tell customers about their rights to free assistance.

Apple, of course, disagrees with Italy’s AppleCare antitrust complaint, saying in a statement emailed to the news gathering organization:

We have introduced a number of measures to address the Italian competition authority concerns and we disagree with their latest complaint.

I’m not really sure why the heck we even have to discuss this, but I’m worried that Apple’s been pushing its luck lately.


This is Apple Italy’s AppleCare Protection Plan for the iPhone. You be the judge.

True, Apple’s disclaimer in fine print on its Italian website states (machine translated) that “the advantages of the Year Limited Warranty from Apple and the AppleCare Protection Plan in addition to the rights of consumers under the legal guarantee of the seller”.

They also provide a link to a support document with more information and a detailed comparison chart that the Antitrust Authority claims is “misleading and deceitful”.

So, what the heck is going on here?

Consumer protection laws are consumer protection laws and companies are obliged to follow them or face legal consequences.

Does Apple think it is somehow above the European Union law?

How can it even think that AppleCare is superior to state-required warranty?

Statutory warranty requirements imposed by the European Union call for a two-year warranty on electronics so it blows my mind that it even crossed Apple’s mind they could get away for charging a hundred bucks for something that the law demands be provided free.


The AppleCare coverage for iPad. Notice fine print at the bottom.

Apple now has a messy situation on its hands. It’s not just a PR blow, the company’s antagonized EU’s consumer watchdogs, has and will be fined and at the end of the day be forced to play by the book.

Even worse, it could have avoided all this brouhaha simply by doing the right thing for the consumer.

I’m really sorry for these harsh words.

I’m pro-Apple, but can’t stand when big business takes advantage of the consumer.

Am I just getting worked up over mundane things?

How would you feel if Apple talked you into buying a warranty plan for hundred bucks without divulging that consumer protection laws entitle you to  a two-year coverage as standard.

How would you feel about that, tell me down in the comments.

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  • http://twitter.com/samirsadixov Samir Sadikhov

    Im one of those victims… I live in italy and i bought my Iphone and Imac from here. they gave only 1 year warranty and 2nd year was not free… F**ers…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1595420643 Simche Apple Konstantinovic

      Yeah, It’s the same in Sweden, but only (actually) if you buy it from non Apple retail store (El giganten, Siba, Media Markt…) you get 2 years warranty but, there is a catch. 1 year is Original Apple Warranty and the 2:nd is the Store’s included warranty (their own), but they are much worse… They give BullS*it, it only will be repaired if the mistake was NOt done by the owner, a factory error/cause… So, it’s crap, but I agree with Howard Ellacott, for such high price tag products, the Apple care should be free… One can only dream

      • Emre SÜMENGEN

        It’s crap, but it’s the same for everything you buy…

        I mean, can you actually think of a world, where the manufacturer would simply change/replace the device YOU broke?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1595420643 Simche Apple Konstantinovic

        Well, replace maybe in the worst case, but they should be able to repair it, by perhaps only installing what’s actually broken. My iPhone 4 had a scratch. I sent it via the store where I bought it,to a repair factory. When I got it, I noticed that everything was replaced, even a message stated it O.o wouldn’t minde if they only change the glas panel :/ would be perfect if they gave me a NEW one 2, but that’s rare + unlikely

    • http://twitter.com/Dongiuj DonGiuj

      It’s the same in japan.

    • Emre SÜMENGEN

      What was the problem?

      Did they refuse to provide coverage after the first year, with regards to a production problem?

      Or, did they just refuse to replace your phone after first year, when it’s stolen?

      The former case is what it should be… The latter, is problem.

  • Howard Ellacott

    For a product with such a high price tag I think that AppleCare should just be included for free.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dtheckman Daniel Thomas H

      i agree 100%

    • Emre SÜMENGEN

      I don’t/can’t agree, sorry. If it was included, there would/should come a bigger value-added insurance plan, for those who want to have their lovely devices covered in other (maybe extreme) cases…

      It’s like having an insurance for your car… By default, every country have laws that dictate every driver/car should be insured, at least minimally against an unwanted event. But, there are (and unfortunately will be) also optional, private insurance options where you can get better than “minimal” coverage…

      It’s all about choice and the value you give to the things you own.

  • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

    I’m glad Apple will finally be held responsible for their actions. I’m also glad to see laws being enforced to actually protect consumers. I think the next step Apple has to take is realize the entire world doesn’t work like the US, where corporations aren’t held responsible for anything they do.

    • Emre SÜMENGEN

      LOL, I really wonder if anyone will say the same things for a refrigerator they buy (or rather, the manufacturer of that refrigerator)?

  • Sejad Sejad

    Finally someone is stepping up to apple, I bought a $900 iphone and I get a disappointing 1 year warranty with it….COME ON!

    • http://twitter.com/rlmeena Roshan

      Well, I knew I will not be going to apple for warranty. Because 99% time there is nothing wrong with the phone in first year. So I bought $350 smuggled iPhone. lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=604885391 Richard Borkovec

    The words aren’t harsh at all, they’re fact. The fact any company would try to pull a stunt like this is deplorable. It’s good the Italian government stepped in and stopped this before it got even more out of hand. Most companies provide a one year free warranty anyway, why Apple can’t do this is beyond me.

  • Cameron Becker

    Why is this only a problem in Italy. Germany and France have the same 1 year normal warranty, 2-year Apple care warranty and they are also in the EU. I’m in Germany and paid for the Apple care, but of course no one told me about that. Is there anyway to get this refunded back?

    • http://twitter.com/Dongiuj DonGiuj

      Hopefully this will carry over to all countries.

  • Nicolas Loots

    Italy’s mad because of the 0-4 XD

  • http://www.facebook.com/carlobrd Carlo Borromeo

    IT: AH AH .. gli americani !! se non vi volete adeguare, possiamo vivere benissimo senza apple,, intanto apple inizi a pagare le multe all’unione europea,,, e l’italia ;-) !!
    ENG: AH AH .. Americans! if you do not want to adapt, we can live fine also without Apple, meanwhile apple starts to pay fines to the European Union,,, and Italy;-) !!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JLJames5880 Jonathan L. James

    Apple care plus is for physical damage. No manufacturers warranty is going to cover physical damage.

    • Emre SÜMENGEN

      Finally a sane comment, after all those “kick Apple, because I paid a lot” or “kick Apple because they have a lot of cash” cries…

      Wow…

      Warranty =/= AppleCare (or insurance, in general)

      Why is it so hard for some people to understand?

      • http://www.idownloadblog.com/author/dujkan Christian Zibreg

        This doesn’t change the fact that Apple’s standard product warrant is 1year and not 2 years as mandated by EU law

      • Emre SÜMENGEN

        Are you sure about that? The things written about AppleCare on Apple Italy site clearly states it’s something other than the standard warranty…

        Apple has been selling iPhones for a long time in a lot of EU countries (and others with similar laws as well). They do provide the required warranty. They just don’t give their AppleCare support package for free.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dtheckman Daniel Thomas H

    apple are crooks. they charge 200 for a screen that costs 20 dollars. 180 profit? come on. they dont follow laws because they have become bigger then laws. or so they think.

  • Emre SÜMENGEN

    Christian, European (most) or other countries have all consumer protection laws, each unique in itself but all try to provide a minimum level of acceptable warranty for products sold in that country.

    But, the level of SLA and coverage Apple provides with the AppleCare program is usually much higher than what is required by the law. I’m not an expert in Italian law (and I doubt you are, either), but I am pretty sure that Italian laws demand (as ours, Turkish laws do) that a product to be under warranty for at least 2 years, against production errors etc (ie. errors that are not caused by the user). But, for example, AppleCare works if you yourself drop and smash the phone by accident.

    This is clearly one of these stories where someone lands eyes on the massive wealth Apple currently has (thanks to world-wide news and bloggers for promoting that idea).

    I don’t find it just to chase Apple for more, while/if they are already providing what is required by the law, and even more, providing their customers with an optional better service, if they want…

    PS: It’s customary here in Turkey, for a cellphone salesman to try selling you additional “insurance”, with your new phone. That additional insurance is said to cover you, in the event of theft, for example, which is not covered by ANY consumer protection law.

    There is NO scandal here, just another one of those “journalist baloons”, trying desperately for attention (and rating/clicks/views). Sorry…

  • Mike McAdams

    Are there any non socialist replying to this article? Or just the the subsidy babies? People calling themselves “victims” because they only got a 1 year warranty with their electronics purchase? Seriously? Saying the rest of world isn’t like America where corps aren’t held responsible for “anything” they do? What level of ignorance would have anyone think that? NO country regulates their businesses to death more than the U.S… sorry you Italians are spoiled with your socialized everything, but gov’t regulating businesses has NEVER worked and will NEVER work. Even China is a Communist gov’t… with free trade. It’s the only reason they work. Apple is profitable because of their business model… one the Italian gov’t could certainly look to instead of running massively in debt and almost following in Greece’s footsteps. Remember that austerity package back in 2010? Those were cuts all around… not giving out more just because you whine about it. And since you guys don’t seem to get out of the house much, a 1 year warranty in electronics is pretty much the world standard; the PS3, the 360, every DVD player and stereo system… oh wait, that’s in the rest of the world where companies get to do what’s profitable.