EU scolds Apple over AppleCare warranty rights


Apple’s woes over its shady warranty practices in Europe just took a turn for the worse as the European Union through the mouth of its Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding made it clear it has no intention of letting Apple off the hook. In her speech today, she criticized the tech giant for not complying with consumer laws in many EU states.

The Cupertino firm stubbornly insists on its AppleCare terms of service which aren’t in sync with EU laws. The company had been previously reprimanded of failing to communicate in no unambiguous terms to its EU buyers that they are entitled to an additional year of coverage…

Dow Jones Newswires quotes Reding:

This case and the responses I received since I sent my letter have highlighted rather clearly just why the Commission cannot sit on the side-lines on enforcement issues.

The approaches to enforcement in these types of cases turn out to be very diversified and inconsistent at a national level.

In at least 21 EU Member States Apple is not informing consumers correctly about the legal warranty rights they have. This is simply not good enough.

Bloomberg reported back in December 2012 that Reding recommended a thorough review of Apple’s advertised warranties in the EU member countries.

Having deemed Apple’s marketing practices “unacceptable,” she charged:

Apple prominently advertised that its products come with a one-year manufacturer warranty but failed to clearly indicate the consumers’ automatic and free-of-cost entitlement to a minimum two-year guarantee under EU law.

Today’s development unfolded just 24 hours after The Sydney Morning Herald reported Apple has quietly extended its AppleCare warranty policies in Australia from 12 months to 24 months to bring it in line with Australian Consumer Law.

And as iDB previously reported, Italy in December 2012 slapped Apple with a $264,000 fine over failing to comply with local consumer laws.

AppleCare iPad coverage (Italy)

That punishment – along with another, much heftier $1.2 million fine in March 2012 by the Italian Antitrust Authority – prompted the Cupertino firm to pull AppleCare protection plans off store shelves in Italy and tweak the AppleCare wording on its EU web site to better inform would-be AppleCare buyers of their warranty rights.

The whole brouhaha steams from the fact that Apple sells the AppleCare warranty plan as an add-on to its existing one-year warranty even though a two-year warranty is mandatory in the European Union.

Various consumers groups in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and possibly other EU territories also filed lawsuits against Apple over warranty rights.