Did Apple Dodge A Powder Keg In Europe With Italian Warranty Case?


CC-licensed, thanks to Andrew* on Flickr.

Although many EU consumer laws already guarantee twice as much protection, Apple can continue to rip off customers there by selling AppleCare extended warranties.

Lawyer Carlo Piana told Cult of Mac that although Apple lost its appeal over fines for unfair business practices in an Italian court, that probably won’t affect Apple’s stance in the rest of the EU-27, although consumer laws are “harmonized” across member states.

Apple came under fire from Italian antitrust watchdogs by offering its standard one-year warranty for new products to Italian customers and then selling AppleCare warranties. Italian consumers are already covered for two years, but the brochures selling the service (with what looks like a condom packet on the cover) offered them “peace of mind” with “extended warranties.”

Italian judges will hand down a ruling on the case in May. In the mean time, Apple must pay about $1.2 million in fines (900,000 euro) and add a note to the boxes of coveted iProducts stating that Italian buyers are already protected by a two-year warranty.

Piana, who was directly involved in the first wave of disputes from the Italian Antitrust Authority over paid extended warranties at big box consumer stores, says it’s about time.

“There were many concerns about Apple’s behavior, since a consumer is entitled to receive a free repair or replacement, without buying complicated care plans, within two years,” Piana told Cult of Mac via email.  “If you tell a consumer that if they buy the policy they are ‘covered for three years,’ but don’t tell them that for two years they would be covered anyway, it’s not exactly transparent.”

Meanwhile, Apple can continue to hock AppleCare in Italy  – and the rest of Europe.

Piana added that the Italian Antitrust Authority tends to be very strict about these murky warranties, from what’s written on the box to how employees upsell these extras to customers who may not know their rights.

“Writing on the box really isn’t enough,” Piana said. “The information must be clear and the consumer must be correctly informed at the time of sale, by the staff. Our consumer code is clear about that.”

While the Italian case may not affect Apple across Europe yet, trouble may be brewing: consumer groups in 11 countries recently asked Apple to be clearer about guarantees, threatening action against the Cupertino company.

Hat tip TNW

  • Ed Steinberg

    who writes this junk. “rips off” what the heck does that mean. The people don’t have to buy it if they dont want too..

  • Geraldine Recto Zuccarello

    you don’t get it, they just need to be clear about the fact that in Italy they already have 2 years warranty by default. It has to be a consumer decision to extend the warranty even farther.
    Not everyone knows that and Apple staff can be misleading at the moment when the purchase take place which us Apple customers knows how fast it happens…

  • Bob Forsberg

    Is this story related with the discontinued…a few years ago, white iMacs pictured in the photo above?

  • CharliK

    What the law covers isn’t the same as Apples warranty. The law is basically a lemon law issue. If you have a problem during that 2nd year you have to prove the issue was there from the start. If you can’t then Apple doesn’t have to do jack. AND if you didn’t buy direct from Apple they don’t have to do jack cause the law says the vendor, not the maker has to repair or replace.

    AppleCare doesn’t care where you bought it or when the defect happened. So long as its not user damage like water or dropping it they cover it. The only exclusions are a handful of hings related to iPhones bought in a different country due to hardware differences

  • carlopiana

     This is the defense we attempted in the first place on a similar case, that the burden of proof is reversed on the warranty provider with a care plan (anyway it’s also reversed by statute during the first six months). That didn’t work for all consumer electronics distributors. The only one who challenged this stance is Apple, I wonder why they simply did not do what everybody else does, and which is just to inform people and let them do an informed choice.

  • Turtle Heart

    No. is not a “lemon” law as lucasott fantasizes. It is supposed to be a full warranty and yes, Apple is ripping off Italian consumers. Apple “pretends” it is a lemon law so they can keep pocketing the free money and Apple Stores after the first year do everything possible to not repair or replace the product, deliberately.  I live in Italy and I would never even walk in an Apple Store here. I use an “authorized” Apple Repair Service, locally owned,  for years. They obey the Italian law and give you 100 per cent full warranty service for 2 full years, no questions asked or tricks played, as they do in the Apple Stores. While I love my Apple products, you USA people, so many of you,  refuse to believe your beloved Apple has an evil dark side and is not above ripping people off. Why that is makes no sense. So many of you just have a knee-jerk type reaction to any “criticism” of Apple, it borders on the perverse really.

  • Turtle Heart

    I believe in t his case it was Italian Judges sitting in Italian courts.