Italy threatens to fine and shut down Apple operations over warranty concerns

Macworld Australia Staff
3 July, 2012
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Apple is being reprimanded with yet more fines in Italy for not making it clear that local customers have a free two-year warranty. The company may face paying another €300,000 in fines, already having been hit with a fine for €900,000 due to the lack of clarity.

Furthermore,  Italian authorities are threatening to temporarily shut down its operations in the country for up to 30 days unless the company complies.

Under Italian law consumers purchasing electronic products and other durable goods have the right to get two years free assistance. Apple offers a free one-year guarantee scheme but offers customers the option to buy Apple Care that extends protection to two years. The Italian court took issue with the fact that Apple is encouraging customers to buy the Apple Care service without explaining that the company is obliged to offer a free two-year warranty.

After Apple was charged in the Italian courts with violating a European law that states that companies should offer a free two-year warranty, the company updated its website with details of the warranties that allow for the repair of products for up to two years after purchase.

The company made the difference between warranties and guarantees clear. Indicating that all customers get one year’s free guarantee that entitles them to free repair or replacement coverage for defects that emerge after the purchase of the product. In addition consumers purchasing the extra Apple Care cover get repair or replacement coverage for defects that emerge after the purchase of the product for two to three years. Apple explains that the two-year warranty is available to all, but only covers defects that existed at the time the product was purchased.

However, according to Reuters’ sources, the company has failed to comply with the antitrust request and may be fined an additional €300,000.

“The antitrust (authority) has opened a procedure of non-compliance against Apple, complaining about two unlawful practices,” the source told Reuters.

Earlier this year, Apple lost its appeal of the original fine that was brought against it in late 2011. As well as paying the fine, Apple was given 90 days to amend the information displayed on AppleCare packaging and in online descriptions, which it had apparently done, but the Autoritá Garante della Concerrenza e del Mercato (AGCM)  argued that Apple continues to employ unfair practices in Italy.

AppleCare is an extended warranty and support service that can be bought for Macs, iPhones, iPods and iPads, offering phone and in-store support and accidental damage cover under the AppleCare+ option (currently not available in Australia). The price of coverage is conditional on the price of the Apple product.

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