Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Apple

Apple Fined By Italy For Misleading Customers About Warranty Terms 218

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the legal-obligations-are-for-other-people dept.
beaverdownunder writes "An Italian watchdog has fined Apple 900,000 euros ($1.2m, £750,000) for failing to inform Italian shoppers of their legal right to two years of technical support, recognizing instead only a one-year standard warranty. This had led people to pay extra for Apple's own support service, AppleCare, which overlapped with the government-mandated guarantee."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Apple Fined By Italy For Misleading Customers About Warranty Terms

Comments Filter:
  • Perfect Match (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nman64 (912054) *

    Apple and the Italian government deserve each other.

    • by Flyerman (1728812) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:14PM (#38515758) Journal

      It's almost a form of taxation. Apple takes Italian fanboi moneys, then the government fines Apple.

      The real question is whether Apple comes out ahead or behind after the fine.

    • Re:Perfect Match (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:29PM (#38515968)

      Tho years of guarantee on consumer goods is not just an Italian law, it is a European Union directive [europa.eu].

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Entropius (188861)

        Is a two-year guarantee the same as tech support? To use the mandatory car analogy, is saying "You've got to fix Bob's car if it breaks for two years" the same as "You've got to teach Bob how to drive and walk him through changing his oil"?

        • by nstlgc (945418)
          That is irrelevant. The question is, do they imply that if you want more than 1 year of warranty, you need to pay more?
          • by Matheus (586080)

            I just wish the penalty had had more Teeth. As the company with more cash on hand than God, a $1.2M penalty barely a penalty.

            "Oh no! $1.2M?!? I think I just wiped my ass with that yesterday... let me find that for you..."

            • Re:Perfect Match (Score:4, Insightful)

              by gnasher719 (869701) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @05:47PM (#38519638)

              I just wish the penalty had had more Teeth. As the company with more cash on hand than God, a $1.2M penalty barely a penalty.

              $1.2M penalty is a $1.2M penalty. If you were the lawyer whose job it was to check all the legal terms on Apple's Italian website for conformance with Italian laws, and the company just got a $1.2M fine because you didn't do your job competently, then you are in trouble. And you can bet that your successor is making sure it won't happen again.

        • Is a two-year guarantee the same as tech support? To use the mandatory car analogy, is saying "You've got to fix Bob's car if it breaks for two years" the same as "You've got to teach Bob how to drive and walk him through changing his oil"?

          No the 2 year term is for failures due to manufacturing defects present at the time of sale only. Applecare generally does provide much more coverage and is valid for 3 years, so the 2 are not equal. That said I applaud the Italian government for making sure companies correctly inform customers.

      • EU directives are implemented, but individual nations have to create a law based around that, and are fully tasked with enforcing those laws in their own territory. So, the EU directive is basically irrelevant, as they violated it in Italy, but may have complied in other EU member nations.
        • by iserlohn (49556)

          Unless the deadline for implementing the directive has passed and the infringing party is associated with the public sector. Or if the directive was implemented (transposed) incorrectly. In which case the doctrine of direct effect would apply.

  • Not surprised... (Score:5, Informative)

    by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:13PM (#38515742)
    Service plans are probably the most profitable thing anybody sells. Just like rebates, odds are very very high that the person buying said plan won't ever use it, so it's pretty much free money a lot of the time...
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:14PM (#38515744)

    Where was this concerned Italian government when MTV sent over the Jersey Shore cast?

  • by GrpA (691294) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:14PM (#38515756)

    That is corporate ethics at it's absolute worst. You can be sure that it's likely Apple in Italy knew of the situation and was milking it if they got a fine like that... :(

    I wonder if the fine even approaches the profits they made abusing the laws like that.

    GrpA

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:28PM (#38515948) Journal
      It's pretty common with corporations - especially US corporations - in the EU. There are quite strong consumer protection laws that mean that a lot of 'extended warranties' are just promises to honour the terms required by law. They just offer the same service that they offer in the USA, where there are much weaker minimum standards.
      • by houghi (78078)

        Technical warranty is 2 years standard. For batteries it is 6 months. First line is the store where you bought it, but if they are not there anymore, the manufacturer is responsible.

        In Belgium (not sure about other countries) a standard phone number must be available, so no expensive phone numbers.

        For a PC technical support will be something like: Have you tried to turn it off and on again? Did a re-install work? No? OK, we send it back to the factory and you get an identical or better machine back.

        This mus

    • by mpe (36238)
      That is corporate ethics at it's absolute worst. You can be sure that it's likely Apple in Italy knew of the situation and was milking it if they got a fine like that... :(
      I wonder if the fine even approaches the profits they made abusing the laws like that.


      They could potentially be facing nearly 30 similar fines. Given that it's unlikely they only did this in Italy.
    • While I've no desire to defend Apple, they're certainly not the only ones. I had to threaten to report Dell to trading standards before they'd replace my faulty monitor ~ 15 months after purchase. Sorry Dell, you can't get round the law by saying "one year warranty only" - a monitor should last more than 15 months, full stop.

  • Well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:16PM (#38515792)

    F*uck Apple.

    Sent from my Macbook Pro

  • Apple: 1, Italy: 0 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:17PM (#38515800) Homepage Journal

    Apple's profits from selling the additional warranties in the entire country of Italy is almost certainly more than the fine, so it was a good business decision for them to flout local law if this is all they're going to face.

    • by Rennt (582550)

      It's not a simple transaction like that; the fine does not include indirect costs like Apple's loss of standing with the EU. It is rarely a "good business decision" to piss-off officials of a state in which you wish to do business.

      These kinds of decisions can add up, and long term can be detrimental a corporatation's strategic options.

  • They always try and get me to spend money on a 1 year warranty for tools, laptop, etc... I read the package to them and ask "The manufacturer has me covered for 2 years, what does your warranty get me that I don't have." Answer: "We handle all the problems with calling them..". Neat.
    • by ThePhilips (752041) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:55PM (#38516302) Homepage Journal

      That is not so simple. Misleading bit is that Apple advertises "included 1 year AppleCare, + extra 2 years for extra money," while saying nowhere that customers actually by law have 2 years of warranty.

      Now, the simplest distinction of AppleCare and standard support is that former is international, latter is local.

      IOW, there are some extras AppleCare covers, but they avoid mentioning how precisely it differs from the standard support, what's covered for 1 year, what's covered for 2 years, what's covered with the optional AppleCare.

    • Often what is being sold is an extended warranty, meaning that the underwriter starts their warranty when the factory warranty runs out. That is how Squaretrade warranties work, which are pretty commonly sold (you can buy them yourself too). AmTrust (their parent insurance company) agrees that should your item fail after the manufacturer's warranty period runs out for a term of whatever you pay them for, they'll do what it takes to get you a working one. So buy a TV with a 2 year warranty and get a 3 year S

  • Easy to fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:19PM (#38515840) Homepage Journal

    When a company does this to a product, force them to provide a lifetime warranty on that product. They will be much more careful.

    • A "Troll" is when you say something you don't believe. I believe this. Go suck eggs. I believe that too.

    • If that happened, the immediate reaction would be to discontinue the product lines and introduce new products that are exactly the same but with different part numbers. The lifetime of the product is then over.
    • by TeknoHog (164938)
      Actually, most of the things I buy have a lifetime warranty. Each product is guaranteed for its lifetime.
    • by Borland (123542)

      Lifetime is too excessive; electronics do break over time. But I WOULD like a company to at least stand behind their product for a minimum of three years. The fact that extended warranties exist is like taxing someone on assets lost in a burglary. You just got robbed twice.

      In fact, I think it's the fact that extended warranties exist that dissuade companies from offering bigger warranties. Much like rebates, few people really take someone up on warranties unless someone comes to your house. So it's not

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:23PM (#38515886) Homepage

    "Technical Support" from Apple is like going to church. You get told things like "because that's the way it is" and when you press, you never get the "why" part of it. I learned long ago about the compatibility between Apple and business -- there is none by the standards I have come to expect in the PC world. There is no "next business day, on site, accidental damage" support from Apple. When I learned that, I could never again take them seriously where business was concerned.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lucm (889690)

      "Technical Support" from Apple is like going to church. You get told things like "because that's the way it is" and when you press, you never get the "why" part of it. I learned long ago about the compatibility between Apple and business -- there is none by the standards I have come to expect in the PC world. There is no "next business day, on site, accidental damage" support from Apple. When I learned that, I could never again take them seriously where business was concerned.

      Their business model does not target companies because they know that fashion statements have no impact on company buyers, and that's all they have in stock.

    • If anything goes wrong during the warranty period you bring it in to the store. They'll do whatever it takes to make it work, including replace it.

      Now outside of the warranty period you are kinda screwed.

      They don't do well for business but then nobody but Apple fans thinks they are serious at the business market anyhow. Apple wants to make consumer electronics toys (because that's where they've made massive money) not business systems.

  • AppleCare (Score:3, Insightful)

    by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:24PM (#38515898) Homepage Journal

    An AppleCare plan offers much more protection than just one more year warranty.

    • Re:AppleCare (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:34PM (#38516044) Homepage

      Sure but thats not the point. If they had informed their customers of the 2 year warranty that they were entitled to by law, that would have informed their decision as to whether to go for the extra AppleCare or not. The thing is, they thought the choice was between AppleCare and a 1 year warranty.... but it wasn't. They were misinformed, by the same party who was profiting from decision, and thus had motive to mislead them.

      • Re:AppleCare (Score:5, Insightful)

        by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:45PM (#38516170) Homepage Journal

        If they had informed their customers of the 2 year warranty that they were entitled to by law,

        Every european customer is supposed to know

        that. Without seeing the actual court ruling I only can assume that some customer rights organizations filed a suit because they found the apple advertizings missleading.

        The thing is, they thought the choice was between AppleCare and a 1 year warranty.... but it wasn't. They were misinformed, by the same party who was profiting from decision, and thus had motive to mislead them.

        That is what the newspapers claim, and the court (seems to have) ruled. However I find this unbelieveable.
        Every product in the EU since ages has a law gurranteed 2 years "guarranty". If you see how few people buy the AppleCare extra guarranty I find this whole case bollocks ...

        • by Shavano (2541114)
          It's nonsense to say that every European purchaser understands European consumer protection laws. And it is absolutely right to find that if Apple sold the extended warranty making a claim that the warranty on hardware was extended by a year, that was false advertising and purchasers are owed a refund for the portion of their extended warranty that is due to the cost of the hardware warranty. And the Apple on-line service that's included isn't worth much. You can get pretty good free support on-line.
          • It may be more of a difference in cultures and laws. In the states, the default is that caveat emptor where the buyer is responsible for doing the necessary research whereas in Italy their view is the seller is responsible for informing the buyer. Note that Apple isn't being fined for not honoring the warranties merely not making it explicitly clear about the warranty coverage period.
          • Ah, so you know exactly the exact wording Apple was using? You are sure that Apple made "false claims"? Do you have any links to that?
            I doubt heavyly, that Apple made any claims at all. They only offered their AppleCare package.
            However, as the Italian Apple Stores are run by Italians and we all know how Italians are ... perhaps they indeed did that ;D
            I for my part rather believe the "consumer rights organizations" and the "judge" had an easy victory on some misswordings than on a "great rip of schema" by Ap

        • If they had informed their customers of the 2 year warranty that they were entitled to by law,

          Every european customer is supposed to know that.

          *snip*

          Every product in the EU since ages has a law gurranteed 2 years "guarranty".

          That's funny because the consumer agency of at least one EU country begs to differ [kuluttajavirasto.fi]

          The warranty provided for home appliances is often 1-2 years. Their expected service life - depending on the appliance - is, however, often much longer. If an appliance breaks down immediately after the warranty has expired, the cost of repairs is substantial and the consumer has not operated the appliance contrary to the operating instructions, he may appeal to the appliance's service life.

          I can't be bothered to go through

          • Lol,

            I'm not certain to what extend finland is in the EU.

            Calling this untrue makes no real sense. Even if I make a mistake here or there, for Italy my general statement stands ;D

            Also note please: warranty / guarantee - this is what companies grant voluntarily. The law demands "defects liability". Perhaps I should be more clear there ... want to google and search again?

        • by Ecuador (740021)

          At least in Greece, not only Apple advertises a 1-year warranty, but if your device fails within the 2-year time-frame and you go to the authorized dealer and cite the EU regulation they will simply respond "apple provides a 1 year warranty, nothing we can do". They won't easily budge so from then on good luck with the consumer protection groups which have no real power or the legal system which is costly and takes time and effort.
          So it is not just advertising, at least in some EU countries, apple is actual

  • by Sique (173459) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:29PM (#38515970) Homepage

    The abstract is at least as misleading as Apple's warranty terms, it seems. The mandated two year warranty has nothing to do with a manufacturer's warranty. The two year mandated warranty

    a) covers only faults that where present at the time of the sale.
    b) has to be given by the seller of the product, independent from any manufacturer (how the seller gets back to the manufacturer for cover is up to them).

    Only if Apple is the seller of the items (e.g. through the Apple Stores), it has to adhere to the rules. And then the terms of business or the advertising for the extended warranty must not be misleading about the coverage the buyer is entitled to anyway.
     

    • by Anonymous Coward

      DIRECTIVE 1999/44/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

      of 25 May 1999

      on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees

      THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

      Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 95 thereof,

      Having regard to the proposal from the Commission(1),

      Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee(2),

      Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the

    • by mikkelm (1000451)

      The abstract doesn't even mention a manufacturer's warranty. It isn't misleading in the least. I also think it's safe to assume that Apple is the seller of the item, and that the "terms of business or the advertising for the extended warranty" was misleading, since they were fined $1.2 million USD.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:43PM (#38516150)
    Apple is being fined because Italy feels that Apple doesn't make it explicitly clear to Italians that Apple abides with Italian consumer codes that in Italy, Apple warranties last 2 years instead of their standard 1 year. Italy feels that some consumers may have purchased AppleCare when they didn't need to purchase it. AppleCare increases the coverage terms and time period. On the English version [apple.com] it seems clear but since I don't read Italian [apple.com]very well, I don't know if it is clear on the Italian version. Also I don't know if Apple has recently changed their pages.
  • What really happened:

    1. EU mandates 6 month + 18 months of warranty for manufacturing defects. Six months the burden of proof is on the seller, 18 on the consumer. There are some exceptions and the rules are defined quite well, but this is the general way it works. This warranty doesn't cover wear and tear (unless wear and tear is caused by manufacturing defect).
    2. Apple complied with the warranty, but tried to market apprecare plan by obfuscating the fact that customer had the right to warranty during two

  • by StikyPad (445176) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @02:56PM (#38517774) Homepage

    Antitrust Authority: We will fine them... ONE MILLION DOLLARS!
    Apple Customer: Don't you think we should ask for *more* than a million dollars? A million dollars isn't exactly a lot of money these days. Apple alone made over 25 billion dollars last year!
    Antitrust Authority: Really? That's a lot of money.
    [pause]
    Antitrust Authority: Okay then, we will fine them... One... Point Two... MILLION DOLLARS!

  • The way the mandatory two year warranty as mandated by the EU is implemented is very different from AppleCare and AppleCare goes beyond it. If a fault becomes apparent after more than six months after you buy the device you as the customer have to prove that the fault is due to some technical problem that was caused during the manufacturing of the device. This is pretty much impossible to do without the help of a lawyer. So technically a company can refuse to pay for any repair after six months and there is

RADIO SHACK LEVEL II BASIC READY >_

Working...