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Apple Sued By Belgian Consumer Association For Not Applying EU Warranty Laws 290

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the regulation-is-only-ok-if-it-benefits-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Following the recent Italian case, Apple is now being sued by the Belgian consumer association 'Test-Achats' (french/dutch website) for not applying the EU consumer protection laws by only giving a one-year warranty on its products. At the same time, Apple is not only refusing to give the mandatory two-year warranty but is also selling the additional year of warranty with its Applecare products. If the consumer association wins its case, Apple could be forced to refund Applecare contracts to its Belgian customers while providing the additional year of warranty for free."
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Apple Sued By Belgian Consumer Association For Not Applying EU Warranty Laws

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  • Re:EU wide? (Score:4, Informative)

    by klingens (147173) on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:33PM (#39410367)

    They do. Consumer protection associations all over the EU are working on it in pretty much every member country.
    However, the EU only decides on directives, to put these into law, each member country has to write their own law to comply with their own constitution and other legal principles separately. Therefore to stop such an infringement, every country has to have its own lawsuit or other compliance process to rectify transgressions against a EU decision.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheSunborn (68004) <tiller&daimi,au,dk> on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:41PM (#39410401)

    Does this mean secondhand sales are illegal?

    No the 2 year warrenty is only for new goods. And if you sell secondhand within the 2 years the original warranty(The one you got when you bought the product as new) will stil cover the product.

    And I need to ask: What kind of electronic products do you buy which are expected to break down within a year?

  • Re:Too long? (Score:4, Informative)

    by srjh (1316705) on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:41PM (#39410405)

    Warranties are also supposed to cover defects that materialise after some time and are not apparent at purchase.

    Here in Australia, the law covers how long the item is reasonably expected to last, given its cost and quality. Given that the phones are often sold with two year contracts, the one year warranty is certainly deficient from that perspective. Having had two iPhones fail between the one year warranty and the two that should apply, I'm not too pleased about Apple dodging their responsibilities under our warranty law.

    A $1000 phone that only lasts 13 months can't really be considered of merchantable quality, regardless of how quickly the industry progresses.

  • Re:So wait . . . (Score:4, Informative)

    by Idbar (1034346) on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:42PM (#39410409)
    Nah. They probably just charge more in the EU to cover the extra year of warranty.
  • Re:Test-Achats (Score:4, Informative)

    by sg_oneill (159032) on Monday March 19, 2012 @11:55PM (#39410477)

    I think we need something here in australia too. I've had a long running dispute with apple for "cancelling" my one year warranty over what it claims is water damage (but was confirmed by a third party repairer to not be water damage at all) , when australian law is really specific that you cant actually cancel warranty unless damage is *caused* by user misuse. The govt body in charge of such things here has acknowledged that I'm in the right after investigating but pretty much said they'd probably need a bunch more cases to be worth taking them to court over it.

    Also they by law have to sell end users spare-parts once the warranty has ended, but they dont, and thats a big no-no.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Savantissimo (893682) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:00AM (#39410499) Journal

    A primary function of regulators in the marketplace is to define standard units of measure and minimum terms of standard classes of contracts, such as contracts for retail sale of durable goods. Just as standards for weight of produce are needed, so too are standards of durability for durable goods, otherwise the customer can't compare costs on a level basis.

  • Re:So wait . . . (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:41AM (#39410647)

    If they lose, basically all they have is a free loan for the amount of the Applecare contracts that they have to refund? No fine or anything? I'm surprised more people aren't trying to get away with it.

    Modified that a bit there. Indeed, the worst case scenario is that you get to take people's money and effectively get an interest-free loan if you have to give it back. Assuming that a lot of people don't apply for the refund, there's that too. Best case scenario is you get away with it if you don't get sued.

    So yeah, where's the deterrent?

  • by Udo Schmitz (738216) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @01:51AM (#39410929) Journal

    You may be surprised that a summary on /. is less than correct ... OK I'll leave the snark out.

    Repeat after me: *There is NO “mandatory 2 years warranty” in the European Union*

    What there is, is a “Maengelhaftung”, which is usually translated to “Liability for defects”. This is to be granted by the *seller* of a consumer good to a consumer. It is valid for 2 years from the date of purchase. Any defect showing in the first 6 months is assumed to be a manufacturing error, burden of proof of the opposite is with the seller, for the remaining 18 months the customer has to proof that the defect was already present at time of purchase.

    As Apple sells its products in its own stores in europe (online included) it adheres to EU law, if Apple products are sold through a third party, the consumer has to deal with that third party.

    Apple grants a voluntary 1 year warranty. This actually strengthens the purchasers position, because the above mentioned “burden of proof” now lies with Apple for the first *12* months. No consumer advocacy group in Europe has a problem with this.

    But Apple additionally sells “Apple Care” contracts, which extend Apples warranty to three years. If you read closely this far, you'll notice that this is a much better protection for the consumer than the mandatory “Liability for defects” the EU imposes and absolutely doesn't touch this EU Directive. Regardless of any voluntary or sold warranty the EU Directive still stands.

    Now, what the european consumer advocacy groups say is that Apple misleads the already (through the “Liability for defects” EU Directive) fine protected consumer into believing they wouldn't be protected after 12 months without buying Apple Care. If people are very stupid, and often they are, this could very well be the case.

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31999L0044:EN:HTML [europa.eu]

  • Re:Test-Achats (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ambvai (1106941) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @02:29AM (#39411025)

    I remember this consumer group did this thing for the first iPhone after a rash of complaints where Apple rejected warranty claims, citing water damage. In an attempt to prove that rejecting claims based on faulty sensors, they bought a new iPhone from an Apple store on a day with near 100% humidity. When they cracked it open, the moisture-sensitive tabs were already triggered.

    I can't find the exact same story, but here's something that covered pretty much the same thing. http://consumerist.com/2010/08/can-high-humidity-void-your-iphones-warranty.html [consumerist.com]

  • by Sique (173459) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @02:31AM (#39411033) Homepage

    You don't even grasp the slightest bit of that law (and thus you are the one with the magical thinking).
    It goes like this: For two years, a consumer has the right to return a good (and either replace it with a similar product or get a refund), if it was already defective at the time it was sold. For the first six month after the sale, it is assumed, that any defect occuring was already present at the time of the sale, and the seller has to prove that the buyer didn't handle the product with care. For the remaining 18 month, it's assumed, that the product was mishandled, and then the buyer has to prove that the defect was present already at the time of the sale.

    So nowhere this law assumes that products are faultfree for at least two years.

    But AppleCare's warranties cover, what is already mandated by law, and the law requires that all warranties have to inform the prospective buyer about the legal protection he already has. And this is ommitted by AppleCare, thus it fraudulently sold a product to the buyer the buyer didn't really need.

  • European Warranty (Score:5, Informative)

    by ovande (2599137) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @02:59AM (#39411157)
    Some explanation about the 2 year warranty in Europe. This was a 1999 EC directive ( (Directive 1999/44/EC) . From 2005 it became law in a lot of European countries. Initially this directive was to curb cheap imports from Asia. Manufacturers - like Apple and others - were not targets. In fact , retailers are solely responsible for all warranty repairs. Now comes the tricky bit: in lot's of cases retailers were not covered for the second year warranty by their suppliers. That why they forced the unnecessary Applecare upon their clients. But now : If you buy an Apple product online they become a retailer , so they had to comply with the EC directive. Which they did not. The headline is somewhat misleading. It's not only Belgium. There are 10 other countries involved.
  • Re:Too long? (Score:4, Informative)

    by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@nexusukGAUSS.org minus math_god> on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @03:10AM (#39411195) Homepage

    How about a battery that runs out of cycles in normal use after 15 months?

    Got caught by that one myself a few years back... My Acer laptop battery died after about 15 months, Acer told me that it was a "consumable" and therefore refused to replace it under the 2 year warranty (notably the replacement battery I bought has now died after a similar length of time, which suggests to me that the fault is in the laptop, not the battery). The upshot of all this is that neither myself, nor my business will ever touch an Acer product and we recommend to our customers that they avoid Acer too.

    There were other problems that Acer refused to deal with. For example, the DSDT is broken on this hardware (Travelmate 6413), and Acer refused to acknowledge any fault or release a new BIOS, despite me fixing the DSDT and sending them the fixed code.

  • Re:So wait . . . (Score:5, Informative)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @03:21AM (#39411237) Homepage

    Generally speaking in most EU countries the law is restorative, i.e. it aims to put things back as they would otherwise have been. Hence there is usually not a punitive fine unless the regulator imposes, which I'd say is a distinct possibility in this case.

    Also we usually don't have to apply for this type of refund, it will be automatic.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @03:27AM (#39411267) Homepage

    Additionally UK citizens have additional rights. Anything over £100 paid for on credit card makes the credit card provider liable as if you you had bought it from them, meaning you can always pursue them for warranty claims or a refund even if the retailer goes bust. In fact you don't need to even pay £100 on the card, the item simply has to cost over £100, i.e. you could pay £99.99 in cash and 1p by card and still be covered. Some women are now getting faulty breast implant refunds this way after having paid small deposits on card.

    We also have the Sale of Goods Act (SOGA) which says that goods must last a "reasonable length of time", which for things like computers and TVs is considered to be around six years. If the device fails before that time you are entitled to a partial refund based on how much use you had out of it, or of course the retailer can choose to replace the item.

    It is also worth noting that your warranty is with the retailer, not the manufacturer. Of course Apple is both in this case, but it is worth remembering as many manufacturers try to fob customers off with "contact the manufacturer" when in fact they are required to handle the whole process.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @03:35AM (#39411287)

    If only there was some way to measure the value added to a product and tax it...

  • Re:So what... (Score:4, Informative)

    by moronoxyd (1000371) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @03:48AM (#39411327)

    Market dictates that if Apple products sold in EU countries come with 2 year Apple care

    That is NOT the case.

    The mandatory warranty does not cover everything Applecare covers, so Apple can still sell Applecare as an ADDITIONAL warranty to consumers.
    But Apple has to inform the customers of this choice, rather than implying that a product without Applecare is not protected.

    Besides, most products are already more expensive in the EU, in part to cover this mandatory warranty and the fact that prices for consumers have to include VAT.

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