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Belgian Consumer Organization Sues Apple For Not Respecting Warranty Law 168

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the obey-the-speed-limit dept.
New submitter thygate writes with news of more trouble for Apple with its warranty terms complying with E.U. regulations. From the press release: "For many years warranty issues are at the top of the charts of complaints dealt with by consumer organizations. One of the recurring problems are the complaints about Apple. 'Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats' found major problems fixed on the information provided by Apple and its authorized distributors regarding the legal guarantee, the commercial one year warranty, and the warranty extension through the 'AppleCare Protection Plan' of 2 or 3 years. A lawsuit against Apple has been filed (English translation; original)) with the Commercial Court of Brussels. In a precedent in Italy, The commercial practices of Apple were found to be misleading. Apple was sentenced to pay € 900,000 and was obliged to change their contractual legal warranty and guarantees to consumers."
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Belgian Consumer Organization Sues Apple For Not Respecting Warranty Law

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  • by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @01:24AM (#42588895)

    for his iPad. Kept it in a heavy duty switcheasy cover and everything. One day, in front of my eyes, he opened the cover, set the iPad sideways down on the inside of the cover's padded surface, and a huge crack occured, running the length of the screen. Luckily it was only on the black bezel, so it didn't impact use at first after putting duct tape over it to protect the fingers.

    The entire machine was mint, no scratches, no dings on the side, since it was in a case in it's entire life, the crack itself was some long weird trench that imploded. It was apparent that it wasn't some outside force, no center impact spot nor spiderwebbing outwards.

    Even with Apple Care, Apple wouldn't replace it other than to say it would cost $250 to replace it with same model. Which is kinda ridiculous. The screen worked, it was just the digitizer that I found out later costs $60 on iFixit.

    Applecare may have been worth it for past notebooks but not anything else. Most other venders extended warranties attempt to provide some value for the money. The current line of notebooks in the office seem solid, back in the mid-00s, it seemed some Powerbook would blow their motherboard every so often, and some 2-3 times in a row.

  • Re:Precedent? (Score:5, Informative)

    by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @01:33AM (#42588927)

    Even then, Belgium and Italy are fully independent judiciaries. What is law in Italy is not necessarily law in Belgium. Though of course with the EU slowly but surely laws in the various member countries are getting aligned.

    A much better expression would be "a similar case".

    Nevertheless, court cases are sometimes filed to test or clarify the law in those jurisdictions. If a court rules one way in one case, it will likely rule the same way in a highly similar case.

  • by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @02:02AM (#42589007)

    Apple Care is extended warranty, and is not insurance. I doubt you would get a replacement for notebook either.

  • by Psilax (1297141) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @02:20AM (#42589057)
    In Europe there is a consumer law that demands that the sales person of a electronics device is required to give 2 years guarantee for free. So what our consumer-organisation is suing for is that apple only give 1 year and sells the other year for a profit while this should be free. (Or roughly something like that) But off course this will not make a lot of difference since 1million euros is hardly a dent in Apple profits around here since a couple of schools are starting to make iPad a basic necessity for education and others are looking at them as an example instead of going for the open-source android communities.
  • Re:Precedent? (Score:5, Informative)

    by patrickv (3481) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @02:56AM (#42589131) Homepage

    The case starts in Italy (=state law) and is passed up to the European court in Brussels (=federal law). Do not let a Europhile read those terms but that is what it is equivalent to. It does not matter what is decided at local level, if Brussels decides otherwise the local law is trumped.

    It is not passed up to an "European court". It is a Belgian court seated in Brussels which will have to rule according to Belgian law. Both The Italian and Belgian courts have some common ground, because the national laws are based on EU directives. EU directives are legal frameworks, but leave it up to national laws to decide on fines, for example.
    The European court of justice is seated in Luxembourg, and has no business in the present case.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @03:07AM (#42589153) Homepage

    how is Apple misleading customers?

    Probably the same way they were in the UK [wired.co.uk] and Italy. [bbc.co.uk] Apple was using false and misleading advertising to sell unnecessary "AppleCare" coverage when EU law required a 2-year warranty built into the price of the product.

  • Re:Precedent? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ta_gueule (2795275) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @03:37AM (#42589243)
    "stare decisis" is a legal term. "Precedent" is a common term. This article is not written for lawyers like you so you can not sue them over the use of the term. There is indeed a precedent in Italy because it happened before this, and the 3 years legal guarantee is European law. Each state can implement European law the way they want but they both have to implement it.
  • by turbidostato (878842) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @03:50AM (#42589273)

    "What the hell are you talking about? The EU/US price difference doesn't come from this. It's because none of these things are assembled or manufactured here, everything is imported."

    What the hell are you talking about? It is long ago that prices are unrelated to costs but to whatever the buyer is wanting to pay.

  • Re:Precedent? (Score:5, Informative)

    by silentcoder (1241496) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @04:55AM (#42589425) Homepage

    There is also the fact that even where precedent does not apply judges do look strongly at what other judges in similar cases elsewhere had found and consider their rulings very highly when making their own determinations.
    It's still quite common for example for Judges in the US to look at rulings under British case-law where similar cases were decided although British courts have no precedent-power over US ones, the findings of those judges are useful. For starters if there are evidentiary differences it may well be useful to ask "why" (particularly when the same companies are involved).

  • Re:Precedent? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Luckyo (1726890) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @07:54AM (#42590019)

    That would be because US has largely derived its system from British case law.

    Tell that to an Italian who worked in the system, and you'll be laughed out of the room as an "ignorant yankee". And he'll be correct.

    Remember, while Old World's legal system are generally derived from combination of Roman justice system, Catholic courts and to an extent Napoleon Code, they have extreme nationalist pride of thousands of years that they in fact represent justice in their own country, and other country's justice has nothing to do with it.

    The reason why this is filed in Brussels is because Brussels is Belgian capital city. Italian case was tried in Italian courts, that have a very different system. As grandparent point out, there's little to no stare decisis between two systems, for obvious reasons of these being different court systems. About the only comparison that could be drawn is that both laws are drawn on basis of the same EU directive. But even these laws are only BASED on the directive, and typically implement it in different ways to suit each country's legal system. A great example of this has been the copyright legislation, which varies from it being legal to download whatever you want for your personal use in Spain to it being illegal here in Finland. All based on the same directive.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Tuesday January 15, 2013 @08:28AM (#42590147)
    In some countries (your mileage may vary) there is an implied statutory warranty that the product will operate properly for the reasonable lifetime of the product. This is ADDITIONAL TO the express manufacturer's warranty. It doesn't cover wear and tear and obviously doesn't cover abuse either, but does mean the product must function properly and do what it is supposed to do. If it doesn't, you are entitled to a remedy: a refund, replacement, etc., to be mutually agreed between you and the seller.

    Most consumers are ignorant of their statutory warranty rights, so when a manufacturer provides a 12 month warranty consumers think if it breaks a day after that they aren't covered. Not true, though they may have to approach the manufacturer directly instead of the retailer. Another is that when a manufacturer advertises "a lifetime warranty" you already have one by law anyway, so they are only telling you what they have to give you anyway. And finally it means that Extended Warranties are usually a complete waste of money: They are getting you to pay for a right you already have by law anyway.

    Again, your mileage may vary. Talk to your local consumer affairs bureau to find your local rules. Be warned that retailers can be real pricks about warranties , and sometimes consumer affairs will need to come in with a baseball bat and remind them if your statutory rights. Manufacturers would prefer it if you didn't know any of this. Also sometimes a manufacturer will insist you pay for return shipping or drop off at your own expense. Check your local laws: they might be obliged to pick up the cost or do this for you.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Commercial_Code [wikipedia.org] Implied Warranties US
    http://www.apple.com/au/legal/statutory-warranty/ [apple.com] Statutory Warranties AU
    http://www.dtvforum.info/index.php?showtopic=84941 [dtvforum.info] Statutory Warranties AU
    http://www.consumerlaw.gov.au/content/the_acl/downloads/consumer_guarantees_guide.pdf [consumerlaw.gov.au] Most Recent Laws AU
    http://au.news.yahoo.com/today-tonight/consumer/article/-/9803967/worthless-warranties/ [yahoo.com] Extended Warranty


    One bonus tip for reading this far: Merchants often trick people into accepting warranties with clauses waiving your statutory rights, no returns signs and the like. It often works by dissuading from trying, but if it goes to a small claims court the judge will draw a big line through them.

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