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

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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  • EU wide? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Formalin ( 1945560 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:24AM (#39410333)

    If the consumer association wins it's case, Apple could be forced to refund Applecare contracts to it's Belgian customers while providing the additional year of warranty for free.

    Wouldn't they have to honour it in all of the EU, being EU law..?

    I'm rather surprised they have been getting away with this, as it is. I thought EU was pretty strict with consumer rights, and would deal with it directly (as opposed to this independent organisation suing). Hrmm...

  • Re:Too long? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Avarist ( 2453728 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:34AM (#39410369)

    Isn't it unreasonable to require a warranty longer than a year for a consumer product? Realistically, if the device you bought is defective you should realize it within a few months. But certainly a year is long enough to notice a defect and get a replacement/repair.

    Isn't it unreasonable to require your device to work properly for longer than a year. Realistically, if the device breaks down within two years it's poorly fabricated. But certainly if the device breaks down sooner and you have to buy a new one, the company makes more money.

  • Seriously? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by schmidt349 ( 690948 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:35AM (#39410373)

    Are you kidding me? I mean, the EU has some pretty solid consumer and worker protection laws that I like quite a bit, but let me get this straight, they mandate the duration of warranty? Does this mean secondhand sales are illegal? What about consumer products not intended to last two years, are those just banned outright?

    Nobody says you have to buy Apple's products. Your opt-out is your wallet. I'm sure there are smartphones, computers, and tablets available with more favorable terms of warranty. What is the justification for this kind of heavy-handedness?

    Thank God you've got France right there, or else you might not have enough cheese to go with all that whine.

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

    by MtHuurne ( 602934 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:37AM (#39410387) Homepage

    Wouldn't they have to honour it in all of the EU, being EU law..?

    As far as I know, most "EU law" is actually EU guidelines that are put into national laws by the member states. So the member states will have very similar laws, but it's not a single law that is applied to the entire EU.

    In the case of Apple's warranty, there was an item about this yesterday in a Dutch consumer rights TV program (Radar). They said there was a lawsuit in Italy about this exact same issue and Apple lost there. So it's likely Apple will lose similar suits in other EU countries, but separate lawsuits are needed for each country.

  • Re:Test-Achats (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @01:19AM (#39410579)

    Try making at the Small Claim tribunal or court of your state.

    More information here:

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @01:44AM (#39410657) Journal

    The problem isn't that Apple has been getting away with it, if you insist, Apple folds pretty damn quickly, the problem is that you got to fight them. Sony tried to pull a similar stunt with the PSP and its lousy display with lots of dead pixels, Holland was the only place in the world where Sony officially agreed to replace any PSP with any malfunctioning sub-pixel. If you insisted yourself in a shop in another country you would probably have had it replaced BUT the law states that this should be the norm, not just for the customer who insists on his rights.

    Apple is one of the worsed performers in this area, they have no problem charging far higher prices in the EU for the supposed thougher regulation but then try to withold the extra support that is needed. Probably because Apple is an extremely American company and they just can't grasp that in some parts of the world, they can't have it all their way.

    The odd thing is that Europe is far easier to deal in, yes, there are longer warranties but then again, nobody can sue for millions for trivial cases. Warranty costs can be easily calculated and avoided with good QA (haha, Apple and QA) but frivolous lawsuits can come out at your right out of the blue.

  • Warranty lengths (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @03:37AM (#39411061) Homepage Journal

    I believe that the warranty length does have an effect on product design though. If you only have to worry about maintaining something at your own expense for 1 year, you'll design it differently than if you have to support it for 2, 5 or whatever.

    Because you want to sell at the lowest price possible, if you have to warranty it to the point where repair/replacement costs become too significant, building it better is actually cheaper than providing warranty support.

    Now, I'm normally free market as all heck. But look at the environmental chain - building a fridge that has an average lifespan last a decade might cost 10% more than one that will only last 5. But 2 fridges, each with 90% of the resources of the long lasting one, is still 180% of the resources. Sure, they might be 90% recyclable, but you're still down.

    Where does the problem come in? Nobody really offers the longer warranties by choice. I'm forced to go by brand name, consumer reports, and hopefully luck. Brand Name - quality ebbs and flows. Consumer reports doesn't get enough time to test, especially since quality varies over the years. That leaves mostly luck.

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

    by mrvan ( 973822 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @06:29AM (#39411629)

    I'm not a lawyer, and certainly not a Belgian one, but as far as I understand this is a civil case. In civil cases, the rules for evidence are much more lenient compared to criminal cases (eg less formal requirements and preponderance of evidence compared to very strict evidence rules and a full burden of proof on the accuser). For that reason, the outcome of civil suits is compensation and restoration, not punishment.

    If you think civil cases should result in punitive sanctions, think about American music industry. They (ab)use the civil court system to sue infringers, threatening with statutory punitive damages. In (most of?) the EU, you can sue for copyright infringement, but the maximum damages are the actual and provable damages caused by the sued party.

    Or did you want punitive damages only for the "bad guys"... that would make for some interesting legislation :-)

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