Apple Modifies EU Warranty Protections, May Not Be Enough

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EU WarrantyImages via Shutterstock

Apple modified its product warranty program in the European Union late last week in response to an Italian legal defeat in late March resulting from differences between Apple’s standard warranty programs and enhanced consumer protection laws present in the EU.

The change to Apple’s program, applicable only in the EU, clarifies that all included warranties on products sold by Apple, including non-Apple-branded accessories, are valid for at least two years (with significant exceptions, outlined below), with AppleCare still available to cover the third year of certain products for an additional cost.

Apple’s change in direction was prompted by the company’s unsuccessful appeal of a US$1.2 million fine by the Italian government on March 22. By offering only a one year warranty on products sold by Apple directly to consumers, even though EU law requires a minimum of two years, Apple “mislead” consumers about the benefits and necessity of its AppleCare extended warranty program, according to the Italian court as it interpreted EU consumer protection law.

“When you purchase Apple products, European Union consumer law provides statutory warranty rights in addition to the coverage you receive from the Apple One-Year Limited Warranty and the optional AppleCare Protection Plan,” Apple now states on the websites of EU member nations.

Due to discrepancies between the language of Apple’s warranty and EU consumer law, however, many consumers are still upset with Apple and unsure about the warranty status of their products. 

EU law states that the required warranty only covers defects that are “present when customer takes delivery.” Apple’s warranty, however, covers defects present, “after customer takes delivery.” As Apple states in footnote 1 of its EU Warranty Page:

In most EU member states, consumers may only claim for defects that were present on delivery. There are some exceptions including Czech Republic and Romania. The burden to prove that the defect existed on delivery generally shifts to the consumer after the expiry of a period of 6 months from date of delivery. Examples of countries where the burden of proof does not shift include Czech Republic, Portugal and Romania.

The prima facie result of Apple’s interpretation is that nothing truly changes as a result of Apple’s warranty modifications. By Apple’s definition, only defects actually present at the time of delivery will extend the warranty to two years, but, if that’s the case, the customer would already qualify for service under Apple’s one-year warranty. The only beneficiaries of the new policy, as currently worded, would be those consumers who notice a defect at delivery but fail to seek a repair or replacement within the first year.

EU’s case law, however, has declared that general defects arising within the first two years of ownership to be a result of the manufacturing process and thus present upon delivery. This interpretation may force Apple to further modify its warranty program in order to avoid additional legal action in other EU member states.

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I am extremly disappointed with your article. This is just a lack of basic reading comprehension. Apple hasn’t made any changes to its warranty. What Apple has done is clarifying what EU law says about the rights of a buyer against the seller of any goods, what manufacturer’s warranty Apple gives, and what rights are available by buying AppleCare.

If anyone is “unsure” as you claim, that’s really simple: The EU gives the consumer rights against the seller, that is the shop where the product is bought. It doesn’t say anything at all about the relationship between customer and manufacturer. That’s column 1 of Apple’s website. It says what rights you have against PC World if you buy an iMac or an HP computer, or against your phone store if they sell you an iPhone. Or against Apple if you buy a Western Digital hard drive at the Apple store.

In the second column, Apple tells you what manufacturer’s warranty Apple gives you when you buy products made by Apple. There is nothing that the EU requires Apple or any other manufacturer to do in this area. Apple is allowed to use any rules they like for their manufacturer’s warranty.

And then Apple makes it perfectly clear how this works: If you have a problem with a product, you check what rights you have against the seller. And you check what manufacturer’s warranty you have. And then you decide whether you go to the seller if EU law says they have to fix the problem, or you go to Apple if Apple’s manufacturer’s warranty says Apple has to fix the problem.

Lee Dronick

Great graphic Jim!

Jim Tanous

I am extremly disappointed with your article. This is just a lack of basic reading comprehension.

Hi gnasher,

Thanks for the feedback. While the recognition and forced publication of EU law does, in many cases, change/enhance/modify the Apple warranty by definition, I agree that my third paragraph was poorly worded. It has now been clarified.

I hope the disappointment I caused you is short lived and that it does not ruin an otherwise pleasant day.


Jim Tanous

Great graphic Jim!

Thanks, Lee!

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