European Consumer Groups Challenge Apple Warranty Practices

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Apple’s practice of promoting AppleCare to extend warranties for its devices has come under scrutiny in the European Union. Italy has already fined Apple for misleading consumers, and groups representing consumers in other EU countries want a similar acknowledgement and an immediate end to the practice.


Apple states that its products all come with a one-year warranty and that extended coverage can be purchased through the AppleCare program at additional cost. However, EU law requires manufacturers to cover their products for two years. The groups are accusing Apple of unfair practices and misleading consumers with their advertising.

The European Consumer Organization’s director general, Monique Goyens, said “consumers should not be misled and confused as to fundamental EU consumer rights because a company wants to sell their commercial warranty services.” Goyens added that since Apple is a market leader, it’s “even more important” as their practices have a “wide impact.”

In December, Italy fined Apple €900,000 (US$1,180,000) for this practice. Apple is challenging that finding at a March 21st hearing. Italy is one of 11 countries represented by the groups making the current complaints.

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It might not be a case of intentionally misleading, but rather a mix up of the different laws in different companies.  Of course I don’t really know.  In any case, from this brief description it sound alike Apple is in the wrong and should update their marketing text in EU countries to say that Apple products come with two-year warranties and extended coverage can be purchased.  Change “one-year” to “two-year” and they’re done. 

They don’t even need to care about the fact that the added value of AppleCare is less, though they could if they want to and make AppleCare be 4 years in those countries or cost less for the same 3 years. (I doubt they want to do 4 years.)


Don’t forget that Applecare extends the free phone support from 90 days to 3 years (here in Oz)


I don’t recall any of the Europeans mentioned this when complaining that Apple products are more expensive over there.


Sounds to me like Apple just plain got lazy and translated their standard warranty into European languages without taking differing laws into account.  They will obviously need to write a different warranty for Europe, to account for European laws.

How they handle Apple Care is another matter. They basically have 4 choices: keep Apple Care at the same price with a 4 year extended warranty, reduce the price of Apple Care to reflect the reduced value (meaning Apple Care only adds 1 year instead of 2 to the standard warranty), keep Apple Care at the same price AND the same 3 year extended warranty (which could well result in further complaints), or, not offer Apple Care at all for European purchases.


There is no EU law requiring anything, and there is no EU law requiring a two year warranty. There is however a EU directive which requires every member state to write their own law with some minimum requirements. And since there is so much rubbish posted about the subject, you’ll need in every case a careful and competent translation of the text of the actual law in every country.

In the UK, a seller has to fix defects that were present at the time of the sale for a reasonable amount of time. “Reasonable” depends on the product. And six months after the sale, it is up to the customer to prove that the defect was present at the time of the sale, which is the hard bit.

With AppleCare, you get three years of warranty. But actually what you get by buying AppleCare is three years warranty, minus the one year that you got anyway, minus any protection given by the law of your country. All that Apple has to do is make clear exactly what you are getting. Apple is free to charge whatever they want to charge for this. The customer is free to accept the offer or not.

In the UK Apple Store, Apple uses the wording “AppleCare Protection Plan benefits are in addition to any legal rights provided by consumer protection laws in your jurisdiction”, which I think makes it perfectly clear what you are getting. Equivalent wording is used in the German and Spanish stores. This may be as a reaction to what happened in Italy, but it’s definitely enough for Apple to be legally safe.

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