Apple hit with $264,000 fine in Italian AppleCare case
Italian regulators have issued Apple a final fine 200,000 euros, or about $264,000, over the company's handling of AppleCare warranties, reports say. Although the <em>Autorita Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato</em> notes that Apple has since fixed its warranty policies, it <a href="http://macnn.com/rd/276134==http://thenextweb.com/apple/2012/12/21/apple-clears-italian-applecare-antitrust-investigation-but-not-before-receiving-another-264000-fine/" rel='nofollow'>states</a> that between March 28 and November 10, the company was continuing to fraudulently suggest that an AppleCare plan was needed for two years of warranty coverage, when in reality local laws guarantee that as a minimum. Apple was fined À900,000 ($1.2 million) in March when the Italian government began cracking down on AppleCare marketing.<br><br>With the latest fine, the AGCM has closed the case on the AppleCare issue. In all, Apple has made 14 changes to its stores, terms, and website that took effect by or before November 10. The company has also gone to the extreme of <a href="http://macnn.com/rd/276087==http://www.ipodnn.com/articles/12/11/13/option.still.being.sold.online/" rel='nofollow'>pulling AppleCare from its Italian retail stores</a>, limiting Italian access to only versions sold online.
The À200,000 breaks down into six smaller fines. Apple Sales International has been tagged for À120,000; Apple Italia owes À40,000, and Apple Retail Italia is due for another À40,000.
AppleCare is a very different set of services than the legally required warranty.
The legal warranty only covers defects already inherent to the device at purchase (defined as having shown up within six months).
These are covered for two years, but after six months, it is up to you to prove that the fault already existed at date of purchase.
The EU warranty was designed primarily to protect buyers of things like used cars purchased from dealers.
This is a very different thing from the voluntary warranty provided by AppleCare.
Apple was faulted simply for not explicitly clarifying the legal warranty in their sales literature, not because AppleCare is some sort of shit product.
This is so far beyond absurd...
Let's take an example: you buy a microwave oven with a 24 months warranty. And after 18 months it stops working. And you really think that I - the buyer - have to prove that the failure showed up in the first 6 months or that it's an already inherent defect? How should I prove that as a customer? Should I pay a separate institution to analyze the microwave and research every little piece of the device?
Come on. It's actually easy: warranty protects the customer and claims that the device/product will work without any problems for the period of the warranty. If a problem appears on the last day of the warranty, you are equally protected as on the first day. Absolutely no crappy limits with some "only for errors which appear in the first 6 months" bullshit talk. Of course, the warranty doesn't protect if there is obvious a human factor involved or some other reason, but as long as it's obvious a defect in the material or built quality, warranty protects the customer.
It absolutely doesn't make a sense to give a two years warranty for a used product, man! Imagine, a dealer sells a 10 years old car and you really think he has to give you a two year warranty? :brick:
Having worked in computer sales for about eight years (before and after the EU warranty became law), I understand exactly where you are coming from, and I understand exactly your consternation over realizing for the first time what the EU legal warranty actually does.
What you describe in the bit I bolded above is EXACTLY HOW IT WORKS.
That is EXACTLY why the EU legal warranty is pretty much worthless for new products.
You're also confusing two entirely separate things: The EU legal warranty, and the MANUFACTURERS' voluntary warranty.
Here's how it works. Pay attention before insulting me again.
In a nutshell, the most important differences between the EU requirement and an actual warranty:
1. EU requirement is the DEALER'S responsibility. If you have a problem, you MUST go through the dealer. If you walk into CarreFour with a broken iMac you bought there, and they tell you it'll take six weeks to get repaired and suggest you go to Apple, and you actually take them up on that, BAM!—they're relieved of their responsibility, because you didn't actually give THEM the chance to honor the law.
A warranty is completely voluntary, and is generally MANUFACTURER responsibility, and will generally be honored, whichever route you take to get a problem addressed (though restrictions may apply as to authorized repair centers and the like). There are other voluntary dealer warranties (the "extended service packages" or whatever that many dealers offer) as obvious exceptions, so I won't go into those here.
2. EU requirement covers problems extant AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE. The law states that if a problem arises within the first six months, it can be treated as having existed at the time of purchase. If it shows up after six months, it is UP TO THE CUSTOMER to PROVE to the dealer that the problem already existed, e.g. was a manufacturing defect or a design problem or a component problem. Good luck getting the lawyers and experts on board to prove your case. Oh, and you're paying for them unless you actually win in court.
A manufacturer's warranty generally covers anything of the "oh, it broke, but you didn't actually help break it" variety of failures (subject to the terms and exclusions within the warranty agreement).
3. Within the constraints of the EU requirement, if you have a problem, THE DEALER gets three chances to fix it; after that, you can insist on an alternative solution (whether refund, identical product, or voucher is up to the dealer's discretion, though).
A manufacturer's warranty is up to the terms of whatever the warranty agreement states. Generally, replacement or refund are entirely up to the discretion of the manufacturer, as well, but the dealer is out of the equation—he just passes products/money back and forth.
If you don't believe me, here's Apple UK's information page on the subject:
Apple" url="http://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/"]EU Consumer Law
Repair or replacement coverage for Defects present when customer takes delivery1
Footnote 1: 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 (including latent defects) existed on delivery generally shifts to the consumer after the expiry of a period of six months from date of delivery. Examples of countries where the burden of proof does not shift include Czech Republic, Portugal and Romania. [/quote]
I was not aware of these exceptions, as I worked in retail in Germany.
I was apparently incorrect about used sales, btw (only dealt with new sales): In used sales, the statutory warranty seems to be limited to ONE year, not two.
Case in point: I bought a used car FROM A DEALER before the new EU law was in place. After about a month, it turned out that the fuel pump was leaky due to old age, but that it had probably been tampered with to make it appear fine over the course of test drives and inspection. It was a 1,000€ problem, and I had no recourse against the dealer, even though the guy MUST have known about the issue when he sold the car to me. I would have had to go through court to try and prove that he defrauded me, and had I lost, I would have been out considerably more than the 1,000€ AND possibly had a lawsuit for libel on my heels.
Under the newer EU law, such a problem showing up within six months is his to deal with. End of story.
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