EU Unhappy With Apple Warranty Practices
Last winter, Apple was fined $1.2 million in Italy for its AppleCare product warranty marketing practices. Now, the company is facing scrutiny across the rest of Europe for similar reasons.
In a letter to European Union member states, first obtained by Bloomberg, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding asked if Apple has been properly notifying customers of the minimum two-year warranty they are entitled to under European law. “Apple prominently advertised that its products come with a one-year manufacturer warranty but failed to clearly indicate the consumers’ automatic and free-of-cost entitlement to a minimum two-year guarantee under EU law,” Reding wrote. “These are unacceptable marketing practices.”
Like Italy’s antitrust authority, Reding is concerned that Apple has been upselling EU customers into AppleCare extended warranties without properly explaining the two years of free assistance they are already entitled to under the EU Statutory Warranty.
Now, as I’ve noted here before, Apple disagrees with this characterization. It maintains that AppleCare is a different beast entirely from the mandatory EU warranty. AppleCare covers product defects that occur after a product is purchased. The EU warranty covers only pre-existing defects present at the time of sale and doesn’t guarantee consumers access to Apple telephone technical support and, for some products, express replacement service. And, importantly, Apple does describe the differences between the two on its Web site. The question the EU seems to be asking, though, is does Apple proactively explain consumer warranty options at the time of sale.
Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment.