Apple’s Warranty Practices Still Not Good Enough for Europe
Apple, which in 2011 was fined $1.2 million for allegedly upselling its Italian customers into AppleCare extended warranties despite their overlap with the standard two-year product warranty required by European law, on Tuesday was singled out by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding as evidence of the need for better cooperation on consumer protection issues across the EU. Last fall, Reding sent letters to the EU’s 27 member states asking them to review Apple’s warranty practices. She wasn’t at all pleased with the result.
“This case and the responses I received since I sent my letter have highlighted rather clearly just why the commission cannot sit on the side-lines on enforcement issues,” Reding said. “The approaches to enforcement in these types of cases turn out to be very diversified and inconsistent at a national level. In at least 21 EU member states Apple is not informing consumers correctly about the legal warranty rights they have. This is simply not good enough.”
In other words, there’s no coordinated enforcement of EU consumer rules. Different EU countries have different practices and sanctions for violations of consumer protection law. The problem here, of course, is that most consumer protection powers in the EU are held at the national level. The EC can’t come after Apple for its warranty practices. It can only take legal action against countries that fail to enforce EU rules.