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AppleCare pulled in Italy: now for the rest of Europe?

MacBook Pro Retina

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 14 Nov 2012 at 09:46

Apple has yanked AppleCare from Italian shelves following regulatory action, leading to questions about the future of its extended warranty care in the rest of the EU.

Earlier this year, Italy's competition watchdog issued Apple with a €900,000 fine for not making it clear to customers that they were entitled by EU law to a two-year warranty on products while trying to sell its own AppleCare coverage. The regulator also ordered Apple to change how it advertised the extended coverage.

An Apple spokesperson told Reuters that it was no longer selling its AppleCare Protection Plan in its stores or via resellers in Italy, although it can still be bought on its website as additional protection above the EU manufacturing fault guarantee.

The Italian regulator has accused Apple of encouraging customers to buy extra cover without explaining that the company has to offer a basic two-year warranty.

Apple has denied the accusation, and the two organisations remain in talks about the issue, with a final decision due at the the end of this month.

Apple has also faced wider pressure from the EU, with commissioner Viviane Reding calling on national regulators to keep an eye on how the tech giant sells its extended warranty plan.

"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," she said last month in a letter to ministers. "These are unacceptable marketing practices."

Apple has yet to say whether AppleCare will be removed from stores elsewhere in the EU, but it isn't publicly under pressure from regulators in other countries.

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User comments

3rd party products

I have a bigger problem with Apple's aftercare on 3rd party products that it sells. The website says to contact the manufacturer if faults arise, but legally Apple is the first point of call and should take responsibility.

By PaulOckenden on 14 Nov 2012

Since when have Apple been obliged to provide this cover? My father recently had to pay £120 for a refurbed iPhone 4S, less than 2 years old, after his went faulty after a clear firmware fault. Does this mean he had a legitimate claim under EU law for a free replacement?

By mark_brewster on 14 Nov 2012

Faulty Home Button

My nearly two year old iPhone 4 has a faulty home button. Apple quoted me £119 for a refurbished one as it was outside of its one year warranty. Under this EU law can i get it replaced under warranty?
There is much confusion here.

By clkenton on 14 Nov 2012

Faulty Home Button

My nearly two year old iPhone 4 has a faulty home button. Apple quoted me £119 for a refurbished one as it was outside of its one year warranty. Under this EU law can i get it replaced under warranty?
There is much confusion here.

By clkenton on 14 Nov 2012

Serious Point...

Will this now mean future Apple products won't be as hard to "get into"?

By TigerUnleashed on 14 Nov 2012

@mark_brewster and @clkenton - there's no easy answer. After six months, the onus is on you to prove the fault existed when you bought it. That's rather hard to do - a home button, for example, could be damaged by normal wear and tear or accidental damage. Firmware is also tough - if the fault existed at purchase, why did it take so long to cause an issue?

Also, as you've already had two-years' use from the device, Apple can take that into account, and deduct such use from a refund or replacement. Plus, there's the argument about what's a valid life-span for a device. Should phones last longer than two years (I'd say yes, as I'd imagine you would, but most contracts are only two years.)

Basically, clkenton has nailed it: it's confusing. If anyone has had any luck using these laws with a tech firm, would love to know about it.

Nicole Kobie,
News Editor

By Nicole_Kobie on 14 Nov 2012

@clkenton

I had this EXACT same issue and also complained to both Apple and my network because of this EU warranty while in contract with their main arguments being that it's a 'guideline' more so than an actual law.

Honestly I doubt you will get anything unless you possibly go to a small claims court.

Third party repairs though typically cost £50-60 from the quotes I got.

The only time I ever got anything from this law it was a Tesco TV where I got a partial refund as a 'goodwill gesture'.

Honestly, from my experience, this law is a joke outside of Italy.

By tech3475 on 14 Nov 2012

Confusing indeed....

Apple's behaviour is probably 'technically' illegal in the EU, but I'm sure it depends on each jurisdiction to enforce the 'law'.

Britain, as any Daily Snail reader will tell you is an independent nation and we should not kowtow to the diktats of Europe.

Given that the Snail now directs most Government policies, I can't see UK doing anything so "European" as protecting consumers any time soon.

So gouge on Apple, gouge on. Your fans will love you no matter what you do.....

By wittgenfrog on 14 Nov 2012

I have had to pay twice for Out of warranty repairs

....On the same iPod

I made the point about warranty lasting 2 years and reasonable expectations of durability as per the Sale of Goods act

They said that they honour apple warranty terms not SOGA.. Even the store manager would not budge

Apple seem to think that they are above the law - as witnessed by the recent Samsung apology fiasco

This is why they are not getting my future custom... As I strive to become "Apple free"

By deaglecat on 14 Nov 2012

To expand

They replaced the first iPod..which I had to pay for. Then the replacement also failed - which I had to pay again for.

Same problem on both - faulty headphone jack. ... Which is a common fault on the iPod 2g

Of course if I had bought apple care then they would have dealt with the problem for free - but you shouldn't really have to (according to the law)

Someone mentioned "gouging" .. An ugly word but seems apt !

By deaglecat on 14 Nov 2012

Seems to vary by company

My Sennheiser headphones broke 21 months after I bought them. They were replaced with a brand new set two days after I posted the faulty set to them. So some companies seem to be putting the customer first.

By piphil on 14 Nov 2012

Speak to the Lawyers & EU

Perhaps PC Pro can take it amongst themselves to speak to some independent law firms or indeed approach the EU for some clarification. Why not use some of the real world examples here as test cases for the law firms & EU to comment on.
I'm sure we'd all be interest to know the outcome of such an approach.

By clkenton on 14 Nov 2012

Worse than that

As Nicole_Kobie said, it's confusing. But it goes further than that. Here in the Netherlands, consumer watchdogs see the same problem (without the backing of a gutsy government like Italy). But even WITHIN the supposed 1 year warranty period, iPhones are rejected for repairs by the bucket loads on the "fluid damage" claim, even though a TV programme tested many of these rejected phones, where the fluid indicators were POSITIVELY NOT discolored. Now, that's how you earn money!

By Kimputer on 15 Nov 2012

iPad 1 / IOS 6

Some iPad 1's were 1.5 years old when IOS 6 came out. Some Apps are now only for IOS 6 rendering the iPad 1 more and more of a paperweight. Where does this sit with EU law?

By Richard_M on 15 Nov 2012

Nicole_Kobie

If you also read ComputerActive then you would read of the efforts they go to resolve customer's problems. No one has complained about MacIntosh, but they would say like you, to get an independent report on the problem but notify them first before doing so. If the independent report is in your favour you can take them to the Small Claims Court and get your costs and a proportion (less time used) of your money back.

Also if you did not buy direct but through a reseller then you need to dialogue with the reseller since that is with whom you have the sales contract.

By Robert905 on 15 Nov 2012

Nicole_Kobie

If you also read ComputerActive then you would read of the efforts they go to resolve customer's problems. No one has complained about MacIntosh, but they would say like you, to get an independent report on the problem but notify them first before doing so. If the independent report is in your favour you can take them to the Small Claims Court and get your costs and a proportion (less time used) of your money back.

Also if you did not buy direct but through a reseller then you need to dialogue with the reseller since that is with whom you have the sales contract.

By Robert905 on 15 Nov 2012

"you need to dialogue"

You need to dictionary.

By dubiou on 16 Nov 2012

Know your law

The biggest problems are consumers not knowing their rights and companies blatantly trading on that knowledge, and the fact that many claims 'don't seem worth it'

In the UK you are covered for a minumum of 12 months by the Sales of Goods Act. And for longer if you know what you are talking about.

It would appear, though I am not familiar with it, that EU law covers you for a minimum of 2 years, and probably longer. That would cover sales in the UK.

Your contract is with the SELLER, not the manufacturer. You have to be polite, tell them that you know your rights, and be persistent.

Make sure you only speak to one person, and don't get off loaded elsewhere unless it is higher up the food chain.

Try and get some advice or read up as to whether your particular fault is covered. We all like to think that something is not our fault, and that it must be someone elses. But you have to be realistic about things.

Be prepared to go to small claims court if necessary.

However, I would say that I wish that the media would do more to help consumers. It is disgraceful that for something that is your right embodied in law, some companies try to make you feel like a whinger and criminal whilst avoiding their liabilities,

By reetspetit on 16 Nov 2012

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