EU again points finger at Apple over warranty rights

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
The European Union's Justice Commissioner singled out Apple on Tuesday as an example of poor enforcement of consumer rules, saying that E.U. nations need to more forcefully take the iPhone maker to task regarding its responsibilities with regard to warranties.

warranty
Belgian Online Apple Store's AppleCare webpage with footnote link to EU warranty rights (in red).


Speaking on Tuesday, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called current EU enforcement "very diversified and inconsistent at a national level." Dow Jones Business News quoted Reding as saying that the current consumer protection enforcement environment is "simply not good enough," with Apple allegedly failing to properly inform consumers about their warranty rights "in at least 21 EU Member States."

Under EU law, consumers are entitled to a two-year warranty, but Apple prominently advertises that its products come with a one-year manufacturer warranty. Reding has previously charged that Apple filed to properly inform EU consumers of their automatic and free-of-cost entitlement to a minimum two-year guarantee.

Addressing the issue most recently, Reding said that lawsuits have been filed against Apple by consumer associations in Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Germany. The Italian Antitrust Authority late last year fined Apple ?900,000 over its product warranty policies.

According to Reding, the case is indicative of a need for the European Commission to occasionally take a more prominent role in monitoring and coordinating consumer protection laws. Reding suggested that the Commission could draw attention to recurring problems across the EU, possibly by publicizing tools such as online price comparisons and consumer reviews.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member
    Can we get a clarification as to what each side means by "warranty"? I've heard from other posters who actually live in the EU that Apple's warranty + Apple Care is much better than the auto EU warranty.
  • Reply 2 of 49
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    …the current consumer protection enforcement environment is "simply not good enough," with Apple allegedly failing to properly inform consumers about their warranty rights "in at least 21 EU Member States."


     


    "So this EU you have here. Does everyone have to have a warranty?"

    "Mostly."

    "Uh huh. And do they all have to tell consumers about the existence thereof?"

    "Mostly."

    "Okay. And, uh, do you imagine there's anyone unaware of the fact that they have a warranty when they purchase a product? Let's go back even before the formation of the EU for that one."

    "No, I don't figure that anyone doesn't know they have a warranty when they purchase a product."


    "All right. Then shut up. Obviously we have a warranty. We're not wasting our time or our customers' whining about it to them."

  • Reply 3 of 49
    Don't know if this judge's claim is true or not, but if it is, Apple simply needs to get on with it.

    The law is the law where you do business. If you don't like it, don't do business there. Or, build it into your pricing. Or something. But stop playing games and attracting negative attention. (I know, I know, others might be doing it too; but I could care less).
  • Reply 4 of 49
    plagenplagen Posts: 151member


    ..."According to Reding, the case is indicative of a need for the European Commission to occasionally take a more prominent role in monitoring and coordinating consumer protection laws...'


     


    The case is indicative of the EU to pay for Cyprus bailout. And Greece... And Italy... And ....

  • Reply 5 of 49
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Don't know if this judge's claim is true or not, but if it is, Apple simply needs to get on with it.

    The law is the law where you do business. If you don't like it, don't do business there. Or, build it into your pricing. Or something. But stop playing games and attracting negative attention. (I know, I know, others might be doing it too; but I could care less).

    While what you say is true and Apple has no excuse for not following the law, the above statements appear to be politically motivated:
    "According to Reding, the case is indicative of a need for the European Commission to occasionally take a more prominent role in monitoring and coordinating consumer protection laws. "
    Sounds like a power grab to me.

    Further, he states that enforcement is inconsistent and suggests that interpretation of the laws isn't clear or consistent. In previous cases, Apple argued that they felt that they were following the law. After losing a lawsuit, they implemented changes that they thought fully complied with the law. Then they were sued again.

    It really sounds like at least part of the problem is lack of clarity in exactly what the law requires. I really don't see Apple (or anyone else, for that matter) intentionally violating warranty laws if it's clear what they have to do. At least some of the blame falls upon the member states for failure to make it clear exactly what is required - and then to consistently enforce the laws.
  • Reply 6 of 49
    http://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/

    The 2 years EU Waranty is for defects already present at delivery and is a last seller waranty.
    In most countries the burden of proof that the defect was already there at delivery is on the customer after 6 months. It is often called hidden defects waranty.

    Apple limited waranty is for defects arising after delivery and is a manufaturer waranty. This is what is expanded by applecare.
    The 2 waranties in fact dont intersect and can exist independantly as the EU law is written.

    Problem is 2-fold:

    - Some countries have failed to properly define the difference when transcribing the EU law in national law and/or expanded on it. The former is the case of Italia, and it could be argued that Germany is in the latter case.

    - Apple try to sell it applecare protection plan too, and most of the italian case was about the failure to properly inform about the 2 years rule for hidden defect working even if you dont take applecare. It seems also a bit flimsy and in fact has gone nowhere in various EU Countries but in Italy.

  • Reply 7 of 49


    If the crap wouldn't break or need an update for a bug with every iOs update... wouldn't need a warranty. 

  • Reply 8 of 49
    If the crap wouldn't break or need an update for a bug with every iOs update... wouldn't need a warranty. 

    What an absurd post, at so many different levels. For starters, which products did that to you, when, with which update? How do you explain Apple having the highest quality and customer satisfaction ratings in the industry? Consistently?

    Or did you just wake up this morning and decide, "I'll go on an anti-Apple rant"?
  • Reply 9 of 49
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,671member
    pendergast wrote: »
    Can we get a clarification as to what each side means by "warranty"? I've heard from other posters who actually live in the EU that Apple's warranty + Apple Care is much better than the auto EU warranty.

    This has been discussed in great length when Italy got spanked the 1st time, so I won't repost all that. You are absolutely right; Apple Care goes way further than the 2 year warrant. In fact, it's not really a 2 year warrant; some stuff gets 'degraded over time' within those two years, meaning not everything that falls under warranty in month #2 is still covered in month #20.
  • Reply 10 of 49

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lukefrench View Post



    http://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/



    The 2 years EU Waranty is for defects already present at delivery and is a last seller waranty.

    In most countries the burden of proof that the defect was already there at delivery is on the customer after 6 months. It is often called hidden defects warranty.

     


     


    This is exactly the problem.  Only a couple EU countries require a full 2-year manufacturers warranty.  I know the Czech Republic and Hungary require this.  


     


    In all the other countries this EU wide warranty law is in effect but it is unclear and toothless.  Basically it doesn't really offer consumers real protection.  So, Apple is trying to help consumers by offering them a real warranty for the second year if people want to purchase it.  I've been up to the Apple Store in Dresden, Germany (the easternmost European Apple store so far) and talked to Genius Bar employees while waiting for replacement iPhone's to do restores.  They said customers come in all the time wanting service on products in the second year and the employees have to explain that this law only covers defects present at the time of purchase which is nearly impossible to prove and in reality rarely the case.

  • Reply 11 of 49
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,161member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post


     


    This is exactly the problem.  Only a couple EU countries require a full 2-year manufacturers warranty.  I know the Czech Republic and Hungary require this.  


     


    In all the other countries this EU wide warranty law is in effect but it is unclear and toothless.  Basically it doesn't really offer consumers real protection.  So, Apple is trying to help consumers by offering them a real warranty for the second year if people want to purchase it.  I've been up to the Apple Store in Dresden, Germany (the easternmost European Apple store so far) and talked to Genius Bar employees while waiting for replacement iPhone's to do restores.  They said customers come in all the time wanting service on products in the second year and the employees have to explain that this law only covers defects present at the time of purchase which is nearly impossible to prove and in reality rarely the case.



    Apple could still offer Applecare as added protection in the second year as long as they explain it properly. Implying or outright stating here's no warranty coverage at all in the second year without purchasing a "maintenance agreement" is where the problem is, correct?

  • Reply 12 of 49
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,321member
    Don't know if this judge's claim is true or not, but if it is, Apple simply needs to get on with it.

    The law is the law where you do business. If you don't like it, don't do business there. Or, build it into your pricing. Or something. But stop playing games and attracting negative attention. (I know, I know, others might be doing it too; but I could care less).

    How much less could you care?
  • Reply 13 of 49

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post



    While what you say is true and Apple has no excuse for not following the law, the above statements appear to be politically motivated:

    "According to Reding, the case is indicative of a need for the European Commission to occasionally take a more prominent role in monitoring and coordinating consumer protection laws. "

    Sounds like a power grab to me.


    I don't disagree that this is politically motivated, in the sense that a judge might want politicians to be clearer about what they really intend. However, I don't see it as a power grab, but rather, as someone seeking clarity.


     


    In any event, it does not hurt for Apple to up the ante in the industry, as they have done with supplier responsibility and environmental initiatives. Raising rivals' costs by forcing them to race to the top is what Apple should do across-the-board.

  • Reply 14 of 49

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by saarek View Post




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post



    Don't know if this judge's claim is true or not, but if it is, Apple simply needs to get on with it.



    The law is the law where you do business. If you don't like it, don't do business there. Or, build it into your pricing. Or something. But stop playing games and attracting negative attention. (I know, I know, others might be doing it too; but I could care less).




    How much less could you care?


    If you're bringing up the issue of "couldn't care less" versus its sarcastic inversion "could care less", I could care less.

  • Reply 15 of 49
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    I don't disagree that this is politically motivated, in the sense that a judge might want politicians to be clearer about what they really intend. However, I don't see it as a power grab, but rather, as someone seeking clarity.

    I don't think there's any way to read it except calling it a power grab:
    ""According to Reding, the case is indicative of a need for the European Commission to occasionally take a more prominent role in monitoring and coordinating consumer protection laws. ""

    A European Commissioner is stating that the European Commission should have a larger role. Essentially, "Our role doesn't have enough control over the daily life of European Citizens, so give us more power".
  • Reply 16 of 49
    taniwhataniwha Posts: 347member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post



    Don't know if this judge's claim is true or not, but if it is, Apple simply needs to get on with it.



    The law is the law where you do business. If you don't like it, don't do business there. Or, build it into your pricing. Or something. But stop playing games and attracting negative attention. (I know, I know, others might be doing it too; but I could care less).




    While what you say is true and Apple has no excuse for not following the law, the above statements appear to be politically motivated:

    "According to Reding, the case is indicative of a need for the European Commission to occasionally take a more prominent role in monitoring and coordinating consumer protection laws. "

    Sounds like a power grab to me.



    Further, he states that enforcement is inconsistent and suggests that interpretation of the laws isn't clear or consistent. In previous cases, Apple argued that they felt that they were following the law. After losing a lawsuit, they implemented changes that they thought fully complied with the law. Then they were sued again.



    It really sounds like at least part of the problem is lack of clarity in exactly what the law requires. I really don't see Apple (or anyone else, for that matter) intentionally violating warranty laws if it's clear what they have to do. At least some of the blame falls upon the member states for failure to make it clear exactly what is required - and then to consistently enforce the laws.


    Actually JR, your he is a she, not that it makes any difference these days :-).  However I would dispute that it is the job of the EU or the Commisioner, or the member states to do anything more than publishing the regulations in the official journal. I haven't bothered to check whether in this case there is an EU Directive or an EU regulation that requires 2 year Warranties. The difference is significant because if it's a directive then the member states are required to implement the contents of the directive into national law ... which takes time in most cases, depending on the political agenda, and leads to some variations in the national laws.


     


    If it''s an EU regulation, then it takes precedence over national law (in general) is the same in all member states. This is usually reserved for important things like the size of eggs and the radius of curvature of bananas ;-).


     


    The point being, if there are variations in enforcement, then this is a problem the member states have to deal with. But in any case, if you do business in a country you have to comply with the law of the country. Apple isn't good at that. Like many american companies, they seem to assume US law and US cultural expectations until they get ass-kicked for doing so.

  • Reply 17 of 49

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Apple could still offer Applecare as added protection in the second year as long as they explain it properly. Implying or outright stating here's no warranty coverage at all in the second year without purchasing a "maintenance agreement" is where the problem is, correct?



     


    I have never seen a documented accusation that Apple every implied or stated there's no warranty coverage at all in the second year without purchasing AppleCare.  In Italy it was an issue of not specifically stating that there is very limited coverage.  That is totally different than implying anything.


     


    The main problem is that the EU law is so vague and convoluted that to provide customers with the actual language of the law would make them more confused than if you told them nothing.  It also open up the customer service and store employees to an unreasonable burden of clearly explaining a horribly written law that it shouldn't be Apple's job to explain.

  • Reply 18 of 49
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,161member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post


     


    I have never seen a documented accusation that Apple every implied or stated there's no warranty coverage at all in the second year without purchasing AppleCare.



    Of course they do. What's their stated warranty in the device documentation? If it says one year then they're telling buyers there's no warranty in year two. That's not hard to see is it?


     


    IMO they should take the high road and make the warranty two years and be done with it.

  • Reply 19 of 49
    msimpsonmsimpson Posts: 452member
    If the warranty regulations are different in each EU country, than that is problem for not only Apple but every other business. I suspect the reason Apple gets singled out is because they are making lots of money and they are a big visible target. Maybe Apple does need to do more in certain countries, but I don't think they are maliciously trying rip consumers off.

    Apple understands that keeping a current customer happy is as important as getting new customers. When I see stories about people complaining about Apple's services or business methods I always laugh because I have gotten nothing but excellent customer service from Apple and I have received horrible service from a lot companies that people just seem to accept as normal practice. Apple gets held to a higher standard. How is Samsung's service in the EU?

    Whatever Apple does with the EU, they need to repatriate any profits made in the EU back to the USA as soon as possible, even if it means paying more US taxes on the profits, because based on the mess in Cyprus and what has happened in Greece and Spain, the socialist welfare states of Europe are going after anyone with money or savings.

    Apple is target from the leeches because they are successful.
  • Reply 20 of 49
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GregInPrague View Post


     


    This is exactly the problem.  Only a couple EU countries require a full 2-year manufacturers warranty.  I know the Czech Republic and Hungary require this.  


     


    In all the other countries this EU wide warranty law is in effect but it is unclear and toothless.  Basically it doesn't really offer consumers real protection.  So, Apple is trying to help consumers by offering them a real warranty for the second year if people want to purchase it.  I've been up to the Apple Store in Dresden, Germany (the easternmost European Apple store so far) and talked to Genius Bar employees while waiting for replacement iPhone's to do restores.  They said customers come in all the time wanting service on products in the second year and the employees have to explain that this law only covers defects present at the time of purchase which is nearly impossible to prove and in reality rarely the case.





    And you have beautifully illustrated why Apple is getting a rap over the knuckles.  Those so called 'geniuses' are making misleading statements.  The relevant EU directive does not state anything about the defects having to be present at the time of purchase.  The directive in question state:


     


     


    Quote:


    1. The seller must deliver goods to the consumer which are in conformity with the contract of sale.


    2. Consumer goods are presumed to be in conformity with the contract if they:


    (a) comply with the description given by the seller and possess the qualities of the goods which the seller has held out to the consumer as a sample or model;


    (b) are fit for any particular purpose for which the consumer requires them and which he made known to the seller at the time of conclusion of the contract and which the seller has accepted;


    (c) are fit for the purposes for which goods of the same type are normally used;


    (d) show the quality and performance which are normal in goods of the same type and which the consumer can reasonably expect, given the nature of the goods and taking into account any public statements on the specific characteristics of the goods made about them by the seller, the producer or his representative, particularly in advertising or on labelling.




    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31999L0044:EN:HTML


     


    So, given the premium price of most Apple products and their often touted quality, a consumer could reasonably expect them to function for at least two years.  If an Apple genius tried to tell me I shouldn't expect my Macbook Retina Pro to last two years, he would soon be in urgent need a proctologist.


     


    Here in Ireland, I have read anecdotal reports of Apple employees telling customers straight out that they are not covered by the EU mandated statutory 2 year period - which is an outright lie.


     


    This is why Apple is at fault.  They are clearly not educating their employees about this legislation and the rights their customers are entitled to under it.

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