Italy fines Apple 10M euro over water resistance marketing

Posted:
in iPhone
Apple has been hit by a fine from the Italian Antitrust Authority for 10 million euro ($12M) over claims it misled consumers in marketing the water-resistance of its iPhones.




Levied on Monday, the fine from the regulator was laid against Apple Distribution International and Apple Italia SRL, over two commercial practices in how it marketed iPhones, ranging from the iPhone 8 until the iPhone 11 generation. The issues largely relate to Apple's advertising for water resistance features of its devices.

In its advertising, Apple says its iPhones can withstand water for depths ranging from 1 meter to 4 meters, and for up to 30 minutes. On the first count, Apple was accused of not properly clarifying to consumers that the depths and timing work under specific conditions, such as lab-controlled testing with static and pure water.

There is also an issue with the disclaimer Apple offers, in that "the guarantee" doesn't cover liquid damage, something that goes against the prominent advertising boasts over water resistance. It also apparently isn't clear if the guarantee mentioned by Apple refers to a conventional or legal guarantee, while Apple was also accused of failing to properly contextualize the conditions and limitations of water resistance claims.

The Antitrust Authority also thought it was inappropriate for Apple to refuse offering warranty assistance for liquid damage following sales, which was deemed to be hindering consumer rights enshrined by law and the country's Consumer Code.

Sanctions against both Apple Distribution International and Apple Italia SRL include both the fine and an order to publish a link on its website covering Italy linking to a document about the regulatory findings.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    Good.  Now go after the rest of the tech industry giants for the same BS (looking at you Samsung... and L'il Wayne).  If companies are going to actively market their product's resistance to liquid, then cover liquid damage under warranty.  This is important on phones, but even more critical on smartwatches that are even more prominently advertised for their wet work
    edited November 2020 elijahgspice-boycrowleylam92103olsjony0
  • Reply 2 of 17
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    Funny how we watch YouTube videos of iPhones submerged for hours with no damage. Then we see reports on various blogs, and the Apple Discussion Forums, from users who dropped their iPhone in a water puddle and it died instantly. The marketing and “testing” don’t seem to align themselves with the real world. If Apple’s claims are valid then it would seem the devices affected should be covered by the warranty. 
    spice-boyBeatsjony0
  • Reply 3 of 17
    lkrupp said:
    Funny how we watch YouTube videos of iPhones submerged for hours with no damage. Then we see reports on various blogs, and the Apple Discussion Forums, from users who dropped their iPhone in a water puddle and it died instantly. The marketing and “testing” don’t seem to align themselves with the real world. If Apple’s claims are valid then it would seem the devices affected should be covered by the warranty. 
    Obviously whatever wording apple uses in the region will need to be rectified to be in the same spirit as "water resistance" versus "water proof".

    But just an anecdote: I have an iPhone X, I still take underwater photos with it (including in crashing waves) and it has lived at the bottom of a busy swimming pool for hours by accident. I don't use a case, and have dropped the phone plenty in its lifetime. 

    If you consider the number of iPhone sold while marketed as "water resistant" then we'd know by now if Apple were lying here.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobraolsjony0
  • Reply 4 of 17
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,966member
    Every water resistance claim I have seen so the iPhone specifically references the IP standards, so I’m not sure how Italy can complain about that. 

    As far as the second claim goes I can see both sides - Apple is marketing their phones as being water resistant to xx meters for yy minutes, but then refuses to honor their warranty if they get wet. WTF? On the other hand, what’s to prevent someone from filing a warranty claim after taking their phone too deep or leaving it under water for a week? 
    dewmemuthuk_vanalingamGG1rinosaurkuduwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 17
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,788member
    lkrupp said:
    Funny how we watch YouTube videos of iPhones submerged for hours with no damage. Then we see reports on various blogs, and the Apple Discussion Forums, from users who dropped their iPhone in a water puddle and it died instantly. The marketing and “testing” don’t seem to align themselves with the real world. If Apple’s claims are valid then it would seem the devices affected should be covered by the warranty. 
    Dropping your phone from a reasonable height into a puddle is likely to compromise the waterproof integrity, and that should not be covered under warranty. However, touting waterproofness in marketing then explicitly excluding all cases of water ingress from warranty claims should not be legal. There's no difference between this and them excluding any other part of the phone they've advertised, the camera for example. "Camera excluded from warranty" would cause uproar.
    Ofer
  • Reply 6 of 17
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,788member

    lkrupp said:
    Funny how we watch YouTube videos of iPhones submerged for hours with no damage. Then we see reports on various blogs, and the Apple Discussion Forums, from users who dropped their iPhone in a water puddle and it died instantly. The marketing and “testing” don’t seem to align themselves with the real world. If Apple’s claims are valid then it would seem the devices affected should be covered by the warranty. 
    Obviously whatever wording apple uses in the region will need to be rectified to be in the same spirit as "water resistance" versus "water proof".

    But just an anecdote: I have an iPhone X, I still take underwater photos with it (including in crashing waves) and it has lived at the bottom of a busy swimming pool for hours by accident. I don't use a case, and have dropped the phone plenty in its lifetime. 

    If you consider the number of iPhone sold while marketed as "water resistant" then we'd know by now if Apple were lying here.
    It's been a long time since I heard of an iPhone damaged by water ingress, I don't think the numbers are high at all, making exclusion from warranty a bit weird. Maybe they don't want people to treat it as water*proof* as you say. Though perhaps in fact Apple does get a lot of phones failing due to this that we somehow don't know about, which is why they exclude it from the warranty. Doesn't make it right though.
  • Reply 7 of 17
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,450member
    When governments which are notoriously slow to pick up on consumer complaints finally get on with it then you know the problem is much larger than Apple will admit to. 
    I expect Apple will and should get in deeper doo doo going forward which is good for consumers and will lead to its monopolistic practices being corrected. 
    Ofer
  • Reply 8 of 17
    lkrupp said:
    Funny how we watch YouTube videos of iPhones submerged for hours with no damage. Then we see reports on various blogs, and the Apple Discussion Forums, from users who dropped their iPhone in a water puddle and it died instantly. The marketing and “testing” don’t seem to align themselves with the real world. If Apple’s claims are valid then it would seem the devices affected should be covered by the warranty. 
    Obviously whatever wording apple uses in the region will need to be rectified to be in the same spirit as "water resistance" versus "water proof".

    But just an anecdote: I have an iPhone X, I still take underwater photos with it (including in crashing waves) and it has lived at the bottom of a busy swimming pool for hours by accident. I don't use a case, and have dropped the phone plenty in its lifetime. 

    If you consider the number of iPhone sold while marketed as "water resistant" then we'd know by now if Apple were lying here.
    Nitpick: water resistance doesn't require quotation marks.  It's a defined term, not a euphemism or colloquialism.  Waterproof is a word as well.  The wording in Italy won't need to be rectified.  Apple uses the proper term (water resistance) worldwide.  Apple's only use of the word waterproof is to state it's products aren't waterproof.  Waterproof in this instance, is a moot point since the Italians aren't taking issue with Apple claiming waterproof products.  They are taking issue with Apple's marketing of the water resistance of their products.  They are saying essentially two things.
    1.  Let customers know how the IP ratings apply to the product.  Example: iPhone 12 is IP68 certified.  That certification is derived from... (testing procedure).  That certification is only valid under testing procedure conditions.  Activities outside of the controlled testing procedures can alter the device's IP rating effectiveness.  Apple technically already does this, but the info has to be hunted down.  It's not accessible in a practical and easy manner.  Linked below.

    2.  Products shouldn't be marketed as water resistant if water intrusion can void the warranty.  Example: Don't advertise by showing people using your products doing activities that can void their warranty.

    Part one can easily be resolved by 3 single sentences somewhere in the packaging:  Your phone is not waterproof.  Liquid damage can void your warranty.  Details can be found at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207043#:~:text=iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini,meters up to 30 minutes) and https://support.apple.com/en-in/guide/watch/apd707b42a5e/watchos

    Part two can easily resolved by not marketing the product in a way that could void the warranty.  Or, don't void warranty for use in activities that are actively promoted by the company.  This applies to the phone and the watch.
    edited November 2020 dewmeh4y3smuthuk_vanalingamGG1fred1beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 9 of 17
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,537member
    lkrupp said:
    Funny how we watch YouTube videos of iPhones submerged for hours with no damage. Then we see reports on various blogs, and the Apple Discussion Forums, from users who dropped their iPhone in a water puddle and it died instantly. The marketing and “testing” don’t seem to align themselves with the real world. If Apple’s claims are valid then it would seem the devices affected should be covered by the warranty. 
    Obviously whatever wording apple uses in the region will need to be rectified to be in the same spirit as "water resistance" versus "water proof".

    But just an anecdote: I have an iPhone X, I still take underwater photos with it (including in crashing waves) and it has lived at the bottom of a busy swimming pool for hours by accident. I don't use a case, and have dropped the phone plenty in its lifetime. 

    If you consider the number of iPhone sold while marketed as "water resistant" then we'd know by now if Apple were lying here.
    Nitpick: water resistance doesn't require quotation marks.  It's a defined term, not a euphemism or colloquialism.  The wording in Italy won't need to be rectified.  Apple uses the proper term (water resistance) worldwide.  Apple's only use of the word waterproof is state it's products aren't waterproof.  Waterproof in this instance, is a moot point since the Italians aren't taking issue with Apple claiming waterproof products.  They are taking issue with Apple's marketing of the water resistance of their products.  They are saying essentially two things.
    1.  Let customers know how the IP ratings apply to the product.  Example: iPhone 12 is IP68 certified.  That certification is derived from... (testing procedure).  That certification is only valid under testing procedure conditions.  Activities outside of the controlled testing procedures can alter the device's IP rating effectiveness.  Apple technically already does this, but the info has to be hunted down.  It's not accessible in a practical and easy manner.  Linked below.

    2.  Products shouldn't be marketed as water resistant if water intrusion can void the warranty.  Example: Don't advertise by showing people using your products doing activities that can void their warranty.

    Part one can easily be resolved by 3 single sentences somewhere in the packaging:  Your phone is not waterproof.  Liquid damage can void your warranty.  Details can be found at https://support.apple.com/en-in/guide/watch/apd707b42a5e/watchos

    Part two can easily resolved by not marketing the product in a way that could void the warranty.  Or, don't void warranty for use in activities that are actively promoted by the company.  This applies to the phone and the watch.
    Nailed it. 
  • Reply 10 of 17
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    Totally ludicrous claims.

    First and foremost, water resistant is not the same as water proof. If that were the case they would have to take the entire watch industry to court. 

    Second, Apple referred to industry standards of water resistance, and these standards clearly specify the circumstances and conditions of testing, etc. it’s the whole point of referring to a standard and of having well defined standards that one does NOT have to restate over and over the specific of the testing and conditions.

    And last but not least, there are other liquids than water, so of course advertising water resistance doesn’t mean excluding liquid damage. You can drop your phone into battery acid, molten lava, corrosive salt solutions, boiling water, crude oil, etc. etc. all of which are liquids, and even if the phone were advertised as water proof and not just water resistant, that would be no reason not to exclude liquid damage from the warranty, as temperatures, acidity, conductivity, corrosiveness etc. vary widely among liquids and can damage the phone irrespective of whether it’s water proof, water resistent, or unprotected.

    Just another bankrupt, corrupt country trying to get on the good side of the voters by attacking the supposedly evil corporate overlords and extracting money from them, with the result of them having to get it back somehow by squeezing their contractors yet another bit more or raising prices.

    People don’t get it: corporations cannot pay anything, they are pass-through entities: it’s always people who end up paying, and that means consumers or workers.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 17
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    Well, that's another couple of euros on the price of iPhones bought in Italy then.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 17
    I always thought advertising “water resistance” was a bad idea. Since there is nothing to back it up in the warranty, why advertise that you have made changes to the device to protect it from water? 

    The IP designation is terrible and should be scrapped and re-done in a way that average consumers can understand that unless your device can get submerged in water that has a current, you should never get it wet. 

    This is one of the best explanations of how the IP ratings work and more importantly how they don’t stack the higher the IP rating. 

    CloudTalkin
  • Reply 13 of 17
    rcfa said:
    Totally ludicrous claims.

    First and foremost, water resistant is not the same as water proof. If that were the case they would have to take the entire watch industry to court. 

    Second, Apple referred to industry standards of water resistance, and these standards clearly specify the circumstances and conditions of testing, etc. it’s the whole point of referring to a standard and of having well defined standards that one does NOT have to restate over and over the specific of the testing and conditions.

    And last but not least, there are other liquids than water, so of course advertising water resistance doesn’t mean excluding liquid damage. You can drop your phone into battery acid, molten lava, corrosive salt solutions, boiling water, crude oil, etc. etc. all of which are liquids, and even if the phone were advertised as water proof and not just water resistant, that would be no reason not to exclude liquid damage from the warranty, as temperatures, acidity, conductivity, corrosiveness etc. vary widely among liquids and can damage the phone irrespective of whether it’s water proof, water resistent, or unprotected.

    Just another bankrupt, corrupt country trying to get on the good side of the voters by attacking the supposedly evil corporate overlords and extracting money from them, with the result of them having to get it back somehow by squeezing their contractors yet another bit more or raising prices.

    People don’t get it: corporations cannot pay anything, they are pass-through entities: it’s always people who end up paying, and that means consumers or workers.
    Ludicrous how? 
    First, no one is claiming water resistant and waterproof are the same, 'cept maybe forum members incorrectly mentioning waterproof as part of their arguments.  The Italian complaint doesn't even mention waterproof... not even once.  It's not even a part of their complaint.

    Second, you're 100% wrong.  IP68 is an industry standard rating.  Yes.  It is, however, not tested at standard circumstances and conditions.  The manufacturer (in this case Apple) decides the conditions and circumstances.  May be hard to believe, but it's true.  The only real expectation is the 8-rated device is more water resistant than an equivalent 7-rated device.  7 and 8 are immersion ratings.  It also means that a 7 or 8 rated device might not pass 5 or 6 rating certification.  5 and 6 are water jet ratings (spray).  

    Lastly, none of the other liquids you mentioned are covered by the IP68 rating.  All of the liquids you mentioned could cause damage that make the device dead-as-all-get-out.  Tripping the liquid indicator would be the least of your worries in those cases.  It's pretty simple.  Don't advertise the device doing things that will void the warranty.


    muthuk_vanalingamelijahg
  • Reply 14 of 17
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    I think it's perfectly reasonable to say that if you're going to use the claim in  your advertising then you need to support the claim in your warranty.
    muthuk_vanalingamelijahg
  • Reply 15 of 17
    Excellent. Now if only every other country would do the same. 
  • Reply 16 of 17
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    Apple under-promises.

    Now go after all the knockoffs who blatantly LIED about water resistance and caused an army of iKnockoff morons to mock Apple even though iPhones have been water resistant since iPhone 6 but Apple refused to over-promise(I'm looking at you Samsung).

    There's a video of someone boiling an iPhone 6 for 45 minutes. Still worked.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 17
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    lam92103 said:
    Excellent. Now if only every other country would do the same. 

    Would be nice if they held the iKnockoff companies like Samsung to the same standards everyone holds Apple to.
    edited November 2020 watto_cobraGG1
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