updated 07:30 pm EDT, Thu March 22, 2012
Fine of $1.2 million upheld
Apple has lost an appeal in Italy over the terminology used in its AppleCare agreements sold in that country, and will face fines totalling $1.2 million for what the Italian Antitrust Authority deemed "bad commercial policies" and not properly informing buyers of differences between Italian warranty law and Apple's preferred policies. Manufacturer warranties in Italy are required to last two years, a fact Apple has ignored in promoting its AppleCare warranties, the agency found.
Apple's policy on most of the hardware products it sells is a one-year warranty, which can be supplemented with a paid warranty extension known as AppleCare (which also imparts some other benefits, such as extended telephone support). The AppleCare plan extends the warranty by another two years, for a total of three years warranty protection.
Italian law requires manufacturers to warranty their products for two years, leaving Apple with the option of either offering AppleCare for only one additional year (which would likely force the company to offer it at a much lower price) or to offer up to four years total coverage under AppleCare, something the company would likely find unprofitable and could open the door to additional liability in most other EU countries.
Apple appealed the original ruling of the Antitrust Authority in December, when the agency said that Apple had been deliberately "unclear" about the extension of the original warranty in Italy when promoting AppleCare. Losing the appeal will likely force the company to change warranty terms in Italy to make it clearer that it will honor the original warranty for two years. It is possible, though unlikely, that Apple may decide not to offer AppleCare in Italy as an extension of the warranty.
AppleCare has occasionally not been available for consumers to purchase in some US states when the company had disagreements with the state's consumer-protection laws. The product was not available in Florida, for example, for several years in the early 2000s due to that state's regulations which offered additional return options in light of the area's large population of seniors, and was not offered to buyers at different times in Wyoming and Washington state for various reasons as well. [via la Republicca]