All Apple websites could be blocked in Belgium over AppleCare controversy

Image: belgium-iphone.lesoir.be

Belgian Apple Store concept image: belgium-iphone.lesoir.be

A Belgian judge is reportedly considering ordering local ISPs to block access to all Apple websites in the country in response to a long-running dispute over the company’s promotion of AppleCare warranties, according to local newspapers cited by Tech.eu.

A case brought by the consumer protection group FPS Economy argued that Apple misleads consumers by claiming a standard warranty of one year, and selling an optional AppleCare extension, when EU law means that manufacturers are legally obliged to offer a minimum warranty of two years as standard …  Read more

Apple takes AppleCare off the shelves in Italy following antitrust investigation

Last we heard, Apple was being threatened with closure of its Italian operations if it did not make necessary changes to its warranty policies following an investigation by the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato. The authorities had previously fined Apple $1.2 million, claiming the company failed to inform consumers about a two-year warranty mandatory by EU law. Now it appears Apple has officially taken its AppleCare Protection Plan products off the shelves in Italy with only online versions of the product still available to Italian customers.

setteB.IT shared the image above showing what is apparently an email from Apple Distribution International in Ireland to Apple resellers in Italy. Apple informed resellers that it would stop selling all AppleCare Protection Plans in Italian Apple Stores as well as through authorized resellers. From the email, it also appeared Apple will no longer offer AppleCare-related services over the phone in the country.

setteB.IT also noted Apple has updated the terms for AppleCare on its Italian website. Rather than a “1 year warranty”, the website now reads “AppleCare plans benefits are added to the 2 year warranty of the seller, required by Italian regulators to protect the consumers.”

A full translation of the email is below:

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Apple threatened with closure of Italian operations over AppleCare antitrust investigation

We have kept you updated on Apple’s warranty situation in Italy with the company forced to pay a $1.2 million fine imposed by Italian antitrust authorities after losing an appeal to the fine in March. Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato claimed Apple mislead consumers by selling its one-year AppleCare warranties without properly informing its customers of a two-year warranty mandatory by European Union law. Today, Reuters reported Apple is facing further fines and “temporary closure of its operations in Italy” if it doe not make changes to its warranty policies:

Apple Inc was threatened with the temporary closure of its operations in Italy and with further fines of up to 300,000 euros ($377,500) if it does not offer customers a free two-year warranty as demanded by Italian law… The AGCM said in its monthly bulletin that Apple was continuing to adopt unfair commercial practices in Italy and noted this could eventually lead to the closure of its Italian operations for up to 30 days.

In March, reports claimed that authorities from up to 10 other countries in the EU were considering requesting Apple make similar changes to AppleCare.

Update: Apple commented on the matter:

“We have introduced a number of measures to address the Italian competition authority concerns and we disagree with their latest complaint.”

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