Apple flips the switch on paid chat support, introduces Here to Help program for AppleCare employees

Apple-Here-To-Help

Following our report late last month that Apple was preparing to start charging for out-of-warranty online chat support, we’ve been informed that today Apple support has finally flipped the switch on the new feature and started charging customers. While originally planned for earlier this month, Apple has been having difficulties with a new payment system it developed specifically for the online chat feature. Apple is also introducing a new training program for AppleCare employees called “Here to Help” that it hopes will improve the overall AppleCare support experience.  Read more

Watchdog group forces Apple to change Australian refund policy, review two years of possible violations

Apple-Store-vegas-winter-display-01

 

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a business competition watchdog organization, has forced Apple to make modifications to its refund policy in order to comply with consumer protection legislation, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. According to the group, Apple misled customers with regard to what types of refund or repair they were entitled to.

According to the claims, the U.S.-based company did not provide customers with sufficient compensation for faulty devices to comply with Australian law. Now Apple has been forced to re-evaluate its practices and will have to re-examine countless potential violations that took place over the past two years. Failure to comply with the new policy could result in a massive class-action lawsuit against Apple.

Read more

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.”

Read more

Apple to appeal $1.2M fine imposed by Italian regulators over AppleCare warranties

Apple plans to appeal a decision by Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato to impose $1.2 million USD fine for not providing consumers with a two-year warranty mandatory under European Union law and the Italian Consumer Code. An Apple PR representative apparently confirmed the decision to appeal the fines to The Register.

We reported earlier this week that Italian antitrust authorities were fining Apple Inc., Apple Sales International, and Apple Retail Italy $1.2 million USD related to “bad commercial practices that harmed consumers.” The Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato claimed Apple has not implemented a two-year product guarantee available to all consumers through EU law. Instead, Apple continues to push their own AppleCare warranties to consumers without indication of the consumer’s rights to the free two-year guarantee.

The Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato asked Apple “cease practice” of their current warranty policies, and “notify the Authority” of a new course of action. They also want Apple to publish clarification of the new policy on Apple.com to notify consumers. It is unclear if other authorities throughout the EU will take similar action.

Apple is also accused by the European Antitrust Commission of engaging in “illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition in the EU or in the EEA” related to their iBooks business.

Read more