In a speech Tuesday, the EU’s Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding honed in on the Apple case as an example of weak and diverse enforcement of consumer rules within the EU.
“This case and the responses I received since I sent my letter have highlighted rather clearly just why the Commission cannot sit on the side-lines on enforcement issues,” she said. “The approaches to enforcement in these types of cases turn out to be very diversified and inconsistent at a national level. In at least 21 EU Member States Apple is not informing consumers correctly about the legal warranty rights they have. This is simply not good enough.”
Reding spoke about the need for EU authorities to take “a more prominent role in monitoring and coordinating coherent enforcement of EU consumer rules.” Reding also noted that consumers groups in at least Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, and Portugal have filed lawsuits that are ongoing against Apple over its warranty practices.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that Apple has made changes to its warranty policies in Australia after coming under similar pressures, and the company has now quietly extended its program from 12 months to 24 months.
In March 2012, consumer groups from 10 countries requested Apple make changes to its warranty policies after the case in Italy. The Belgian consumer group was one and later filed a complaint with local courts because “Apple remained deaf to the demands.”
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Apple took its AppleCare protection plans off store shelves in Italy last November following an antitrust investigation that had resulted in a $1.2 million fine and other subsequent penalties. Apple also made changes to the wording on its website about warranties at the request of Italian regulators, the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato.