Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato Stories January 15, 2013

Belgian consumer group files complaint against Apple over AppleCare warranty practices

Apple agreed to comply with Italian regulators’ requests last year to alter AppleCare warranties in the country after being fined $1.2 million (and an additional $264,000) for “misleading consumers” regarding two-year warranties mandatory by European Union law. We expected to hear much more about AppleCare in other EU countries that also employ the mandatory, free, two-year warranty, and now Belgian consumer watchdog Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats has filed a complaint to escalate its case (via TechCrunch):

For many years warranty issues are at the top of the charts of complaints dealt with Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats. One of the recurring problems are the complaints about Apple. Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats found major problems fixed on the information provided by Apple and its authorized distributors regarding the legal guarantee, the commercial one year warranty, and the warranty extension through the “AppleCare Protection Plan” of 2 or 3 years.

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 of them but filed a complaint today with local courts because “Apple remained deaf to the demands.”

During negotiations with Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, Apple ultimately changed its warranty policies on its website, terms and conditions, and even removed AppleCare from brick-and-mortar store shelves.

Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato Stories December 21, 2012

After making changes to AppleCare in Italy, antitrust authorities fine Apple another $264K

Following Italian authorities forcing Apple to make changes to its AppleCare Protection Plan warranty policies, and Apple taking the product off retail store shelves, Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato has once again fined Apple. The antirust authority originally fined Apple $1.2 million for misleading consumers regarding a two-year warranty mandatory by EU law, and today the AGCM said it will fine Apple another $264,000 (€200,000) for failing to make changes to its warranties between March 28 to the Nov. 10 (via TNW):

In light of the above considerations, it was determined that Apple’s behavior during the period of 28th March 2012 – 10th November 2012 constitutes non-compliance with resolution no. 23155 of 21st December 2011, as modified by resolution no. 23193 of 11th January 2012.

The fines will be split between Apple Sales International, Apple Italia S.r.l, and Apple Retail Italia S.r.l.

Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato Stories July 2, 2012

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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Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato Stories March 23, 2012

As we reported earlier this month, Apple was set to appeal a $1.2 million fine imposed by Italian anti-trust authorities Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato. The authorities argued Apple is misleading consumers by selling its one-year AppleCare warranties without informing customers of a two-year warranty mandatory by European Union law. Apple officially lost the appeal in court this week, which forced the company to pay the €900,00 fine and alter its AppleCare policies to properly inform consumers going forward. Apple can still appeal the decision, but consumer groups from 10 other countries are also requesting Apple change its policies—indicating this could soon be EU-wide. (via Repubblica.it)

Following the Path incident, a letter sent from lawmakers to Apple in February requested information on how the company collects personal data. The two congressional representatives behind the letter, Henry A. Waxman and G. K. Butterfield, sent letters to 34 app developers requesting similar information. One of the letters was sent to Tim Cook and Apple about the “Find My Friends” app. The letters are requesting that developers answer questions about their privacy policies and how they handle user data. In response to Path, Apple already confirmed, “Any app wishing to access contact data will require explicit user approval in a future software release.”

Earlier this month, we reported that U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner ruled in favor of Apple’s request to view documents related to the development of Android and the Google/Motorola acquisition. Apple claimed, “The Android/Motorola acquisition discovery is highly relevant to Apple’s claims and defenses.” According to Bloomberg, Apple told the courts last week that Motorola has yet to fulfill the original request, but Judge Posner denied Apple’s request this week and said, “Motorola’s objections are persuasive.” Two patent infringement-related trials between Apple and Motorola are set for June, and Posner warns Apple will have to “narrow its request to a manageable and particularized set of documents” for any future production of data requests. expand full story

Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato Stories March 19, 2012

We reported several times about Italian anti-trust authorities fining Apple $1.2 million for “misleading consumers” in relation to AppleCare warranties. The decision made by the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato stated Apple’s 1-year AppleCare warranties were failing to inform consumers of a mandatory warranty of two years imposed by European Union law. Today we heard confirmation from Bloomberg that not just Italy, but consumer groups from 11 countries, requested that Apple make changes to its AppleCare policies and immediately halt its current “practices on the guarantees.”

Apple products say they come with a one-year warranty when European Union law requires manufacturers cover goods for two years, consumer groups in 11 countries, including Italy and Germany, said in an e-mailed statement today. The groups said they sent letters to national regulators seeking an immediate halt to Apple’s practices on the guarantees

The letter sent by consumer groups comes two days before Apple is set to appeal the $1.2 million fine imposed by Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato on March 21. Apple already published the initial anti-trust decision on its website, but the group is asking Apple to also alter its warranty policies and publish a notice to consumers about the changes it made on Apple.com. expand full story

Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato Stories December 30, 2011

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.

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