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Apple Sued By Belgian Consumer Association For Not Applying EU Warranty Laws

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the regulation-is-only-ok-if-it-benefits-us dept.

EU 290

An anonymous reader writes "Following the recent Italian case, Apple is now being sued by the Belgian consumer association 'Test-Achats' (french/dutch website) for not applying the EU consumer protection laws by only giving a one-year warranty on its products. At the same time, Apple is not only refusing to give the mandatory two-year warranty but is also selling the additional year of warranty with its Applecare products. If the consumer association wins its case, Apple could be forced to refund Applecare contracts to its Belgian customers while providing the additional year of warranty for free."

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So wait . . . (5, Insightful)

greenreaper (205818) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410285)

If they lose, basically all they have to do is do what they should have been doing already? No fine or anything? I'm surprised more people aren't trying to get away with it.

Re:So wait . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410337)

They still have to pay for the scum sucking lawyers. That is some level of punishment. Maybe they should be required to pay for the lawyers on the other side as well?

Re:So wait . . . (1)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410677)

"They still have to pay for the scum sucking lawyers. That is some level of punishment." I'm sure they are on retainer, so, no, not much punishment...

Re:So wait . . . (3, Informative)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410409)

Nah. They probably just charge more in the EU to cover the extra year of warranty.

Re:So wait . . . (3, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411079)

Nah. They probably just charge more in the EU to cover the extra year of warranty.

Doesn't work like that. Products are sold based on what the customers are willing to pay, not based on the underlying cost of the product. So unless the extra year of warranty significantly changes what customers are willing to pay, the prices will stay the same.

Re:So wait . . . (4, Informative)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410647)

If they lose, basically all they have is a free loan for the amount of the Applecare contracts that they have to refund? No fine or anything? I'm surprised more people aren't trying to get away with it.

Modified that a bit there. Indeed, the worst case scenario is that you get to take people's money and effectively get an interest-free loan if you have to give it back. Assuming that a lot of people don't apply for the refund, there's that too. Best case scenario is you get away with it if you don't get sued.

So yeah, where's the deterrent?

Re:So wait . . . (1)

greenreaper (205818) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410859)

That was my thought too, but then I figured the legal fees might effectively count as interest.

Re:So wait . . . (2)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410847)

This is why fines don't work. They need to be severe enough to factor in the profit motive.

Let's say a tech company made a laptop without a certain safety device in it and violated EU regs as a result. They are fined 110% of the profits they made from that product while it was violating regulations (so it isn't even economical to say "at least it evened out at cost" - it's a measurable loss). Get fines like that in corporate law and this shit will stop post haste.

tl;dr fines don't actually lose a company enough money to be considered anything other than a cost of doing business.

Re:So wait . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410855)

I think that it is going to be relatively expensive for them; if a court rules that they are infringing the EU law on the matter the same ruling applies to all 27 countries, not just Belgium. Moreover, although there are no punitive damages to be expected there is still the common rule of not being able to benefit from tort/crime which will likely mean that Apple will have to pay first the compensation for consumers and then a fine of some sort from the violation of the rules.

Re:So wait . . . (-1, Offtopic)

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Re:So wait . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411113)

The 2 year warranty is mandated by EU law, so they'll lose every time a customer calls them out on it. I'm pretty sure they know this. The problem here is that they're misleading their customers into thinking they have fewer rights than they actually have in order to sell their own insurance packages

Test-Achats (3, Insightful)

Avarist (2453728) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410291)

As a Belgian I've seen Test-Achats do many very good things in the name of the consumers to protect them over time. It's no surprise either that not everything that gets accepted in the US gets through in Europe. My question tho would be if the US has anything similar that actively defends the consumers? Non-governmental that is.

Re:Test-Achats (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410351)

My question tho would be if the US has anything similar that actively defends the consumers? Non-governmental that is.

Unfurtunately there are too many f*ckwits who believe everything they are told by the 1%-ers ["giving good warranties would be bad for big companies which means it would be bad for Americans"] and only vote on the basis of whether their candidate supports killing live people (AKA "execution") or unborn entities (AKA "abortion") or how the candidate thinks that life was created (or evolved).

Re:Test-Achats (3, Informative)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410477)

I think we need something here in australia too. I've had a long running dispute with apple for "cancelling" my one year warranty over what it claims is water damage (but was confirmed by a third party repairer to not be water damage at all) , when australian law is really specific that you cant actually cancel warranty unless damage is *caused* by user misuse. The govt body in charge of such things here has acknowledged that I'm in the right after investigating but pretty much said they'd probably need a bunch more cases to be worth taking them to court over it.

Also they by law have to sell end users spare-parts once the warranty has ended, but they dont, and thats a big no-no.

Re:Test-Achats (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410579)

Try making at the Small Claim tribunal or court of your state.

More information here:
http://www.abio.org.au/abioweb/ABIOWebSite.nsf/0/77d81e601100bb8eca256d56004279d9?OpenDocument

Re:Test-Achats (4, Informative)

Ambvai (1106941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411025)

I remember this consumer group did this thing for the first iPhone after a rash of complaints where Apple rejected warranty claims, citing water damage. In an attempt to prove that rejecting claims based on faulty sensors, they bought a new iPhone from an Apple store on a day with near 100% humidity. When they cracked it open, the moisture-sensitive tabs were already triggered.

I can't find the exact same story, but here's something that covered pretty much the same thing. http://consumerist.com/2010/08/can-high-humidity-void-your-iphones-warranty.html [consumerist.com]

Re:Test-Achats (2)

dacarr (562277) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410661)

There are a few agencies.

Better Business Bureau has a small amount of clout, but is a membership agency; moreover, membership is not compulsory. There are other mmebership agencies that do similar things for its members, that are proprietary to certain functions: Automobile Association of America (AAA, or "Triple A") does things along the lines of hotels, mechanics, that sort of thing, that are held to certain standards (members join for roadside assistance benefits and discounts, among other things; businesses join for promotional reasons as a sort of franchise). Thing is, though, that's about all I know about. Other organizations exist such as EFF and ACLU, but those are more for protection of Internet rights and general civil rights, respectively, and are more concerned with government action.

In the governments, you have your attorney generals, your consumer protection bureaus, and then you have courts, be they small claim (typically less than US$5000, some variance), or courts that oversee larger judgement cases.

Overall, that's kind of how it works in the US. I wish we had a non-gov agency that did things like thi, though.

Hmm... how would one go about forming one?

If wishes were horses (-1, Troll)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410691)

Boy the EU seems to be run by magical thinking. Why not pass a law outlawing death? you can't just wave your wand and say products must now be problem free.

One might want to counter argue that is apple can afford to sell a 2 year warrantee then they could afford to bundle that into the original price. That is to make everyone pay extra even if they don't want to pay extra for a 2 year warrantee.

Moreover if apple were just making products for the EU perhaps they might adjust their products a bit to accomodate that. Use less advanced components, derate processor speeds, use faster lourde fans. But they are making products for the world and also selling those in the EU.

Man, people think the US is arrogant but they sure don't have a sense of entitlement like the Europeans seem to. I bet the EU has outlawed raaaain on your wedding day.

Re:If wishes were horses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410741)

Yeah my reaction is the same. I think it's pretty typical for makers just starting out to warrant their products not by repairing them locally but by just replacing them with a new device. After a year you aren't even making the same device anymore. You can't just repair it without a lot of costly local infra structure of parts inventory and training of repair people.

The EU is just making things expensive and slowing innovation just to implement a protectionist trade barrier against non local merchants.

Actual text of law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410785)

Boy the EU seems to be run by magical thinking. Why not pass a law outlawing death? you can't just wave your wand and say products must now be problem free.

One might want to counter argue that is apple can afford to sell a 2 year warrantee then they could afford to bundle that into the original price. That is to make everyone pay extra even if they don't want to pay extra for a 2 year warrantee.

Moreover if apple were just making products for the EU perhaps they might adjust their products a bit to accomodate that. Use less advanced components, derate processor speeds, use faster lourde fans. But they are making products for the world and also selling those in the EU.

Man, people think the US is arrogant but they sure don't have a sense of entitlement like the Europeans seem to. I bet the EU has outlawed raaaain on your wedding day.

This is the text of the law:

Hush, little citizen, don't say a word,
Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird.
And if that mockingbird don't sing,
Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring.
And if that diamond ring turn brass,
Papa's gonna buy you a looking glass.
And if that looking glass gets broke,
Papa's gonna buy you a billy goat.
And if that billy goat don't pull,
Papa's gonna buy you a cart and bull.
And if that cart and bull turn over,
Papa's gonna buy you a dog named Rover.
And if that dog named Rover won't bark.
Papa's gonna to buy you and horse and cart.
And if that horse and cart fall down,
Well you'll still be the sweetest little baby in town.

Re:Actual text of law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410819)

this is...terrible...this idea.

Re:If wishes were horses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410787)

"you can't just wave your wand and say products must now be problem free"

*whoosh*

Re:If wishes were horses (0)

Nikker (749551) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410901)

I have to agree. Makes you wonder though if less warranty == better longer lasting product why offer one at all? It's not like other places in the world would force a company to offer a warranty.

Re:If wishes were horses (5, Insightful)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410921)

The law is supposed to ensure that when you spend £150 on something, it is supposed to work for at least 2 years (excluding anything you do to break it). That is not an unreasonable expectation. Any company that is unable to promise that their high-end electrical products will last for 24 months really don't deserve any sympathy.That is already quite a low expectation of build quality.

You might have a point if you're talking about throw-away cheap electronics which you don't need to last 2 years; but Apple certainly don't fall into that category.

Re:If wishes were horses (2)

RandomAdam (1837998) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411065)

I full agree,

My brother recient had a $1500NZD dell laptop fail after 15 months, he called dell and they said (paraaphrase) unlucky buddy that only has a 12 month warranty. He called the consumer protection agency (New Zealand consumer watchdog), they said someone can "reasonably expect" a laptop to last longer then 15months and essentially ordered dell to repair or repplace the laptop.

So they replaced the failed motheroard and all was well with the orld

Re:If wishes were horses (1)

RandomAdam (1837998) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411069)

Ok my dodgy laptop keyboard, makes me sound like an idiot :(

They were supposed to be: reciently and paraphrase.

Re:If wishes were horses (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411123)

reciently

It's not your keyboards' fault ;)

Seriously though, your brother was lucky Dell listened to the agency. Usually when such situations arise your only recourse is to go to court, which usually costs more than the product's value (even when you get legal expenses paid).

Re:If wishes were horses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411125)

:( I feel like you should have proofread this post a little more carefully, good sir.

Re:If wishes were horses (4, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411033)

You don't even grasp the slightest bit of that law (and thus you are the one with the magical thinking).
It goes like this: For two years, a consumer has the right to return a good (and either replace it with a similar product or get a refund), if it was already defective at the time it was sold. For the first six month after the sale, it is assumed, that any defect occuring was already present at the time of the sale, and the seller has to prove that the buyer didn't handle the product with care. For the remaining 18 month, it's assumed, that the product was mishandled, and then the buyer has to prove that the defect was present already at the time of the sale.

So nowhere this law assumes that products are faultfree for at least two years.

But AppleCare's warranties cover, what is already mandated by law, and the law requires that all warranties have to inform the prospective buyer about the legal protection he already has. And this is ommitted by AppleCare, thus it fraudulently sold a product to the buyer the buyer didn't really need.

Re:If wishes were horses (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411087)

Oh, are we trolling and yapping nonsense? Alrighty then:
US corporations shouldn't release such shitty products that constantly die within a few months to purposely defraud people and generate excessive amounts of toxic waste.

Re:If wishes were horses (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411163)

So why is the iPad $US399 in USA and 399 euro in Europe? Why are they paying 25% more? They're made in China, so the shipping costs won't be much different.

Re:If wishes were horses (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411189)

So, you're saying that Apple products are so shitty compared to other products sold in the EU (including those made in china), that they can't afford to follow warranty laws.

EU wide? (3, Interesting)

Formalin (1945560) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410333)

If the consumer association wins it's case, Apple could be forced to refund Applecare contracts to it's Belgian customers while providing the additional year of warranty for free.

Wouldn't they have to honour it in all of the EU, being EU law..?

I'm rather surprised they have been getting away with this, as it is. I thought EU was pretty strict with consumer rights, and would deal with it directly (as opposed to this independent organisation suing). Hrmm...

Re:EU wide? (4, Informative)

klingens (147173) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410367)

They do. Consumer protection associations all over the EU are working on it in pretty much every member country.
However, the EU only decides on directives, to put these into law, each member country has to write their own law to comply with their own constitution and other legal principles separately. Therefore to stop such an infringement, every country has to have its own lawsuit or other compliance process to rectify transgressions against a EU decision.

Re:EU wide? (3, Interesting)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410387)

Wouldn't they have to honour it in all of the EU, being EU law..?

As far as I know, most "EU law" is actually EU guidelines that are put into national laws by the member states. So the member states will have very similar laws, but it's not a single law that is applied to the entire EU.

In the case of Apple's warranty, there was an item about this yesterday in a Dutch consumer rights TV program (Radar). They said there was a lawsuit in Italy about this exact same issue and Apple lost there. So it's likely Apple will lose similar suits in other EU countries, but separate lawsuits are needed for each country.

Re:EU wide? (4, Funny)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410493)

As far as I know, most "EU law" is actually EU guidelines that are put into national laws by the member states.

Was I correct to read that in a pirate voice?

Re:EU wide? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411095)

According to EU regulation E74J2005-X12 this is mandatory.

They haven't gotten away with it (3, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410657)

The problem isn't that Apple has been getting away with it, if you insist, Apple folds pretty damn quickly, the problem is that you got to fight them. Sony tried to pull a similar stunt with the PSP and its lousy display with lots of dead pixels, Holland was the only place in the world where Sony officially agreed to replace any PSP with any malfunctioning sub-pixel. If you insisted yourself in a shop in another country you would probably have had it replaced BUT the law states that this should be the norm, not just for the customer who insists on his rights.

Apple is one of the worsed performers in this area, they have no problem charging far higher prices in the EU for the supposed thougher regulation but then try to withold the extra support that is needed. Probably because Apple is an extremely American company and they just can't grasp that in some parts of the world, they can't have it all their way.

The odd thing is that Europe is far easier to deal in, yes, there are longer warranties but then again, nobody can sue for millions for trivial cases. Warranty costs can be easily calculated and avoided with good QA (haha, Apple and QA) but frivolous lawsuits can come out at your right out of the blue.

Re:EU wide? (2)

Dot.Com.CEO (624226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410909)

They are. Apple are being blatantly disregarding the law and they will be made to comply. For what it's worth, in Portugal we get the full 2 years warranty in Apple products so it's probably a local distributor thing.

If the consumer association wins it's case ... (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410335)

"If the consumer association wins it's case,..." Doesn't sound like a big if.

Re:If the consumer association wins it's case ... (2)

indre1 (1422435) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410899)

It's strange that they've gotten away with it for so long. In most EU countries, each and every electronics shop states clearly that they offer a 2 year warranty to all retail clients, even if the manufacturer only provides one year. The retailers are simply obligated to take the extra risk and adjust their prices.

it's Belgian customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410339)

>it's Belgian customers
IT IS BELGIAN CUSTOMERS.

Speaking of which, Belgian Customers could have Marauder Shields in a fight.

Too long? (0, Flamebait)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410345)

Isn't it unreasonable to require a warranty longer than a year for a consumer product? Realistically, if the device you bought is defective you should realize it within a few months. But certainly a year is long enough to notice a defect and get a replacement/repair.

Re:Too long? (4, Interesting)

Avarist (2453728) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410369)

Isn't it unreasonable to require a warranty longer than a year for a consumer product? Realistically, if the device you bought is defective you should realize it within a few months. But certainly a year is long enough to notice a defect and get a replacement/repair.

Isn't it unreasonable to require your device to work properly for longer than a year. Realistically, if the device breaks down within two years it's poorly fabricated. But certainly if the device breaks down sooner and you have to buy a new one, the company makes more money.

Re:Too long? (3, Informative)

srjh (1316705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410405)

Warranties are also supposed to cover defects that materialise after some time and are not apparent at purchase.

Here in Australia, the law covers how long the item is reasonably expected to last, given its cost and quality. Given that the phones are often sold with two year contracts, the one year warranty is certainly deficient from that perspective. Having had two iPhones fail between the one year warranty and the two that should apply, I'm not too pleased about Apple dodging their responsibilities under our warranty law.

A $1000 phone that only lasts 13 months can't really be considered of merchantable quality, regardless of how quickly the industry progresses.

Re:Too long? (2)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410629)

The interesting things, here in Australia, are that (a) since the contract of sale is between you and the retailer the retailer is responsible for warranty repairs, and (b) in the case of devices that are sold with the cost amortised over the length of a contract (like phones), the ACCC considers that the warranty should last at least as long as the contract.

AFAIK, all major phone dealers now abide by that - warranties that last the length of the contract are standard, except for Telstra with iPhones (and they may have fallen in line with the rest of the industry since I last looked).

There are quirks there e.g. if you bought an iPhone outright from an Apple store, you'd get the basic 1 year warranty - but if you'd bought the same phone from the same store on a contract, you'd have two years. And in the first case Apple is the retailer (your contract of sale is with them), while in the second case Apple is acting as a sales agent for the actual retailer (your contract of sale is with the telco).

Re:Too long? (-1, Flamebait)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410689)

Having had two iPhones fail between the one year warranty and the two that should apply, I'm not too pleased about Apple dodging their responsibilities under our warranty law.

You know, despite the jokes on slashdot, you really are NOT supposed to insert them into your anus. Now you know why.

As far as the phone not being merchantable? You got a couple of outliers. Shit happens.

Re:Too long? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410845)

I think you miss the point. Most people know shit happens. The difference is in some countries Apple is supposed to deal with the shit, not the customer.

Re:Too long? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410925)

No, I missed no point. You, however, missed the context and what I actually said in order to make some childish point about America/Apple/whatever.

Grandparent:

A $1000 phone that only lasts 13 months can't really be considered of merchantable quality

Nowhere does he say that Apple should pay. He says that the product shouldn't even be sold.

My reply:

You got a couple of outliers. Shit happens.

Nowhere did I say that Apple shouldn't pay. The implication of my post is that his two units are either being used grossly improperly (my lewd comment about sex practices) but were in no way indicative of the phone in general, and that he certainly didn't present a compelling argument to ban sales of iPhones.

Does that help clear things up a little?

Re:Too long? (1)

srjh (1316705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411105)

... he certainly didn't present a compelling argument to ban sales of iPhones.

There's a good reason for that. I didn't attempt to present an argument to ban sales of iPhones. You well and truly missed the point.

"Merchantable quality" is a phrase that comes up in warranty law here, in that it if it fails before it's reasonably expected to, it's defective and the consumer deserves a refund. How you got "ban sales of iPhones" from that is a mystery to me. Grandparent is right - if "shit happens", it should be Apple's problem, not mine.

If you think Apple products only ever fail due to user error, the Reality Distortion Field is alive and kicking.

Re:Too long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410423)

Many products are built with a specific life expectancy, they're built to fail so to speak, and that's why in some places like the EU, companies are required by law to give longer warranties.

One very obvious product of that kind is the car, which consists mainly of wear-and-tear parts, and the companies are often making more money on car repairs and spare parts than on the car purchase itself. A car is often driven for 10-20 years, and that's why it generates more revenue during its lifespan than the original purchase ... that's why in the EU for instance, nobody purchases a car with less than 3 year warranty and eagerly take offers of extended 5 or 10 year warranties, even if they cost additional money.

With consumer electronics, people know that their product is essentially trash, built for a few bucks and sold for a few hundred bucks. The warranty is to ensure that the product will be worth the investment (i.e. last at least 1 or 2 years before it fails).

Especially Apple's throw-away computers that cost an arm and a leg, aren't worth their money unless they come at least with a couple years of warranty. I wouldn't purchase one with less than 5 years of warranty.

Re:Too long? (4, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410429)

Isn't it unreasonable to require a warranty longer than a year for a consumer product? Realistically, if the device you bought is defective you should realize it within a few months.

That's not the purpose of a warranty - at least, not the sole purpose, and not in my country (Australia). The mandatory warranty period is designed, not only to ensure that the product is fit for use at the time it's sold, but also that it meets a certain minimum level of durability and quality components.

Re:Too long? (2)

Drishmung (458368) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410439)

It depends on the product. How long is the reasonable life of a washing machine for instance? Do you consider that a consumer product? If the bowl has a seal that lasts 18 months and then fails, how could you be expected to spot that in a few months?

How about a battery that runs out of cycles in normal use after 15 months?

Re:Too long? (3, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411195)

How about a battery that runs out of cycles in normal use after 15 months?

Got caught by that one myself a few years back... My Acer laptop battery died after about 15 months, Acer told me that it was a "consumable" and therefore refused to replace it under the 2 year warranty (notably the replacement battery I bought has now died after a similar length of time, which suggests to me that the fault is in the laptop, not the battery). The upshot of all this is that neither myself, nor my business will ever touch an Acer product and we recommend to our customers that they avoid Acer too.

There were other problems that Acer refused to deal with. For example, the DSDT is broken on this hardware (Travelmate 6413), and Acer refused to acknowledge any fault or release a new BIOS, despite me fixing the DSDT and sending them the fixed code.

Re:Too long? (3, Insightful)

registrations_suck (1075251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410543)

Isn't it unreasonable to require a warranty longer than a year for a consumer product? Realistically, if the device you bought is defective you should realize it within a few months. But certainly a year is long enough to notice a defect and get a replacement/repair.

I have a Macbook Pro 13". Just outside of the 1-year warranty period, one of the memory slots has mysteriously gone bad and no longer works (yes, it's the slot, not the memory). Also just outside of the 1-year warranty period, the DVD drive died. About the two year mark, the internal hard drive cable (yes, the cable) died. Memory slot? Hard drive cable? That's nothing put poor design or faulty manufacturing. No WAY those are any kind of user abuse issues. The DVD drive at least has some moving parts - not that that is any excuse either. I agree, there are plenty of abusers out there who break their shit and then cry "warranty" - but there are plenty of other legitimate cases too. All of that said, I don't think a government has any business dictating warranty periods - it's something the free market should determine.

Re:Too long? (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410799)

the free market

That does NOT exist.

Re:Too long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410895)

Free market is like communism. The ones that swear by it think it will fix every problem that ever existed. Also, just like communism, pure free market has never existed, and never will. Also, just like communism, free market will only work in theory.

Re:Too long? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410987)

The pure free market will work until the first merchant misrepresents the quality of his products in a trade and gets shot through the head. Then we'll have a mixed market.

Re:Too long? (2)

jjjhs (2009156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410637)

No. Regardless of how disposable you and manufacturers think electronics are, some people save and use their hard earned money to buy these things (as opposed to charging it and carrying a balance by only paying the minimum/interest or 0% financing gimmicks). Though, I think a mandatory warranty law just raises prices to cover replacement parts/repair, instead of actually increasing the product's build quality.

I used the warranty for a cheap mouse/kb from Logitech, and my G9x. I had an HP laptop with the overheating nvidia chipset that affected more than just me, it was repaired out of warranty but someone had to be sued first.

The U.S. economy would collapse for sure if everything didn't fail so easily and spending lowered, since all our stuff is made in China.

Bend over some more Yank (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410699)

Warranty is simple, it is the period of time in which you can REASONABLY expect a product to keep functioning. 2 years isn't even the upper limit, for things that you can expect to function for longer, like a washing machine, a car etc etc, it is far longer. However, after 2 years, the warranty does go down, cosmetic issues are no longer covered but if after two years your washing machine falls apart, it should STILL be repaired for free.

What the little sheep mosb1000 doesn't get that warranty is NOT about DOA, devices that are broken when you buy them, but about devices that break down to fast. Warranty is repair of any issues in device that occur that are not part of its normal deterioration of its expected lifetime.

Simply put, if I buy a oLed tablet, the blues going out after a period of time is not covered under warranty since this is to be expected. The paint on my car going off after a decade (if that is still normal) is not covered since that is expected. Rust holes forming after 5 years in a decent car IS covered since this is not to be expected anymore.

This also allows some devices to fall under 2 years, under 1 year and even shorter. If you buy a led blinker for your bike, coming back in 1 year that the battery is empty isn't covered of course. Complaining that paper decoration runs after only one winter in the rain is likely not to covered either no matter how much you sue.

But a normal customer should be able to use a device in a good condition under normal use for a reasonable amount of time and if that isn't possible, this should either be reflected in the price, have a very good reason or the producer should repair it.

Only complete and utter sheep think otherwise.

Re:Too long? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411161)

it's not unreasonable. think about it. it's an electronics device, if it's so shitty it breaks in a year it's a hazard.

but here's the kicker: they're responsible for manufacturing defects forever! if the fault can be shown to have been a manufacturing defect(a defect present at sale) and it manifests itself 5 years later, they'll still have to fix it!

Seriously? (1, Interesting)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410373)

Are you kidding me? I mean, the EU has some pretty solid consumer and worker protection laws that I like quite a bit, but let me get this straight, they mandate the duration of warranty? Does this mean secondhand sales are illegal? What about consumer products not intended to last two years, are those just banned outright?

Nobody says you have to buy Apple's products. Your opt-out is your wallet. I'm sure there are smartphones, computers, and tablets available with more favorable terms of warranty. What is the justification for this kind of heavy-handedness?

Thank God you've got France right there, or else you might not have enough cheese to go with all that whine.

Re:Seriously? (3, Informative)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410401)

Does this mean secondhand sales are illegal?

No the 2 year warrenty is only for new goods. And if you sell secondhand within the 2 years the original warranty(The one you got when you bought the product as new) will stil cover the product.

And I need to ask: What kind of electronic products do you buy which are expected to break down within a year?

Re:Seriously? (2)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410601)

I've become accustomed to Americans reacting like this in regards to warranty comments.
They have no concept of decent support, sure they get the cheapest prices in the world but the cheapest shit too. When it breaks down - tough.

Australia thank goodness has a 1 year warranty on items, too, PERIOD. If something breaks it should be looked after. I recall Americans claiming they only got 3 month warranties on the Xbox 360 (initially) - I don't know if this is true or just misinformation but it seems many customers were convinced if it died after then, tough - on a 500$ item

Madness.

Re:Seriously? (4, Funny)

fido_dogstoyevsky (905893) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410665)

Does this mean secondhand sales are illegal?

No the 2 year warrenty is only for new goods. And if you sell secondhand within the 2 years the original warranty(The one you got when you bought the product as new) will stil cover the product.

And I need to ask: What kind of electronic products do you buy which are expected to break down within a year?

Anything made by Apple?

Declaration of Interest: posted in part (about 20%) to annoy my daughter who likes her mac.

Re:Seriously? (3, Informative)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410499)

A primary function of regulators in the marketplace is to define standard units of measure and minimum terms of standard classes of contracts, such as contracts for retail sale of durable goods. Just as standards for weight of produce are needed, so too are standards of durability for durable goods, otherwise the customer can't compare costs on a level basis.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410507)

For consumer protection law that works well, see New Zealand. [consumeraffairs.govt.nz]

Nice and simple. Goods and services must be

  • As described
  • Fit for purpose
  • Of merchantable quality

"Merchantable quality" means that while some things might be expected to last less than a year, a PC is expected to last two or three.

Note that redress is with the vendor, not the manufacturer, and it works really well in practice, If your PC breaks after 18 months, you take it back and they fix, replace or refund with barely a murmur (because consumers over the years know their rights).

Re:Seriously? (5, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410509)

If there was no regulation on a warranty it would continue the race to the bottom in a short term grab for more cash.

It's *not* heavy-handed at all. If you can't manufacturer a product to last 3 years, or at least within a certain failure rate, you are cutting corners and fucking the consumer.

2nd hand sales have always been exempt, and the warranty has always followed the product. In some cases it took me getting to a few supervisors, but I have never failed to get an RMA for a product in warranty without any proof of purchase. The product itself is proof I am covered under the warranty.

I don't know what consumer products are intended to last less than two years anyways. If you mean some sort of consumable than that is usually exempt from any kind of warranty. In fact, if it is not intended to last for a certain period I believe that is called an expiration date. Products like that clearly do not have a warranty in a classical sense.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410759)

Careful. They might start selling computers with expiration dates now. lol

I wouldn't be surprised if they were already.

Re:Seriously? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410863)

If you can't manufacturer a product to last 3 years, or at least within a certain failure rate, you are cutting corners and fucking the consumer.

Not environmentally friendly too.

Re:Seriously? (5, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410511)

What is the justification for this kind of heavy-handedness?

Consumer protection. Enacted by a government formed by the very citizens the law was enacted to protect. You (most likely) and I (for sure) are from the US; we're not use to government working *for us* though, so I'm not shocked you're unfamiliar with the concept.

Re:Seriously? (-1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410911)

Consumer protection. Enacted by a government formed by the very citizens the law was enacted to protect. You (most likely) and I (for sure) are from the US; we're not use to government working *for us* though, so I'm not shocked you're unfamiliar with the concept.

As a citizen, I expect to have the freedom to purchase a product with a 3 month warranty, if that's what I chose.

As a geek, I find it insulting (and sad) that my fellow /.ers overwhelmingly believe I'm not competent to make that choice.

As a voter, I will not tolerate a politician that wishes to abrogate my choice and substitute their own decision for my own.

As an adult, I do not accept that the word "protection" ever applies to the act of restricting someone's choices "for their own good". This is the rhetoric of drug warriors, porn-fighters, prohibitionists and nanny-staters.

As a (wanna-be) European, you are not used to being allowed to chose many things for yourself, so I'm not shocked that you are unfamiliar with the concept.

As a consumer, I weigh whether to purchase a particular item from a reputable company with a track record of quality service or a no-name brand. Sometimes the balance of factors weigh towards the former, sometimes the latter -- it really depends on the use case, the deprecation cycle, the expected technological improvements, whether I foresee the product being permanent, how critical a failure might be, how easy it is to repair myself and any number of other factors.

As a /.er, you are not used to fact-intensive decisions being made on a case-by-case basis rather than applying some top-down principle that solves every possible case, so I'm not shocked that you might be unfamiliar with the assertion that sometimes a shitty no-name is the better choice.

Re:Seriously? (5, Funny)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410979)

Heh, only in the US people vehemently argue for their right to get screwed.

Re:Seriously? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411005)

These clowns are absolutely unbelievable sometimes. No wonder they get screwed over by companies so badly over there - some of them seem to LIKE it.

Re:Seriously? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411103)

They're not rights if WE THE PEOPLE didn't define them in the first place! And I argue that most of the shit passed as laws today should be null-and-void due to corruption anyhow. So in retrospect under that framework. Yes, I enjoy getting screwed. It's an exercise in the freedom of choice.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410519)

Are you kidding me? Apple refuses a standard 2-year warranty for its products that are supposed to be 'quality'? So much for standing behind the quality of your product... ... and you're hardly one to complain about others whining, with that piteous beauty you've just posted.

Re:Seriously? (1)

dacarr (562277) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410669)

If your electronics are lasting less than three years, you're buying shite electronics. I carry a Nexus One - it's lasted two years because I don't get it wet and take care of it, and despite a few drops on concrete here and there, has operated wonderfully for two years - the only reason I would upgrade at this point is to get a newer version of Android.

Re:Seriously? (1)

ovande (2599137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410915)

Of course nobody has to buy Apple products but that is not the point. The 2 year waranty law came into effect on 1/1/2005. A lot of customers thought they were covered by this law and didn't buy Applecare. On secondhand sales from retailer to consumer there is one year mandatory warranty in Belgium and other EU countries.

Re:Seriously? (4, Insightful)

cbope (130292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410965)

You see, here in the EU we actually have something called consumer rights. Our politicians are not completely owned by corporations as in the US, and corporations cannot screw over the consumer without consequences.

An electronic device is considered "durable goods", and as such comes with a 2 year warranty in the EU.

Why do you jump to defend the corporations that are trying to screw you with defective or poorly made merchandise?

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410969)

Are *you* kidding me? How is it that expensive electronics (which is what the mandatory minimal 2 year warranty is for, by the way) should be expected to last not even 2 years, or even 3, 4 years? Keep in mind this is basic warranty, it obviously doesn't cover things like people smashing their phones into a concrete wall (which applecare may actually cover, I don't know).

I think it's very reasonable, and considering how easy it would be for manufacturers to simple agree with eachother to make crappy products that don't last longer than 1-2 years and depend on consumers having to replace them every so often, I'm totally fine with this requirement. (oh, the times this saved me from having to shell out another $200-300 because of an nvidia video card crapping out for no good reason..).

tl;dr: I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect something like a $600 iPad to not fail within 4 years. I'll take the 2 years as a compromise.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411019)

Agree, if Apple where smart they would use their "warchest" to buy up countries, kind of like what the jews did with palestine. Then they can do whatever they feel like. The world is too small for Apple.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411141)

Are you kidding me? I mean, the EU has some pretty solid consumer and worker protection laws that I like quite a bit, but let me get this straight, they mandate the duration of warranty? Does this mean secondhand sales are illegal? What about consumer products not intended to last two years, are those just banned outright?

Thank God you've got France right there, or else you might not have enough cheese to go with all that whine.

It depends on the member state, but in the Netherlands there is no fixed period but a phasing that specifies "reasonable" warranty duration, where reasonable is determined by case law, product price and similar products. However, for most devices there is an absolute minimum of one year (eg. a cheap netbook) or three years (for more costly goods like washing machines and other long-lasting hardware).

Nobody says you have to buy Apple's products. Your opt-out is your wallet. I'm sure there are smartphones, computers, and tablets available with more favorable terms of warranty. What is the justification for this kind of heavy-handedness?

No, it isn't. When I buy something and its crap, I'm screwed, and I can't "vote with my wallet". There is no decent, reliable source of information that provides me with insight of who produces crap, so I can't vote with my wallet beforehand (except for the typical blog postings and tweets, which are usually baseless shouting and/or completely anecdotal). There are a few consumer programmes on TV, okay, but the whole point of those is for corporations to get their shit together and do things right. If I throw out all the companies that were featured on such a programme in the past I couldn't actually buy anything any more.

On another note, the Dutch consumer authority is currently also considering steps. However they're required by law to first discuss with apple, which they are currently doing (see this article [iusmentis.com] (Dutch, with some legalese)).

To which Apple replied... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410407)

Belgium [quora.com] ...

And everyone was so offended that they forgot about the lawsuit entirely.

its its its (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410411)

its its its, goddamnit

It's = It is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410413)

See above. Typical Slashdot editing moan/bitch etc.

So what... (1)

jaymemaurice (2024752) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410473)

Market dictates that if Apple products sold in EU countries come with 2 year Apple care and the ones in a non EU country do not, the ones sold from the EU countries should be worth more then the ones that are sold in non-EU countries if the warranty is included... meaning the price will have to reflect that and will likely be passed to consumers or a side market will be created. The same happened in the UAE where North American iPhones are sold here due to the lack of Facetime on UAE version...

So? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410709)

They do cost more in Europe. What is your point?

For an easy compare, see EU and US prices in iTunes compared against exchange rates.

Re:So what... (0)

jcr (53032) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411155)

Bingo. Apple will just increase the price to account for the cost of the extended warranty, and EU consumers don't get to choose whether they want to pay the difference or not. Woo, hoo! Big win for consumers. NOT.

-jcr

Waffles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410489)

I think Test-Achats is just mad that Apple products don't make waffles...yet.

just raise the price... extended warrantees cost $ (1)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410663)

Longer warrantees directly translate to higher costs. So Apple just needs to add 50 euros to the price to cover the increased warrantee. But I wonder what a typical consumer would choose: higher price or smaller warrantee. I know that I always turn down the offers for extended warrantees... What's the diff? except in EU, no choice in the matter...

Re:just raise the price... extended warrantees cos (5, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410767)

Longer warrantees directly translate to higher costs

Only in the short term. Longer warranties translate to products designed to last longer which then have a lower cost of ownership. Of course, if all you care about is getting the latest shiny object from the factories in China, then you probably don't care about the warranty. But, consider that if you plan to sell your device and buy a new one, longer product lives translate to higher resale value.

Re:just raise the price... extended warrantees cos (1)

ovande (2599137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410933)

No. Just the opposite. If Apple will adapt ( finaly) their warranty they can never ever justify the 249 euro Applecare ( on a MacBook Air) for the third year.

They simply adjust prices (0)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410779)

In countries where they have been forced into longer warranties, they simply raised their prices, essentially including the additional warranty in the base price.

Warranty lengths (3, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411061)

I believe that the warranty length does have an effect on product design though. If you only have to worry about maintaining something at your own expense for 1 year, you'll design it differently than if you have to support it for 2, 5 or whatever.

Because you want to sell at the lowest price possible, if you have to warranty it to the point where repair/replacement costs become too significant, building it better is actually cheaper than providing warranty support.

Now, I'm normally free market as all heck. But look at the environmental chain - building a fridge that has an average lifespan last a decade might cost 10% more than one that will only last 5. But 2 fridges, each with 90% of the resources of the long lasting one, is still 180% of the resources. Sure, they might be 90% recyclable, but you're still down.

Where does the problem come in? Nobody really offers the longer warranties by choice. I'm forced to go by brand name, consumer reports, and hopefully luck. Brand Name - quality ebbs and flows. Consumer reports doesn't get enough time to test, especially since quality varies over the years. That leaves mostly luck.

Summary is bullshit flamebait (5, Informative)

Udo Schmitz (738216) | more than 2 years ago | (#39410929)

You may be surprised that a summary on /. is less than correct ... OK I'll leave the snark out.

Repeat after me: *There is NO “mandatory 2 years warranty” in the European Union*

What there is, is a “Maengelhaftung”, which is usually translated to “Liability for defects”. This is to be granted by the *seller* of a consumer good to a consumer. It is valid for 2 years from the date of purchase. Any defect showing in the first 6 months is assumed to be a manufacturing error, burden of proof of the opposite is with the seller, for the remaining 18 months the customer has to proof that the defect was already present at time of purchase.

As Apple sells its products in its own stores in europe (online included) it adheres to EU law, if Apple products are sold through a third party, the consumer has to deal with that third party.

Apple grants a voluntary 1 year warranty. This actually strengthens the purchasers position, because the above mentioned “burden of proof” now lies with Apple for the first *12* months. No consumer advocacy group in Europe has a problem with this.

But Apple additionally sells “Apple Care” contracts, which extend Apples warranty to three years. If you read closely this far, you'll notice that this is a much better protection for the consumer than the mandatory “Liability for defects” the EU imposes and absolutely doesn't touch this EU Directive. Regardless of any voluntary or sold warranty the EU Directive still stands.

Now, what the european consumer advocacy groups say is that Apple misleads the already (through the “Liability for defects” EU Directive) fine protected consumer into believing they wouldn't be protected after 12 months without buying Apple Care. If people are very stupid, and often they are, this could very well be the case.

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31999L0044:EN:HTML [europa.eu]

Re:Summary is bullshit flamebait (4, Insightful)

headLITE (171240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411085)

Was about to post this... the summary gives an entirely wrong idea. All four linked sources have it right, but slashdot being slashdot manages to get it all wrong...

Note that in some countries this is also a language issue. There is a difference between defects liability (two years in the EU, applies to the business that actually sold you the product, first six months the burden of proof is on the seller) and a warranty (a promise that a business may make as part of a business transaction, such as the one year warranty that Apple provides voluntarily but that is not required at all by EU law). In German these are also clearly distinguished ("Gewährleistung" vs. "Garantie") but in French, for example, as far as I know it's one word for both ("garantie").

So the problem here is that Apple is being misleading due to a language issue and failing to explain the difference between different types of a "garantie". There isn't really a story in this anyway, anyone who knows how warranties and defects liability work in the EU knows that Apple as a manufacturer can only be offering a voluntary warranty, and that the store where you actually buy the product is subject to defects liability, and it's not Apple's job as a manufacturer to explain that on its web site.

They are consumers, ya gotta protect consumers.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410937)

besides, those consumer protection laws have been on display at the protection law office down in a cellar for a year now... does apple have any idea how much damage that union would suffer if they let this lawsuit run straight over them?

Do you know why light bulbs only lasted 1000h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39410955)

starting in 1930, although they lasted more than 2500h in 1925? Because the manufacturers came together and decided they wanted to sell more light bulbs.

Some hardware is just made to break after a certain time, like printers that stop printing after a certain number of pages, or maybe the Imacs that have capacitors specced for 85 degrees C right next to the CPU, where they could just as easily used ones specced for 115 degrees for a couple of cents more.
So the 2 year mandatory warrenty in the EU can really screw up your business modell when you depend on selling a new gadget to your customer every year.

This is also an issue in the Netherlands (1)

Askmum (1038780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411147)

Apple doe the same in the Netherlands. The consumer organisation (consumentenbond) has warned Apple to inform customers about the minimum of 2 years of warranty wich is guaranteed by law (as opposed to the 1 year Apple is offering, and they also offer the 2 and 3 years extended 'AppleCare Protection Plan' at a price in the Netherlands).
The "consumentenbond" is contemplating legal actions if they don't change their ways:
http://www.consumentenbond.nl/actueel/nieuws/nieuwsoverzicht-2012/apple-moet-duidelijker-zijn-over-garantie/ [consumentenbond.nl]

European Warranty (5, Informative)

ovande (2599137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411157)

Some explanation about the 2 year warranty in Europe. This was a 1999 EC directive ( (Directive 1999/44/EC) . From 2005 it became law in a lot of European countries. Initially this directive was to curb cheap imports from Asia. Manufacturers - like Apple and others - were not targets. In fact , retailers are solely responsible for all warranty repairs. Now comes the tricky bit: in lot's of cases retailers were not covered for the second year warranty by their suppliers. That why they forced the unnecessary Applecare upon their clients. But now : If you buy an Apple product online they become a retailer , so they had to comply with the EC directive. Which they did not. The headline is somewhat misleading. It's not only Belgium. There are 10 other countries involved.
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