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Belgian Consumer Organization Sues Apple For Not Respecting Warranty Law

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the obey-the-speed-limit dept.

EU 168

New submitter thygate writes with news of more trouble for Apple with its warranty terms complying with E.U. regulations. From the press release: "For many years warranty issues are at the top of the charts of complaints dealt with by consumer organizations. 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. A lawsuit against Apple has been filed (English translation; original)) with the Commercial Court of Brussels. In a precedent in Italy, The commercial practices of Apple were found to be misleading. Apple was sentenced to pay € 900,000 and was obliged to change their contractual legal warranty and guarantees to consumers."

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Precedent? (4, Interesting)

crankyspice (63953) | about 2 years ago | (#42588841)

In Brussels, from an Italian court? I thought the EU countries (except England, which is still Common Law) were civil law jurisdictions, which don't recognize stare decisis (i.e., no "precedent" from prior decisions)...?

Re:Precedent? (4, Informative)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#42588927)

Even then, Belgium and Italy are fully independent judiciaries. What is law in Italy is not necessarily law in Belgium. Though of course with the EU slowly but surely laws in the various member countries are getting aligned.

A much better expression would be "a similar case".

Nevertheless, court cases are sometimes filed to test or clarify the law in those jurisdictions. If a court rules one way in one case, it will likely rule the same way in a highly similar case.

Re:Precedent? (4, Informative)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 2 years ago | (#42589425)

There is also the fact that even where precedent does not apply judges do look strongly at what other judges in similar cases elsewhere had found and consider their rulings very highly when making their own determinations.
It's still quite common for example for Judges in the US to look at rulings under British case-law where similar cases were decided although British courts have no precedent-power over US ones, the findings of those judges are useful. For starters if there are evidentiary differences it may well be useful to ask "why" (particularly when the same companies are involved).

Re:Precedent? (2, Informative)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 2 years ago | (#42590019)

That would be because US has largely derived its system from British case law.

Tell that to an Italian who worked in the system, and you'll be laughed out of the room as an "ignorant yankee". And he'll be correct.

Remember, while Old World's legal system are generally derived from combination of Roman justice system, Catholic courts and to an extent Napoleon Code, they have extreme nationalist pride of thousands of years that they in fact represent justice in their own country, and other country's justice has nothing to do with it.

The reason why this is filed in Brussels is because Brussels is Belgian capital city. Italian case was tried in Italian courts, that have a very different system. As grandparent point out, there's little to no stare decisis between two systems, for obvious reasons of these being different court systems. About the only comparison that could be drawn is that both laws are drawn on basis of the same EU directive. But even these laws are only BASED on the directive, and typically implement it in different ways to suit each country's legal system. A great example of this has been the copyright legislation, which varies from it being legal to download whatever you want for your personal use in Spain to it being illegal here in Finland. All based on the same directive.

Re:Precedent? (-1, Troll)

Zemran (3101) | about 2 years ago | (#42589039)

The case starts in Italy (=state law) and is passed up to the European court in Brussels (=federal law). Do not let a Europhile read those terms but that is what it is equivalent to. It does not matter what is decided at local level, if Brussels decides otherwise the local law is trumped.

Re:Precedent? (5, Informative)

patrickv (3481) | about 2 years ago | (#42589131)

The case starts in Italy (=state law) and is passed up to the European court in Brussels (=federal law). Do not let a Europhile read those terms but that is what it is equivalent to. It does not matter what is decided at local level, if Brussels decides otherwise the local law is trumped.

It is not passed up to an "European court". It is a Belgian court seated in Brussels which will have to rule according to Belgian law. Both The Italian and Belgian courts have some common ground, because the national laws are based on EU directives. EU directives are legal frameworks, but leave it up to national laws to decide on fines, for example.
The European court of justice is seated in Luxembourg, and has no business in the present case.

Re:Precedent? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589511)

both cases are based upon a UE directive that states that every item sold in the UE has to have 2 years warranty while Apple tell its users that they have only 1 year warranty and can buy an extention to 2-3 years so both cases have a common ground (the UE directive) but the actual results, fines and such can differ as per local laws.

Re:Precedent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589691)

Actually, the Belgian 2 year warranty law predates EU directive.

Re:Precedent? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#42589395)

You can't compare it like that.

I don't know exactly how it works (it's far too complex for a layman to understand well), but afaik most European laws have to be implemented in every single country before they become valid there, and as a result there are diffences between countries. European laws do not necessarily trump local laws, especially when it concerns local issues, like this warranty case.

Re:Precedent? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589553)

You can't compare it like that.

I don't know exactly how it works (it's far too complex for a layman to understand well), but afaik most European laws have to be implemented in every single country before they become valid there, and as a result there are diffences between countries. European laws do not necessarily trump local laws, especially when it concerns local issues, like this warranty case.

Sure I can, just like people can bitch about the USA not following "International Law". Doesn't make any of us correct.

Except they are right you are wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42590195)

The USA DEFINITELY AND KNOWINGLY ignore international law.

Germany still wants some US forces people to come to Germany to give evidence in a death. Not face court charged, but to give evidence.

USA got them back on base and shifted them back to the USA and refuse to let the German court summon them.

Re:Precedent? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#42590115)

I don't know exactly how it works

Indeed.

it's far too complex for an imbecile to understand, but I'm going to spout off as if I'm an expert [...] but afaik most European laws have to be implemented in every single country before they become valid there, and as a result there are diffences

It should basically be a translation. Any differences would be accidental. Countries certainly can't intentionally rephrase them to grossly change their effect; there'd be no point having EU directives if that were the case.

European laws do not necessarily trump local laws, especially when it concerns local issues, like this warranty case.

So what's all this about, then? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Precedent? (4, Funny)

GNious (953874) | about 2 years ago | (#42589159)

We have a gay Italian as prime minister in Belgium - might have changed things a bit.

Re:Precedent? (1)

fonske (1224340) | about 2 years ago | (#42589659)

Our prime minister is bisexual.
French "A voile et à vapeur"
Translation: His fancy can be tickled by sail and steam.

Re:Precedent? (3, Informative)

ta_gueule (2795275) | about 2 years ago | (#42589243)

"stare decisis" is a legal term. "Precedent" is a common term. This article is not written for lawyers like you so you can not sue them over the use of the term. There is indeed a precedent in Italy because it happened before this, and the 3 years legal guarantee is European law. Each state can implement European law the way they want but they both have to implement it.

Re:Precedent? (0)

crankyspice (63953) | about 2 years ago | (#42589317)

(1) Even if the term "precedent" is being used as a non-legal-term-of-art, it still doesn't apply; one of the principal distinguishing characteristics of civil law jurisdictions is it doesn't matter what another court has done before. All primary law is codified in a jus civile system, whereas in a jus gentium system statutes are only the beginning of the analysis, and judicial "decisional law" (i.e., precedent) must also be considered.

(2) There's no "3 years[sic] legal guarantee" in Europe; the EU mandates a two year warranty coverage (with a three year statute of limitations). http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/consumers/protection_of_consumers/l32022_en.htm [europa.eu]

Re:Precedent? (2)

mindwhip (894744) | about 2 years ago | (#42589463)

No but Apple are *selling* 3 year 'warranties' in a way that is misleading as they don't cover the failures and repairs that the buyer is told they do at point of sale.

At best this is a description of goods issue which is a big thing here in the EU and can attract large fines if proved to be intentional. At worst it is deliberate criminal fraud which could see someone going to prison.

Also while the EU only mandates two years several countries have different definitions which go beyond what the EU directives require and can also be as fuzzy as 'reasonable lifespan', 'sufficient quality' and 'fit for purpose' which could easily be expected to mean 3 years for a â500 electronics device (and 5-10 years for large white goods such as washing machines, cookers etc).

You must remember this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42590209)

This is a story about Apple being in the wrong and punished.

Therefore there MUST be something sinister and wrong going on, because Apple are loveley smoochy bunnies and love all their customers, every one.

You may be hearing echoes of "Mom" from Momcorp in reading the above. It is not a co-incidence...

Re:Precedent? (1)

ta_gueule (2795275) | about 2 years ago | (#42589637)

(1) You obviously didn't understand what I wrote. Your language is not understandable because it contains non-english and barbaric terms. Jus civile and Jus gentium are latin terms that you would use as a lawyer, I suppose. We are not in a court room and the term "precedent" does indeed apply. It shows the reader of the article that there is a pattern that is repeating itself. It doesn't matter to the court room but it does matter to the readers of the article.

(2) So that's a 2 year legal warranty. Apple does not make it clear what is covered for free (legal guarantee) and what is covered for the money you pay (commercial guarantee). The customers are mislead because they are not lawyers and they don't know what is legal and should come free with any device. Apple is using this ignorance to its advantage, which is wrong and probably not legal.

Re:Precedent? (0)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 2 years ago | (#42590025)

Fun detail: word "barbaric" originally referred to any non-Latin terms. The original meaning was "bar-bar language" which means something primitive and indecipherable.

You trying to peddle it as a way to describe Latin words which notably function to define exact meanings in current legal system in many countries likely including your own is quite hilarious in itself.

Re:Precedent? (1, Insightful)

fatphil (181876) | about 2 years ago | (#42589805)

> Even if the term "precedent" is being used as a non-legal-term-of-art, it still doesn't apply; one of the principal distinguishing characteristics of civil law ...

WOHHHHH!!! Stop there. What bit about not imbuing any law-related implications on the term are you misunderstanding? Maybe you should put down your law-books, they're clearly clouding your mind, and just look at an English-language dictionary for a definition of the word:

PRECEDENT n.
1 : an earlier occurrence of something similar

Case closed.

Re:Precedent? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 2 years ago | (#42590035)

Parent's point is that it occurred:

1. In a different legal system.
2. In a different country.
3. Based on a different law.

Re:Precedent? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589349)

It's a separate case. The one in Italy was by their local consumer organisation and counts as a precedent in Europe.
Test-Aankoop is just doing the same thing, but in Belgium.

Good thing too, although nothing changes for everyone who has been aware of their rights. Just threatening companies who try to ignore the law with it, makes them give in to you since they want to avoid any publicity about this so even more people would know their rights.

Re:Precedent? (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | about 2 years ago | (#42589753)

Jurisprudence is also used in countries that don't have common-law systems (basically most non-Anglo-Saxon countries). It's just that it has a certain weight, and it's not the prevalent mean of decision.

Re:Precedent? (2)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 2 years ago | (#42589879)

There is European regulation about how consumer warranties are supposed to be implemented in member country legistlation. Both Belgium and Italy have this legislation in place. In Italy, Apple already lost a trail on the exact same warranty, so the chance that they'll win the trail in Belgium is negligible. In the Netherlands they changed the warranty before they got sued by a consumer organization. They did however lost several court cases to individuals that sued them on their warranty.

Re:Precedent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42590169)

"Precedent" does have meaning beyond case law, you know. It is a common-language term used to reference any related preceding event.

Obligated (3, Interesting)

holophrastic (221104) | about 2 years ago | (#42588845)

I hardly think that Apple was obliged to change anything. Probably obligated, but not obliged.

Re:Obligated (5, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#42588875)

Any company that is not obligated to act for it's customers will eventually be obliged to close it's doors.

Re:Obligated (5, Funny)

holophrastic (221104) | about 2 years ago | (#42588945)

Still more likely "Any company that is not obliged to act for its customers will eventually be obligated to close its doors."

Re:Obligated (0)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#42588965)

It is a given certainty that when one posts quickly on Slashdot and misplaces an apostrophe shall quickly invoke the ire of the Grammar Nazi's.

Re:Obligated (2)

holophrastic (221104) | about 2 years ago | (#42588993)

I was pointing more to the obliged vs obligated word choice. But yes, the posessive apostrophe is one of the dumbest things in the language.

Re:Obligated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589003)

Isn't it Nazis?
The apostrophe signifies ownership?

Re:Obligated (1)

Sique (173459) | about 2 years ago | (#42589285)

In this case, we have a foreign abreviation of a foreign word (Nazi from Nationalsozialist). If you modify the word due to the english grammar, you can denote the original core by separating the word and the grammar endings with an apostrophe.

Re:Obligated (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42589475)

If you modify the word due to the english grammar, you can denote the original core by separating the word and the grammar endings with an apostrophe.

If you put NAZI in all caps, then you can use your precious apostrophe. But now Nazi is just a word in the dictionary, and it's time to let the apostrophe free for other jobs. You're just holding it back.

Re:Obligated (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#42589419)

Pardon me, but you missed a whole two leter word in that sentence, not merely an apostrophe.

Re:Obligated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589233)

In the case of Apple, though, are you and me their customers or simply their bitches? Is the product the device or the data from/about its users?

Re:Obligated (2)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#42589359)

Any company that is not obligated to act for it's customers will eventually be obliged to close it's doors.

Oooh, I think you forgot to add "... in Europe", due to their stronger consumer-protection laws.
In United States, several larger companies seem to be doing quite well acting for the politicians and sometimes for the shareholders (in that order).

Re:Obligated (2)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about 2 years ago | (#42589769)

I'm sorry, but that's completely clueless.

The idea that europe has "stronger consumer protection laws" is utterly false in practice.

While yes, in europe you have some statutary differences compared to the USA - for example, a categorical right to return items purchase by post, what you do NOT have in europe, in general, is the ability to sue companies directly and/or seek punitive damages except in extremely extraordinary cases that require a myriad of hoops to be jumped through. rather, the mechanisms to go after misbehaving companies relies on public ombudspersons and "trading standards agencies" and the like who tend to go after systemic issues with an eye towards compromise, not correction and who are themselves more often than not very sympathetic to the industries they oversee and their rights to a 'fair profit.' as a result, consumer protection in practice is MUCH weaker in europe than it is in the USA simply because in the USA you can sue.

I could give you hundreds of stories to illustrate this claim. let's pick a few.

medical malpractice is a huge one. i have a friend who went in for laser hair removal on her legs at an expensive private clinic in harley street, london. due to incompetence, they mis-set the temperature of the laser which gave my friend burns/welts which lasted for over 4 years. in the USA, this would be an open and shut case with a several hundred thousands dollar judgement for the plaintiff's pain and suffering and as a punative lesson to the for profit clinic to put in safeguards to ensure that this doesnt happen again. in the UK? as my friend is not employed as a model and she could still work, lawyers advised her that her claim might be worth GBP 1000 if that.. hardly worth the effort. there was no good or likely outcome to obtain a punative result against the clinic (even if the punative amount paid went to charity). in short, the company can keep doing what it's doing.

multiply this accross virtually every industry imaginable. most of europe's product safety standards are simply copied from the US, where they arise due to the US lawsuit culture. of course we all hate there being too many lawyers, but one of the positives of it is that it does lead to safer products (though occasionally over-safe).

Another example: ryanair routinely engages in egregious behavior that would be sued out of existence in the USA. for example, they engaged in wholesale fraud and deceptive business practices to avoid playing volcano-related claims. who went after them? nobody. because a lack of ability to do a class action against them due to the highly consumer unfriendly culture in europe.

hoenstly, i know you're trying to reason from first principles and your sterotype of europe as "over-regulated" or wahtever, but in terms of consumer protection, you're completely and totally wrong.

Re:Obligated (2)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#42589995)

The idea that europe has "stronger consumer protection laws" is utterly false in practice.

I will admit that I am not familiar with European laws -- but I refer you to this particular article. Europe apparently has a mandatory 2-year warranty that encapsulates Apple products, yes?

I do not believe that the 1-year that Apple provides in US is required by law here. I suspect Apple could cut this down to 3 months if they felt like it (the only concern would be consumer backlash)

Therefore, in this particular case, Europe clearly has stronger consumer protection laws -- but I was wrong to generalize to other cases.

Re:Obligated (1)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about 2 years ago | (#42589521)

"Any company that is not obligated to act for it's customers will eventually be obliged to close it's doors."

bollocks.

this is one of these false truisms like "everybody gets what's coming in the end." it's wishful thinking at its finest--just ask the victims of jimmy saville. it's also incredibly generic, as "act for its customers" can be interpreted in dozens of weasely ways. does ryanair, the most profitable airline in the world, "act for its customers?"

the reality is that the ONLY way that companies make a profit is by exploiting what is known as "market power." the more market power you have,the higher your profits, and the more you are explicitly NOT being as "nice" to customers as you could be.

How many European countries will it take (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589031)

Before Apple does what it should have done from the start and changes its warranty document to mention 2 years as required by European law?

For example, the court in Brussels could reasonably decide that Apple has been made aware of the European warranty requirements after the court decision in Italy and that its more recent neglect in updating its documentation is a willful violation of what it is required to do by law in Europe and thus the penalties will be somewhat more harsh.

Re:Obligated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589235)

I hardly think that Apple was obliged to change anything. Probably obligated, but not obliged.

Look up "obliged" in a dictionary.
You'll find that obliged and obligated are mostly interchangeable.
The summary's usage is no longer terribly common, but it is still perfectly valid.

Re:Obligated (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589385)

The two words are synonyms:

obligate (verb): Bind or compel (someone), esp. legally or morally.

oblige (verb): Make (someone) legally or morally bound to an action or course of action.

Re:Obligated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589763)

"Obligate" is an illiterate back-construction from "obligation", used by people who are unaware of the word "oblige".

My dad once purchased Apple Care (5, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | about 2 years ago | (#42588895)

for his iPad. Kept it in a heavy duty switcheasy cover and everything. One day, in front of my eyes, he opened the cover, set the iPad sideways down on the inside of the cover's padded surface, and a huge crack occured, running the length of the screen. Luckily it was only on the black bezel, so it didn't impact use at first after putting duct tape over it to protect the fingers.

The entire machine was mint, no scratches, no dings on the side, since it was in a case in it's entire life, the crack itself was some long weird trench that imploded. It was apparent that it wasn't some outside force, no center impact spot nor spiderwebbing outwards.

Even with Apple Care, Apple wouldn't replace it other than to say it would cost $250 to replace it with same model. Which is kinda ridiculous. The screen worked, it was just the digitizer that I found out later costs $60 on iFixit.

Applecare may have been worth it for past notebooks but not anything else. Most other venders extended warranties attempt to provide some value for the money. The current line of notebooks in the office seem solid, back in the mid-00s, it seemed some Powerbook would blow their motherboard every so often, and some 2-3 times in a row.

Re:My dad once purchased Apple Care (1, Informative)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#42589007)

Apple Care is extended warranty, and is not insurance. I doubt you would get a replacement for notebook either.

Re:My dad once purchased Apple Care (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589211)

A warranty covers defects, and Applecare explicitly says that this covers "Defects arising after customer takes delivery [apple.com] " (contrast with statutory warranties which usually only cover inherent defects - not that I'm saying this isn't an inherent defect, my point is that Applecare you shouldn't even have to argue whether or not it's inherent as it should be covered either way).

Unless you're accusing the grandparent's dad of secretly neglecting his iPad, this is clearly a defect.

Re:My dad once purchased Apple Care (4, Insightful)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#42589213)

Apple Care is extended warranty, and is not insurance.

That's the entire point of his post.

It all depends on whether you believe the crack was caused by a manufacturing defect or improper/accidental user behavior. In his case, he clearly believes it was a manufacturing defect. Of course, you can choose not to believe him if you want, that's your call.

I doubt you would get a replacement for notebook either.

That's a strawman. He was asking for the device to be fixed, not be replaced (which according to him at least, could have been easily done).

Besides, an extended warranty doesn't just extend the default limitation of a standard manufacturer warranty, but it's supposed to dictate more advantageous terms than a standard existing warranty (even when a defect is found only within the standard warranty period).

So if one is to truly believe that this was caused by a manufacturing defect, and not user behavior, it wouldn't be unusual to expect better warranty service when one has purposefully purchased better warranty service in the first place.

Re:My dad once purchased Apple Care (2)

mysidia (191772) | about 2 years ago | (#42589019)

Even with Apple Care, Apple wouldn't replace it other than to say it would cost $250 to replace it with same model. Which is kinda ridiculous. The screen worked, it was just the digitizer that I found out later costs $60 on iFixit.

Sure sounds like cause for a small claims suit against apple due to failure to provide repair or replacement to address a defect of a product under warranty.

Re:My dad once purchased Apple Care (1)

Sheik Yerbouty (2803119) | about 2 years ago | (#42589215)

My n=1 has been a pretty good one. Never paid a dime during waranty (AppleCare). They never asked questions to what happend with it. They either repaired it (MacBook Pro, iMac) or replaced it (2 year old battery) for free.

Re:My dad once purchased Apple Care (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 2 years ago | (#42590143)

Left IO-board of my Macbook Pro was claimed to be broken.

I still haven't bought any and it was such a waste on a good laptop.

Anyway, the thing is if you google for left io board for a macbook pro the ones you find are for my model. .. so.. Yeah :) (Shouldn't that be a manufacturing fault? Imho the freaking cable to the magsafe connector is a manufacturing fault because it can't handle use.)

Same in Australia (5, Interesting)

SirAdelaide (1432553) | about 2 years ago | (#42588955)

Apple still tries these tactics in Australia, even two years after being brought to public attention. In Australia, if a product isn't fit for purpose, you can return it to the store it was bought from, regardless of what Apple try to tell you. This is one small part of the reason for the 'Australia Tax', the other parts being inexplicable.

See http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2011/01/apple-stores-warranty-approach-contradicts-australian-consumer-law/ [lifehacker.com.au] for more detail.

Re:Same in Australia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42588985)

I really have to wonder how that works when a generic product isn't fit for any particular purpose (think Microsoft software licenses).

Re:Same in Australia (2)

delt0r (999393) | about 2 years ago | (#42589641)

New Zealand has the same kinda of rules. I purchased a game that did not run on my machine at all despite being above the minimum required on the box. The shop of course said that there are no returns once the package is open. Sorry but that is *not* the law, its what they want you to believe. I did get my money back when i pointed out the law, and also reminded them that i can in fact get legal aid for such matters in NZ for free.

The game was unplayable on hardware it claimed to be playable on. That is not fit for its intended purpose. Note in NZ they can replace the item or refund at their discretion, and you can't claim "damages" caused by the fault.

Re:Same in Australia (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#42590187)

you can't claim "damages" caused by the fault.

Really? It sounds like NZ law is fairly similar to UK law, where goods must also be "fit for purpose". In that case you can claim compensation if you suffered some loss as a result of them not being fit for the intended purpose, such as if some freestanding shelves that claim to support 100kg collapse and damage 95kg of your stuff.

It is really quite interesting how much you can punish companies for messing you about, lying or simply failing to deliver what they promised. For example if you arrange delivery at a particular time and they don't show you can then claim compensation for any extra time off work you need to take for the re-delivery.

Re:Same in Australia (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#42589323)

Apple still tries these tactics in Australia, even two years after being brought to public attention. In Australia, if a product isn't fit for purpose, you can return it to the store it was bought from, regardless of what Apple try to tell you. This is one small part of the reason for the 'Australia Tax', the other parts being inexplicable.

See
http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2011/01/apple-stores-warranty-approach-contradicts-australian-consumer-law/ [lifehacker.com.au]
for more detail.

Phones are even more of a special case in Australia. For other products the wording of the law is that if you paid a substantial amount of money for something and it breaks before the expected lifespan you can expect replacement from the supplier or manufacturer (can't remember which, the supplier I think). For phones, if you are under contract then the phone is considered under warranty and the phone company is responsible for it.

I'd hoped this would reduce the amount of crap on the market - a store might not stock a crappy brand of TV if they knew they would be stuck with the warranty. It doesn't seem to have turned out that way though.

Re:Same in Australia (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#42589383)

Warranties are handled by the supplier via the Australian distributor. The store has little to do with it. They are in fact in the right not to handle your warranty at all and can simply direct you to the manufacturer. It doesn't cost the store anything (if they are bastards) or very little (if they have good customer service and handle things like warranties) to replace a very cheap TV.

Re:Same in Australia (1)

sd4f (1891894) | about 2 years ago | (#42589681)

But the warranty laws in Australia compel the shop to handle the warranty, you are meant to take it back to the place of purchase. For most electronic goods, the retailer really can't do anything, so that's why they have manufacturers warranty, that's all arranged outside what the law allows, but no one worries, because a defective product gets fixed and the customer should be satisfied. The law also allows some reasonable leniency with entry level gear, as it does examine that in "fit for purpose" you buy premium goods, you should expect premium performance, but buy bottom rung, you should expect performance which isn't as good.

Fit for purpose also means that one could also chase up products which are defective by design, not just a production anomaly. One could argue that if something is unreasonably fragile.

Re:Same in Australia (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42589481)

In Australia, if a product isn't fit for purpose, you can return it to the store it was bought from, regardless of what Apple try to tell you.

In California, you can return a defective product to _any outlet which sells it_ any time during the warranty period. Needless to say, some retailers are not too happy about this concept. Some of them cheat brutally to get around it. For example, Sears changes their model numbers every year so that they technically don't have the same product.

And apple still wins out probably (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42588995)

And Apple will still have benefited from the whole thing if they keep getting only a small fines like the € 900,000.
At about 1205000, assuming say a lowball 100 bucks in average repair costs (parts and labor for Apple), that only equals about the cost of 12000 devices. Surely, there was more returns then that meaning they actually saved money. Add in getting extra money for their AppleCare and really, is there any reason why not to break the law when they come out on top even if caught?

EU and US price differences... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#42589015)

All Apple has to do is build in the price of AppleCare into every new purchase. That's all. Like everyone else who sells stuff in the EU - the extended warranty price is built into the price EU customers pay. Just like sales taxes and other stuff needed to comply. It just becomes another reason why US prices are "lower" than EU prices.

Though, there is a *slight* difference between AppleCare and just a bog-standard warranty - since AppleCare offers support as well (you get 90 days of phone support standard, it extends to the full AppleCare period if you buy it).

Perhaps Apple will just offer an "AppleCare lite" for the EU that extends support and all that extra stuff it gives other than a warranty.

Though, the easiest way though is to just scrap AppleCare in the EU, and say all Apple products sold in the EU come with a standard 2 year AppleCare built in and adjust the prices accordingly. Or if the law says 3 years, then the 3 year AppleCare price gets built in. Or 5 years, or whatever.

Would there be any reasonable reason otherwise? I mean, instead of trying to convince probably 10% of people to buy it, just build it in so 100% of people get it and comply with the law at the same time.

Re:EU and US price differences... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589097)

They already do this. A USD 2199 macbook is a EUR 2199 macbook. But the question is why Apple should be allowed to sell hightech junk which needs repair within two years. Hardly value for money.

Re:EU and US price differences... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589199)

What the hell are you talking about? The EU/US price difference doesn't come from this. It's because none of these things are assembled or manufactured here, everything is imported. Which means shipping and import taxes. All which, Americans for instance, pay when they want a BMW.

Re:EU and US price differences... (4, Informative)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#42589273)

"What the hell are you talking about? The EU/US price difference doesn't come from this. It's because none of these things are assembled or manufactured here, everything is imported."

What the hell are you talking about? It is long ago that prices are unrelated to costs but to whatever the buyer is wanting to pay.

Re:EU and US price differences... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589537)

What the hell ar you talking about? All iPhone/iPad/i... gear is produced in CHINA (read my lips).

A BMW on the other hand is indeed made mostly in Germany (although some models are made in the US in Spartanburg, nl. X5, Z3 Z3 Coupé).

The price difference is a question of pricing and taxes (as allways).

So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

sl3xd (111641) | about 2 years ago | (#42589017)

A summary that merely states that Apple has a warranty, and that Apple is misleading customers.

OK, fine, but... how is Apple misleading customers? Neither the summary, nor the linked article give any clue.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589041)

AFAIK EU and Belgian law already mandate certain warrantees regardless of wether you buy AppleCare or not, and Apple is accused of portraying certain warrantees to only apply if you do buy AppleCare.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589045)

Two year warranty presented as an extension. Two year warranty is required by European law. I'm sure that's probably just a start.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 2 years ago | (#42589269)

Two year warranty presented as an extension. Two year warranty is required by European law. I'm sure that's probably just a start.

And what you say is nonsense. You are confusing warranty and statutory rights. Any _manufacturer_ is free to give you any manufacturer's warranty that they like under any terms they like. Any _seller_ where you buy an item is responsible that the item is of sufficient quality. Calling that 'warranty' is quite misleading.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589431)

You don't live in the EU, do you?

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42590167)

You don't live in the EU, do you?

I do, and I agree with what he said. See here for example: http://www.consumenteninformatiepunt.nl/page/en/themes/Kopen-in-de-EU
(the text is in English). The two-year statutory warranty requires that the seller, not the manufacturer, repair any deficiency present at the time the item was bought. If a fault becomes apparent within the first six months, it is assumed to have been present in the beginning.

This is completely separate from any manufacturer's warranty. What the EU is criticizing is that Apple supposedly makes it sound as if you needed the extended warranty for cases that are covered under the statutory warranty. I have no idea whether or not it's true, but in my eyes it's a ridiculous law-suit.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (4, Informative)

Psilax (1297141) | about 2 years ago | (#42589057)

In Europe there is a consumer law that demands that the sales person of a electronics device is required to give 2 years guarantee for free. So what our consumer-organisation is suing for is that apple only give 1 year and sells the other year for a profit while this should be free. (Or roughly something like that) But off course this will not make a lot of difference since 1million euros is hardly a dent in Apple profits around here since a couple of schools are starting to make iPad a basic necessity for education and others are looking at them as an example instead of going for the open-source android communities.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589117)

In Europe there is a consumer law that demands that the sales person of a electronics device is required to give 2 years guarantee for free.

Despite what the law may imply, the 2-year guarantee is not free. The company selling the product still has to pay to provide warranty service, and that cost will be included in the price of the product.

Yet another example of a law taking away your opportunity. Both for the customer and the producer.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

Psilax (1297141) | about 2 years ago | (#42589245)

I don't see the loss for us as consumers in this.
The consumer has more opportunities when buying expensive stuff and it gets broken.
(And yes for us as belgians products are more expensive then in our surrounding countries)

And I don't see a loss of opportunity for producers either since it is the seller that pays for the guarantee and the producer only has to make sure it has a good image.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (4, Insightful)

turbidostato (878842) | about 2 years ago | (#42589283)

espite what the law may imply, the 2-year guarantee is not "free."

The law doesn't imply 2-year warantee should come for free but that must be included in the front price of the product.

"Yet another example of a law taking away your opportunity."

There's a non fair bargaining position on the seller: we knows perfectly what the innards of the product he is selling are, but the seller can't. This way the buyer is protected knowing there's a minimal quality all products needs to abide to. It leverages the playing field for all vendors, hardly a way of taking away oportunities, except for oportunities to abuse the buyer, of course.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589589)

hardly a way of taking away oportunities, except for oportunities to abuse the buyer, of course

Well, it is Apple we're talking about, isn't it?

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 2 years ago | (#42589515)

the 2-year guarantee is not free. The company selling the product still has to pay to provide warranty service, and that cost will be included in the price of the product

Certainly true. But Apple may not want to extend much the already high price gap between their products and the competition - especially for tablets and phones. For the record, many electronic shops in France (eg FNAC) do not care at all about this 2-year warranty law when selling less known laptop brands, for instance. And nobody complains (besides me :-)

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

delt0r (999393) | about 2 years ago | (#42589649)

You should see what the new eWaste laws are like then!

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (3, Interesting)

GNious (953874) | about 2 years ago | (#42589183)

[...] since a couple of schools are starting to make iPad a basic necessity for education and others are looking at them as an example instead of going for the open-source android communities.

Not to mention the income from fixing 15% of the school iPads every year: http://www.dr.dk/Nyheder/Viden/Teknologi/2013/01/Crashtest_af_ipads_soroe.htm [www.dr.dk] ..or when kids end up spending 2000 euros on stuff "by accident": http://www.dr.dk/P4/Aarhus/Nyheder/Odder/2012/02/02/02134329.htm [www.dr.dk]
  (Danish links - use google trans)

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 2 years ago | (#42589487)

It's not about the â900,000. The judgement stated that Apple needs to bring their warranty in line with EU Law. If they fail, I wouldn't be surprised if there are significant repercussions (Import / trade ban until it's sorted, for instance).

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 2 years ago | (#42590093)

It's not about the Ã900,000. The judgement stated that Apple needs to bring their warranty in line with EU Law. If they fail, I wouldn't be surprised if there are significant repercussions (Import / trade ban until it's sorted, for instance).

Apple didn't have to change their manufacturer warranty at all. The consequence of all this is apparently that Apple is going to stop offering Apple Care in Italy. I'll try to explain what _actually_ happened, in case some slashdotters have the brain power to understand it:

The manufacturer can offer any warranty they like. The seller has to fix faults under certain conditions for a certain amount of time. A manufacturer or a store can also offer to sell an extended warranty. Now when you buy extended warranty, and the warranty promises "we will do A, B, and C for you", the customer doesn't actually pay for A, B and C. They pay for A, B, and C, minus whatever rights they had anyway. And that is what the Italian complaint was about: When Apple sells Apple Care, they need to tell the buyer what they are exactly buying, and that means informing them about any rights that are part of Apple Care, but that the customer would have had without buying Apple Care.

Note that the only people that Apple has to inform are those buying Apple Care, because when selling Apple Care, Apple has to accurately describe what the customer is getting. In all other cases, the onus is on the customer to inform himself about their laws.

And interestingly, Dell is offering extended warranties, and they don't mention _anywhere_ on their Italian or any other website that the customer would have other rights, and neither Italian courts nor anyone on slashdot complains. (Again, they don't have to mention it when you buy a computer. They should mention it when selling extended warranties).

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#42589153)

how is Apple misleading customers?

Probably the same way they were in the UK [wired.co.uk] and Italy. [bbc.co.uk] Apple was using false and misleading advertising to sell unnecessary "AppleCare" coverage when EU law required a 2-year warranty built into the price of the product.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#42589415)

Apple Care isn't just an extended warranty. It includes tech support.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589575)

And tech support is included in the mandatory 2 years.

Who do you think fixes the broken stuff when you bring it in under warranty? You give it to the cashier, she opens the pad and starts soldering things in/out?

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 2 years ago | (#42589583)

That's not what tech support is.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589999)

What is tech support ? I'm not familiar with that legal term.
If the product's advertised functionality is impaired, the warranty kicks in. Apple is mandated to offer free repair or substitution minus shipment. Software functionality is no different than hardware functionality.

Re:So what is Apple actually accused of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589577)

the problem is more that they were denying the legally mandated warranty and selling apple care as if it were an extended warranty. The EU does indeed have a 2 year warranty on electrical devices, however this has never been implemented in UK law - it doesn't need to be. The Sale Of Goods Act already grants longer - iirc it words it as a "reasonable time" (which the courts in England interpret as up to 6 years, or 5 years in Scotland - we have different and independent legal systems) if I spent £659 on an ipad I'd expect it to last at least 5 years.

The key here is that your warranty is with the seller, not the manufacturer - as that is who you have a contract with. If you bought from the apple website then they're one and the same, but if you bought from currys/dixons then you need to take the item back to them, they often try to fob you off by telling you to use the manufacturers warranty - tell them to STFU and meet their contractual obligations and deal with the manufacturer for you - like the law says.

If you live in the UK you really should read The Sale Of Goods Act (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/54) and Supply of Goods and Services Act (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1982/29) so that you know your rights - often a good idea to carry a PDF copy on your phone - I keep meaning to right an app but I'm lazy.

YOU FAIL IT!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589021)

populaTion aNs well

Apple does not respect only warranty laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589109)

Far more importantly; I feel they do not respect:

1. Environmental laws
2. Fair use doctrine on copyright laws
3. The spirit of the patent laws
4. Competing in the markets instead of crushing competition in the courts law
etc.

Those laws are more valuable to prospective buyers. Warranty laws affect only those who have already been suckered into buying Apple's products. Thankfully, even though large, they are still a microscopic minority compared to the rest of us.

Gender-equality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589387)

This is the same group of bright sparks that has forced insurers to charge the same premiums for males and females for all types of insurance (motor, life, pension, etc), despite clear statistical evidence to the contrary, which ultimately leads to higher prices for everybody in the EU who buys insurance (as it is then not possible to actually price for the actual underlying risk, so insurers take higher margins to compensate). However right or wrong they may be in the Apple case, Test-Achats has not shown overwhelming evidence of intelligence in the past, but large doses of dogmatism instead.

Re:Gender-equality (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#42589639)

I think you forget what insurance is.

If everyone pays insurance by the risk that they personally pose, we all just end up paying for our own costs. Thus, "insurance" in that sense becomes just a middle-man who takes a percentage of what we have to pay anyway.

Insurance is intended to cover lots of people because the 1% who actually have an accident that month are covered by the 99% who didn't but still paid a (small) premium anyway.

The problem is not the equality, but the way the insurance companies DO NOT PASS those savings on to customers (i.e. if they have 50% male and 50% female drivers, say, the female drivers will pay and subsidise the males and, by comparison, the males pay the same but have more accidents so get a better deal). The question is really why does a bad woman driver get a better insurance than a good male driver when everything is recorded and added up? That's the problem that was solved by the equality legislation, and the insurer's profiteering from it is the INSURER'S being arseholes.

Any "insurance" where you end up paying more than others isn't insurance (US medical insurance is another example - if I have to pay more because I have condition X, then why would I pay it to an insurance company when I could just put it in a bank and pay it direct? Hence most people who need insurance, don't have it, which ruins the point of medical insurance - it just becomes easy-money for the insurer's because the high-risk pay their own bills, effectively, and the low-risk pay every month for nothing).

It's just red-tape around paying what you owe anyway. And most modern "insurance" is exactly like that. If we ALL paid flood insurance, it would cost us 2p each a year. If only those who live in flood plains pay it, they might as well just put it in the bank and pay costs of each flood as it happens because it's only the high-risk people who are subsidising the majority of the insurance anyway. Some countries have blanket car insurance, because of this - every driver pays exactly the same and is insured to the same level. They can buy MORE insurance if they want, but everyone benefits from the basic insurance and pays less than they otherwise would.

And then people wonder why there are areas of London, say, where you cannot get insurance for your car because NOBODY there has insurance (Tottenham was in the news just last year for this - it's so hard to get insurance, because nobody else has it in the local area and it costs the insurer's money to pursue them when there's an accident, that nobody has insurance - something like 40% of drivers registered to Tottenham addresses are uninsured!).

Insurance isn't about "you cost me more, so I charge you more". Insurance is a blanket cover that covers the total costs of everyone it insures, paid for by everyone contributing an equal amount. Anything else is red-tape and bullshit. Notice, then, that car insurance rising because women have the pay the same as men now (i.e. closer to "real" insurance), is red-tape and bullshit and not related to the legislation at all.

Just wait for the trials about age discrimination on the same thing - why should someone get discriminated against because they are 20 with 10 years of driving experience, compared to someone who is 50 with 5 years of driving experience? And then they'll be a trial about where-you-live not being good enough to judge your insurance risk (especially if you drive around the country a lot), etc. etc. etc. and we'll slowly creep our way back to "proper" insurance.

Re:Gender-equality (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | about 2 years ago | (#42589979)

Over here in the US, there is no equality in insurance. For example, there are different rates for men/women and young/old based on historical evidence. But if a bad woman drive has a few accidents, her rates are going to explode. Not sure where you're getting your medical insurance info from, but my wife who has diabetes pays the same amount as her healthy coworkers. And in the US you don't have to buy flood insurance. The thing is, if you pay your $5/month for flood, and you house is destroyed, the federal government comes in and pays the few $100k to fix you up, garnered from the whole country's tax dollars, so essentially everyone ends up paying for the flood insurance. If you don't buy it, and get wiped out, I hope you have stashed that few $100k in the bank, rather than paying $600 over 10 years for insurance.

You have not the slightest idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42590039)

You have not the slightest idea of the concept of insurance but yet you try to explain it.
Insurance is not a social safety net. Insurance is based on personal risk.
Forcing people who are not living on flood plains to buy flood insurance so the premiums of those people living in risky areas has nothing to do with the concept of insurance. It's a subsidy for taking flood risk.

Why don't you at least look up Wikipedia. You and the people who modded this Insightful.

WE DON' T HAVE TO CARE !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42589669)

We're <del>the telephone company</del> Apple !!

(Snort)

I'm confused (2)

CodeheadUK (2717911) | about 2 years ago | (#42589707)

Apple fans always bang on about how Apple stores go the extra mile to fix problems and replace broken products. Customer care is always pushed as a big plus and one of the justifications for the 'premium' cost of the products.

Are they lying? Or have the courts got it wrong?

Apple :( (1)

hocamnet (2815979) | about 2 years ago | (#42589811)

An unexpected move from apple..

Sue the Americans (-1, Flamebait)

PacRim Jim (812876) | about 2 years ago | (#42589825)

American companies are seen as cash cows in Europe. Microsoft, Google, and others have been subjected to sundry relatively frivolous suits, merely to extract cash from them. The companies must not have bribed the right Europeans.

Re:Sue the Americans (2)

ACluk90 (2618091) | about 2 years ago | (#42589965)

No, American companies are too ignorant to respect the local laws. If they sell millions of devices they are 'reminded' by a court ruling with a ridiculously small fine (given the extent of the infringement) and get a chance to correct their behaviour. Often they fail to do so and end up paying huge fines.

On the other side, American companies see the Europeans as cash cows. What costs 500USD in the US often costs 500EUR=670USD in the Euro zone and often comes to the market later.

It's a bloody press release! (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 2 years ago | (#42590045)

This article is not based on any court papers that this Belgian consumer organization filed, but just on a press release! Since it is just a press release, they can add all the fluffy bits, like confusing "warranty" and "statutory rights", calling a case in Italy "precedent" when it is no such thing, and so on.

And of course there will be tons of complaints about Apple's handling of warranties, because any bloody idiot dropping his iPhone into the toilet wants a free replacement from Apple and complains when they don't get one. (And insurers have found that the number of "accidentally" damaged iPhones more than doubles when a new model is released)

Know Your Implied Statutory Warranty Rights (3, Informative)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about 2 years ago | (#42590147)

In some countries (your mileage may vary) there is an implied statutory warranty that the product will operate properly for the reasonable lifetime of the product. This is ADDITIONAL TO the express manufacturer's warranty. It doesn't cover wear and tear and obviously doesn't cover abuse either, but does mean the product must function properly and do what it is supposed to do. If it doesn't, you are entitled to a remedy: a refund, replacement, etc., to be mutually agreed between you and the seller.

Most consumers are ignorant of their statutory warranty rights, so when a manufacturer provides a 12 month warranty consumers think if it breaks a day after that they aren't covered. Not true, though they may have to approach the manufacturer directly instead of the retailer. Another is that when a manufacturer advertises "a lifetime warranty" you already have one by law anyway, so they are only telling you what they have to give you anyway. And finally it means that Extended Warranties are usually a complete waste of money: They are getting you to pay for a right you already have by law anyway.

Again, your mileage may vary. Talk to your local consumer affairs bureau to find your local rules. Be warned that retailers can be real pricks about warranties , and sometimes consumer affairs will need to come in with a baseball bat and remind them if your statutory rights. Manufacturers would prefer it if you didn't know any of this. Also sometimes a manufacturer will insist you pay for return shipping or drop off at your own expense. Check your local laws: they might be obliged to pick up the cost or do this for you.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Commercial_Code [wikipedia.org] Implied Warranties US
http://www.apple.com/au/legal/statutory-warranty/ [apple.com] Statutory Warranties AU
http://www.dtvforum.info/index.php?showtopic=84941 [dtvforum.info] Statutory Warranties AU
http://www.consumerlaw.gov.au/content/the_acl/downloads/consumer_guarantees_guide.pdf [consumerlaw.gov.au] Most Recent Laws AU
http://au.news.yahoo.com/today-tonight/consumer/article/-/9803967/worthless-warranties/ [yahoo.com] Extended Warranty


One bonus tip for reading this far: Merchants often trick people into accepting warranties with clauses waiving your statutory rights, no returns signs and the like. It often works by dissuading from trying, but if it goes to a small claims court the judge will draw a big line through them.
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