Apple busted for dubious Applecare selling

Apple has been fined more than a million dollars in Italy for misleading customers about their warranty rights.

Italian law says customers are legally entitled to a free two-year warranty and technical support on electronic goods. However, Apple staff kept quiet about this when selling to customers, instead detailing Apple’s standard one-year warranty and then encouraging them to take out Applecare, an extended warranty. They didn’t inform customers that the first year of Applecare would overlap with the second year of the statutory warranty period.

Italy’s Antitrust Authority fined Apple’s Italian subsidiaries a total of 900,000 euros (US$1.2 million): 400,000 euros for failing to provide the full two-year warranty as standard, and a further 500,000 euros for selling Applecare in a misleading manner. The 400,000 euro fine was slightly lower to recognize that Apple has taken steps to better highlight the statutory rights since coming under investigation.

The company must publish details of the ruling on its website and now has 90 days to revise the literature for Applecare to make clear that customers automatically get two-years coverage without charge.

Apple hasn’t yet commented on the ruling, or whether it will change the time at which Applecare kicks in for the Italian market.

Another Italian electronics retailer, Comet, escaped fines over similar breaches. The Antitrust Authority noted that Comet had begun fully informing customers of the two-year warranty before it began formal proceedings and simply ruled that Comet be bound to stick to this change of policy.