EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called for closer monitoring of Apple's retail practices on Tuesday, citing concerns over the company's ongoing failure to inform consumers about their warranty rights. Under EU law, companies are required to provide a minimum warranty of two years, but Apple often only advertises support for one year. The European Commission has received complaints from 11 countries over the company providing incorrect warranty information.
"In at least 21 EU countries Apple is not informing consumers correctly about the legal warranty rights they have," Reding said. "This is simply not good enough." She noted that laws ought to be enforced evenly across the EU member states but efforts on the warranty issue have been "very diversified and inconsistent" between nations.
For example, she wrote to the consumer ministers of every EU country last September calling for other nations to act on the problem. Only 15 out of 27 member states replied, even though Italy had just gotten the ball rolling by fining Apple €900,000 for misleading consumers about their warranty rights and pushing them to buy AppleCare as a premium service on top of their device purchase.
Apparently, the misleading information has been removed from Apple's sites for Finland and Hungary, and we assume things are square in Italy after the fine, but issues remain across most of the other countries. For instance, we just checked Apple's French online store and it advertises a one-year limited warranty on the specifications tab of a new MacBook Air, and it promotes the AppleCare Protection Plan in the next sentence.
"This case and the responses I received since I sent my letter have highlighted rather clearly just why the Commission cannot sit on the sidelines on enforcement issues," Reding said. "The Commission has to take a more prominent role in monitoring and coordinating coherent enforcement of EU consumer rules by the member states."
Similar concerns have surfaced recently in Australia, where Apple has been forced to increase its minimum warranty from one to two years, but the company is accused of encouraging employees to avoid the subject of warranties, particularly about the company now being required to provide two years worth of coverage.