Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Everyone wants a bite of Apple

Yesterday the European Consumer Organisation BEUC published a press release concerning unfair commercial practices conducted by Apple as far as the product guarantees that they issue are concerned. BEUC calls for an immediate stop to these misleading practices (Consumer organisations across EU call on Apple to stop misleading practices on product guarantees).

In December 2011 Apple was fined 900.000 Euro by the Italian Competition Authority. It was proven that Apple prominently advertised that its products come with a one year manufacturer warranty, without clearly indicating consumers' automatic and free-of-cost entitlement to a minimum 2-year guarantee under EU law (unfair commercial practice no. 1). Moreover, objections were made as to the way its 'AppleCare Protection Plan' warranty extension was presented and sold to consumers. Apple appealed from this decision, so the final verdict has not been given yet. However, in the meantime, many consumer groups in other Member States (Belgium, Portugal, Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Spain, Slovenia and Greece) received complaints from their consumers about similar practices of Apple. Therefore, Apple is being called upon to stop with these practices.

What's the problem? Consumers are given certain guarantees by EU law as to what they may expect of their product, e.g., how long it should work, not need a repair, etc. Some sellers and producers choose not to mention these free, obligatory guarantees and instead present an option to 'consumers' to buy a guarantee from them (at a special price, of course). Consumers may be confused, not known that they are entitled to such guarantees to begin with and decide to purchase a commercial guarantee of the seller/producer, e.g., Apple. This is a clear example of a misleading commercial practice.

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