Apple 'extends' European warranties: Complaints already flood in

Summary:Apple has modified its warranty policy after being fined $1.2 million by Italian authorities for "misleading" customers. But what's changed, and why are many still angry?

In light of heavy criticism and an Italian lawsuit in which Apple was told it breaches European law over the warranties it services, the maker of shiny rectangles has modified its policies to include warranties for two-years, rather than just one.

Apple silently flipped the switch on a new policy that seemingly throws in an additional year to its standard warranty in line with Europe's two-year warranty law.

Despite EU law, Apple gave customers only one year of warranty. If you wanted another year, you would have to shell out for an AppleCare plan. Italy found that Apple was wrong, and finedthe company €900,000 ($1.2m) for "misleading" customers.

"When you purchase Apple products, European Union consumer law provides statutory warranty rights in addition to the coverage you receive from the Apple One-Year Limited Warranty and the optional AppleCare Protection Plan," Apple says on its European websites.

Even items that are sold but not Apple-branded are eligible for the two-year warranty.

But it doesn't change much. Just because Apple says so means nothing. EU customers already had this statutory right. Apple could, however, refuse to repair or replace a product bought from it if customers did not own a costly AppleCare plan.

But criticism has already fed online forums and news sites over the lack of clarity the policy gives.

While European consumer law says a repair or replacement can be given if "defects present when customer takes delivery", while Apple's limited warranty and AppleCare plan says when "defects present after customer takes delivery".

While it may seem like one word is changing, that one word means the difference between "defects in manufacturing" to "it's the user's fault". You rarely find problems with devices after you open the box. It's a few hours, days or weeks down the line when faults and problems emerge if there ever are any.

This seems contrary to EU case law which assumed defects within the first two-years are as a result of the manufacturing process, rather than it being the customers' fault.

Apple did not respond to questions at the time of writing.

Image source: Apple. Article source: Google+.

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Topics: Apple

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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