Apple fined $2 million in Brazil over iPhones without chargers and anti-consumer practices

Consumer rights foundation Procon-SP accused the company of several practices that violate the Brazilian consumer protection code.
Written by Angelica Mari, Contributing Writer

São Paulo state consumer rights foundation Procon-SP has fined the Cupertino firm 10,5 million reais (US$ 1.9 million) for not selling the power charger adapter with its new smartphones.

According to the consumer rights body, this is an abusive practice, since the item is essential for the functioning of the item. This follows complaints filed by consumers since the company confirmed the new policy to remove the charger from the iPhone's packaging, in October last year. At the time, the firm justified the move as an attempt to reduce its carbon emissions and rare earth mining.

The Brazilian consumer rights foundation also noted that several questions made to the company remain unanswered, including the price of devices with and without the charger, and information on the reduction of the number of chargers manufactured since the policy was introduced.

"Apple needs to understand that in Brazil there are solid consumer protection laws and institutions and respect them", according to the executive director of Procon-SP, Fernando Capez.

Moreover, the company is being accused of several practices that violate the Brazilian consumer protection code. These include failure to fix iPhones bought outside Brazil within 30 days from the date of purchase, and misleading publicity around the iPhone 11 Pro, which is advertised as being water-resistant after several Brazilian consumers had trouble repairing the devices.

According to Apple's answer to Procon on the point of water resistance, the feature is not a permanent condition of the device and could decrease over time. The firm added that to avoid damage caused by liquids, consumers "should stop swimming or showering with the smartphone and use it in conditions of extreme humidity."

However, the foundation noted the publicity of that particular model included statements such as: "rigorous testing and refinements helped to create a durable iPhone that is resistant to water and dust", as well as "water-resistant to 4 meters for up to 30 seconds", "made to take splashes and even a bath". Procon also noted publicity included images of the smartphone receiving jets of water and being used in the rain.

In addition, Procon noted it analyzed the warranty term of the Apple products and verified the company imposes some "unfair terms": this includes a clause where the company states it is exempt from all legal and implicit guarantees and against hidden or not apparent defects. According to the consumer rights body, the company is avoiding liability for problems with the products and services it provides, thus violating the Brazilian consumer protection code.

In another clause, the company states that may request authorization to charge a credit card for the value of the product or replacement part and shipping costs. Procon argued that this practice transfers the risk of the activity and cost of complying with the terms of the warranty, offending the principle of good faith, balance, and vulnerability of consumers and putting them at "an exaggerated disadvantage."

Contacted by ZDNet, an Apple representative said the company would not comment on the announcement from the Brazilian consumer rights body. The manufacturer can appeal if it continues to disagree with the decision.

Editorial standards