Belgium watchdogs: Apple is 'deaf to demands' over consumer rights

A Belgian consumer group has decided enough is enough, and plans to see Apple in court over consumer rights.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
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Accusing Apple of a 'misleading' and 'illegal' AppleCare warranty policies, a Belgian consumer rights group will be taking the tech giant to court.

The Cupertino,. Calif. firm has come under fire after allegations were made that AppleCare, Apple's warranty system for products including the iPad and iPhone, does not conform to European law. As a result, Belgian consumer watchdog Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats has filed a complaint against the company (Dutch).

European consumer law states that within the European Union, two years' warranty must be provided for products free of charge. However, for customers elsewhere, AppleCare has to be paid for after the first year -- and questions have been raised over whether Apple's marketing and contractual practices are an attempt to mislead consumers who do not realize this entitlement.

Apple has got itself into trouble previously, after business methods were employed which potentially kept European consumers in the dark over the EU's warranty regulations. The firm was fined $1.2 million by an Italian antitrust watchdog in 2011 after the group ruled that Apple had failed to properly inform its customers of their rights, a judgement Apple later appealed and lost.

Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats says within the filing that "major problems" have been found in the information Apple provides to its Belgian customers, and the lucrative "AppleCare Protection Plan" extension of two or three years goes against the legal guarantee that European law is meant to enforce.

This is not the first time the Belgian group have taken Apple to task. In March last year, the consumer watchdog joined forces with 10 European consumer organizations to complain about Apple's practices, but says that the firm remained "deaf to demands," which has rendered the court case necessary.

Test-Aankoop/Test-Achats says it is confident of a positive outcome of the case, which will be brought before the President of the Commercial Court of Brussels.

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