Good news for Apple hardware enthusiasts based in Belgium. The company has updated one of its policy documents following this year’s WWDC conference so that all consumers now have a two year guarantee when buying products through the online Apple Store.
The move is compliant with existing EU law which requires all companies to give buyers at least two years of protection on all consumer electronics, including all iPhone, iPad, iPod and Apple TV devices.
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Apple has been criticized in the past for offering only a single year of warranty as standard. To extend this further, consumers were previously required to purchase an AppleCare Protection Plan or AppleCare+.
Apple Nieuws Vlaanderen spotted the update, which now reads (through Google Translate):
All products purchased from Apple, including non-Apple products, are covered by the statutory warranty of two years from the seller to deliver goods which is consistent with the agreement, set out in Articles 1649bistot 1649octies of the Civil Code, and the legal guarantee for hidden defects, provided for in Articles 1641 to 1649 of the Civil Code.
Back in December 2011, Apple was fined €900,000 (roughly $1.2 million USD) by Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), the antitrust authority for Italy, after it was found to be misleading consumers on its warranty policies and related services.
It was then served a formal notice by the European Consumers’ Organisation in March 2012, which called on the company to abandon its current guarantees for consumers.
Apple appealed the decision by AGCM, but ultimately lost its case in the Italian courts later that month. The company made changes to its website, stores and terms, but couldn’t avoid a further €200,000 fine (roughly $264,000 USD) enforced by AGCM in December 2012.
Test-Aaankoop, a consumer protection organization in Belgium, filed a fresh lawsuit earlier this year against Apple’s previous policy. It argued that Apple was not complying with local laws and claimed that the company wasn’t informing its customers of their rights.
Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and EU Commissioner for Justice, then struck out in March with some critical remarks regarding Apple’s behavior.
“In at least 21 EU countries Apple is not informing consumers correctly about the legal warranty rights they have,” she said. “This is simply not good enough. This case and the responses I received since I sent my letter have highlighted rather clearly just why the Commission cannot sit on the side-lines on enforcement issues.”
It seems that Apple is now in compliance with both Belgian and EU law, however. The company will receive less revenue as a result, but it should improve its image both in the eyes of consumers and the European Commission.
Update: According to Engadget, the new rules have been extended to a number of other countries as well, including France and Germany. It isn’t clear what other countries may be included next, if any are scheduled.
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