Belgian Group Announces Suit Against Apple Over Applecare Terms

A Belgian consumer rights organization has announced it will take Apple to court over the company's failure to satisfactorily disclose EU-mandated warranty terms. According to European Union law, consumers are entitled to a two year warranty, free of charge. Apple, meanwhile, charges for an Apple Care warranty after the first year and steers consumers towards this option.

It's not hard to see the Belgian group's point. Here are a pair of screenshots from the UK Apple store.

That's not the clearest language in the world. Apple's "More Information" page doesn't really improve things.

That first comparison point makes it sound like the EU warranty period is some sort of minimal coverage that only applies to a product defective out of the box. In reality, flaws and defects often take time to present themselves; proving that a piece of hardware was defective from the day you bought it is nigh impossible. There's also no reason a DOA warranty would have a two year time limit. The fine print notes that the burden of proof doesn't actually shift to the consumer until after six months. The overall language implies that Applecare's warranty is superior to what the EU guarantees.

Apple has been fined by regulators before for its warranty practices, but only for a pittance; Italian regulators slapped the company with a $1.2M fine in 2011 after ruling that the company failed to inform consumers of its rights. Apple has declined to comment at this point, but the company has run afoul of the EU on multiple counts this year. Last fall, EU was whacked with fines after an irate judge ruled that the company failed to properly inform consumers that Samsung hadn't infringed on Apple's product designs.