July 3, 2012

Italy Wants To Shut Down Apple Stores For 30 days

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

If you buy any Apple product in America, you are instantly given a one-year warranty on the device. So, if for some reason your iPad starts to malfunction or go on the blink within that first year, you can take it back and have it replaced, easy as pie.

However, if you want a little extra coverage, or if you want someone to call for tech support when Google Chrome starts crashing your MacBook Air, you can purchase AppleCare, an additional 2 year warranty which protects you from all sorts of damages and malfunctions for a total of three years.

This arrangement works fine in America and other countries, but the nation of Italy doesn´t take too kindly to Apple´s offer to sell extra coverage. In fact, under Italian law, all electronics must be sold with a free, 2-year warranty and tech-support package, one year longer than Apple´s standard.

Late last year, Italy´s competition and marketing authority, the AMCG, fined Apple 900,000 euros ($1.13 million) for not informing their Italian customers of their right to a free, 2 year warranty and rights to free technical assistance. Apple appealed the fine in January, 400,000 Euros worth for not offering a free, two-year warranty and 500,000 Euros worth for continuing to sell their own AppleCare. This appeal was denied in May, and Apple is now being told to shell out the big bucks.

Should Apple refuse to pay up, AMCG is threatening to shutter every Apple Store in Italy for 30 days if they don´t comply with the nation´s laws.

According to the BBC, the AMCG has called Apple´s tactics to continue offering their own breed of extended protection “aggressive,” saying it is an “unfair practice” which will force customers to pay for service which they are entitled to at no charge.

Though Apple has made attempts to inform customers about their rights to a 2 year warranty and tech support, the AMCG isn´t appeased. Furthermore, AppleCare offers different protection than what is freely available to Italian citizens. For example, under Italian law, Apple has to replace a product straight away if it´s found to be defective as soon as the product leaves the box. AppleCare, on the other hand, only replaces a product once it´s been used and found to have a defect.

In order to prevent a 30-day loss of sales in Italy, Apple must respond within 30 days and begin to take even larger strides to let their customers know about their 2-year rights. If the AMCG does close every Italian Apple store for 30 days, they could also add an additional 300,000 Euro fine to Apple´s tab.

Apple has issued a statement about this matter, saying: "We've appealed the recent decision of the court as it was, in our view, based upon an incorrect interpretation of the law. We've introduced a number of measures to address the [Italian authorities'] concerns and we disagree with their latest complaint."

Apple has recently wrapped up a row with the Australian government about their marketing of the 4G iPad. Their latest tablet device isn´t compatible with Australia´s only 4G network, Telestra. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took Apple to court over the matter. In the end, Apple had to pay a $2.26 million fine to the commission, as well as pay their legal fees.