Italy fines Apple over protection plans

Written by The Financial Times | Updated: Dec 29 2011, 08:30am hrs
By Chris Nuttall in San Francisco

Apple has been fined 900,000 euros by Italy's competition authority for selling consumers protection plans for its products without adequately informing them of a statutory two-year warranty.

The Antitrust Authority said Italy's consumer code gave buyers the right to two years of free care for their products, but three Apple divisions in Europe had been less than clear about this in information given in Apple stores in Italy and on its website.

Instead, Apple had emphasised its own one-year guarantee for its products and had been selling extended protection through its AppleCare Protection Plan to buyers, meaning the protection bought overlapped with the extra year provided by law.

Apple Italy, Apple Italy Retail and Apple International Sales were fined 400,000 euros for failing to adequately inform consumers about the two-year guarantee and 500,000 euros for inducing them to sign up for overlapping protection plans as a result.

The authority said it had opted not to fine Apple the maximum 500,000 euros for the first offence as Apple had made changes to improve information for consumers during its investigation.

Apple Sales International has 90 days to change the terms of its AppleCare Protection Plan so that it recognises the existence of the two-year guarantee.

An Apple spokesperson was unavailable for comment.

The Financial Times Limited 2011