Is Apple an Outlaw?

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) advertisement of its product warranties will be investigated in Europe after the Union’s Justice Commissioner wrote to member states expressing concerns. Viviane Reding expressed worries that Apple may be not be completely informing customers in the European Union’s 27 member states that they are entitled to a two-year warranty under European law. Apple only offers a one-year warranty for users in the rest of the world.

“Apple prominently advertised that its products come with a one-year manufacturer warranty but failed to clearly indicate the consumers’ automatic and free-of-cost entitlement to a minimum two-year guarantee under EU law,” Reding wrote in the letter to member states, according to Bloomberg. “These are unacceptable marketing practices.”

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Apple does mention the two-year warranty applicable under European law on its website, but Reding said the company’s retailers may not be doing enough to let consumers know about it. In addition, while European consumer law covers defects in the product at the time of delivery, Apple’s warranty and the AppleCare protection plan only cover defects that come up after the buyer receives the device.

Last year, Apple was fined 900,000 euros, or $1.2 million, by an Italian regulator for “misleading” customers by “prominently advertising” that its products have a one-year manufacturer warranty, when they in fact had two.

The EU countries have different sanctions for violations of consumer protection law and the main European Commission has the right to take legal action against a member state that does not enforce EU rules.

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