Italy not letting Apple off the hook for illegal warranty policy

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The Italian government isn’t messing around when it comes to product warranties. After extracting a hefty fine from Apple late last year for honoring only one year of free product warranty coverage, the state is moving to add additional fines and even force the company to temporarily shut down its operations in the country until it complies, Reuters reports.

Italy’s Competition and Market Guarantor Authority (AGCM) is threatening to fine Apple 300,000 euros (about $377,500) for giving one year of warranty service to customers for free, but charging for additional coverage through its AppleCare product. Italy requires all companies offer two years of product coverage for free.

According to Reuters:

The AGCM said in its monthly bulletin that Apple was continuing to adopt unfair commercial practices in Italy and noted this could eventually lead to the closure of its Italian operations for up to 30 days.

The U.S. group has 30 days to respond.

The AGCM alleges that information provided by Apple about an extra guarantee scheme encourages customers to buy the service without clearly explaining that the company is obliged to offer a two-year free warranty, the source said.

In December Apple was ordered to pay 400,000 euros for not explaining the two-year warranty guarantee to Italian consumers and an additional 500,000 euros for offering AppleCare without a complete explanation of consumers’ rights. It appealed the fines but lost, and is now facing more fines. It’s not clear how big Apple’s operations are in the country in total, but it does have 10 retail stores.

Apple has scored some important legal wins here at home recently — but its luck hasn’t been as consistent on the international stage.

The 4G iPad false advertising case in Australia, a $60 million iPad trademark payout in China, and Italy’s aggressiveness on enforcing warranty rules shows that even the richest and most influential tech company in the world isn’t immune to local laws and red tape. Luckily for Apple, it has enough cash in the bank to shrug off a few million-dollar fines here and there.

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