Group in Portugal alleges 'deceptive' AppleCare policies

An organization known as the Portuguese Association for Consumer Protection says it wants Apple to "properly" inform Portuguese consumers about their rights.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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A Portuguese consumer advocacy group said today that it's moving forward with a lawsuit over Apple's AppleCare policies.

In a statement (translate), the Portuguese Association for Consumer Protection (DECO), said that it has tried since last March to work with Apple to address what it calls "misleading information on consumer rights" related to the warranties customers get after buying one of the iPhone maker's products.

DECO claims that Portuguese consumers automatically receive a two-year warranty on products that applies to all potential defects. Apple, the group charges, mischaracterizes the warranty to get people to buy into its AppleCare protection plan, which offers technical support on its many products for a period of two years.

"When purchasing any goods, the consumer benefits from a two-year warranty," DECO wrote on its site today. "This applies to all defects that arise during this period. Apple reports misleadingly claiming that the guarantee applies only to defects that already exist at the time of delivery.

But DECO wasn't done. The organization also charged Apple with claiming that a defective product can only be turned in for repair or replacement.

"When buying a defective product, the consumer can choose between repair, replacement, price reduction or cancellation of the contract," DECO said of Portuguese consumer law.

DECO claims that Apple is "deceptive" in its description of Portuguese consumer rights, and will request in its lawsuit that the iPhone maker accurately represents what DECO believes, the law explicitly states.

For its part, Apple's Web site indicates that Portugal's warranty law covers a product for two years, but only applies to defects that occur at the time of purchase. Apple's protection plan, the company argues, will cover customers for any flaws that occur for a period of two years.

DECO directly responded to that claim in today's statement, saying that "Portuguese law presumes that the defects that have (occurred) two years after purchase already exist at the time of delivery."

Apple lost a case in Italy last year over a similar issue. A court there fined the iPhone maker $1.2 million for allegedly encouraging customers to purchase AppleCare, despite Italian law requiring companies to offer two years of technical support to buyers. Apple appealed the decision, but lost.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the DECO claims. We will update this story when we have more information.

(Via AppleInsider)