Italy’s watchdog fines Apple €10mn for misleading iPhone claims

Apple advertised without clarifying that several iPhone models were water-resistant only under certain circumstances -says the Italian regulator.

Italian Antitrust Authority, Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) has fined Apple 10 million euros for misleading and aggressive commercial practices.

On Monday, November 30th, 2020 AGCM in a press release said that the authority fined the tech giant or two distinct unfair commercial practices. First, the products could handle 1 meter to 4 meters in-depth and up to 30 minutes. “…for each of the advertised products, the characteristic of being water-resistant for a maximum depth varying between 4 meters and 1 meter depending on the model and up to 30 minutes” read the press release

Second, the advertisements did not clarify that the water-resistant feature is true only under certain circumstances. “The messages did not clarify that this property is found only in the presence of specific conditions, for example during specific and controlled laboratory tests with the use of static and pure water, and not in the normal conditions of use of the devices by consumers,” it added.

According to the Authority, Apple’s said disclaimer on water damage does not get covered in the iPhone’s warranty, despite boasting about iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11pro and iPhone 11 pro Max being water resistance.

“The contextual indication of the disclaimer “The guarantee does not cover damage caused by liquids”, given the emphatic advertising boast of water resistance, was deemed suitable to deceive consumers by not clarifying which type of guarantee it referred to (conventional guarantee or legal guarantee), nor was it deemed capable of adequately contextualizing the conditions and limitations of the assertive claims of water resistance”, read the press release.

Considering all these factors, the Antitrust Authority imposed the fine on Apple Distribution International and Apple Italia Srl. It further ordered the publication of an extract of the provision on its website and its page web via the link “Consumer protection information”.

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