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Italian Watchdog Fines Apple $12million for Misleading Commercial Practices

Italy’s antitrust authority said on Monday, 30th November, it had fined Apple 10 million euros ($12 million) for “aggressive and misleading” commercial practices regarding its iPhones.

The fine was imposed by L’Autorità Garante Della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), which literally translates into the competition authority and market guarantee. It is the competition control body in charge of ensuring that companies treat consumers and competitors fairly.

According to the Italian watchdog, the Cupertino based big tech was accused of two things, the first one being more serious than the second one.

The First accusation was that Apple made water resistance claims without making it clear to customers that these have been true solely in perfect laboratory situations, and telephones had not handed the identical checks in actual-life situations. 

In marketing materials related to ‌iPhone‌ 8, ‌iPhone‌ 8 Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, ‌iPhone XS‌ Max, iPhone 11, ‌iPhone 11‌ Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, Apple said its iPhones were water-resistant at a depth of between one and four meters for up to 30 minutes, depending on the model.

Italian Watchdog Fines Apple $12million for Misleading Commercial Practices 2
Image source: www.glbnews.com

However, according to the country’s competition regulator, the messages did not clarify that the claims are only true under specific conditions, for example during controlled laboratory tests with the use of static and pure water, and not in the normal conditions of use by consumers.

Second, and extra critically, Apple made iPhone water resistance claims in its advertising, however, then refused guarantee service on telephones which suffered water injury.

Furthermore, the disclaimer “The guarantee does not cover damage caused by liquids”, given the emphatic promoting boast of water resistance, was thought-about prone to deceive customers by not clarifying which sort of assure it referred to (standard assure or authorized assure), nor was it deemed able to adequately contextualizing the situations and limitations of the claims of water resistance.

Hence, Apple has been fined ten million Euros, and moreover ordered to publish a discover on its Italian web site via a ‘Consumer protection information’ hyperlink.

This isn’t the first time Apple has fallen under the radar of Italy’s antitrust watchdog and subsequently been punished. In 2018 Apple was fined 10 million euros (about $11.5 million USD) for “planned obsolescence” of its smartphones without warning customers, following the regulator’s investigation into reports of iPhone battery slowdowns.

According to people, now that the issue has been highlighted, this might potentially pave the way for similar decisions in other countries in the European Union and could potentially lead to class actions in the United States and elsewhere.

But it seems that lawsuits over waterproofing, the Error 53 bug or batteries won’t be able to put off the eager speculation about what Apple may have planned for its next iPhone. New leaks suggest that Apple’s iPhone 13 may mark its first portless offering.

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Drashti

Drashti is a free-spirited TheDigitalHacker contributor, who loves writing stories and listening to music. She loves learning and exploring new languages and cultures, and makes sure to click a picture of the same for her Memoir.
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