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Case detail

B a c k

Directive article Article 6 1. (g)
Article 7 1.
National ID PS7256
Country Italy Decision date 21/12/2011
Common name "COMET-APPLE-PRODOTTI IN GARANZIA" Decision type Administrative decision, first degree
Court Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (Rome) Plaintiff(s)
Court translation Italian Competition Authority Defendant(s) Apple Sales International, Apple Italia S.r.l., Apple Retail Italia S.r.l.
Subject guarantee
Keywords consumer rightsguaranteemisleading advertisingmisleading omissions

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Headnote

Constitutes a misleading commercial practice, the offering of a contractual guarantee on consumer goods, when omitting to give clear information on already existing and more extensive mandatory guarantee. 

Facts

On 28 April 2011, the Italian Competition Authority decided to launch an investigation against defendants in order to ascertain whether these companies had breached the rules on unfair commercial practices with respect to the information provided on the two-years legal guarantee of conformity of consumer goods to sale contracts, and on the optional commercial guarantee available.


It was established that consumers were not well-informed on the existence of the mandatory 2 year guarantee period, neither in the shops nor on the website of the  defendants. Conversely, the defendants particularly drew the attention to a contractual paying 1-year guarantee offered by the manufacturer Apple. In addition, the defendants actively tried to convince the customers to contract after-sale services, whilst they did not point out that most repairment and exchange obligations are already set forth in Italian law.
 

Legal issue

Does it constitute a misleading commercial practice to offer a contractual guarantee on consumer goods, when omitting to give clear information on already existing and more extensive mandatory guarantee?

Decision

The Italian Competition Authority held that the activities conducted by the defendants constituted unfair commercial practices.

In a short reasoning, it was held that the failure to provide sufficient information to consumers intending to take a transactional decision, on a mandatory (free) two-year guarantee on consumer products, at retail outlets and/or on the websites of the trader is misleading.

The Competition Authority further found that the defendants prevented consumers from exercising their rights to obtain free technical support by inducing them to believe that only a conventional 1-year guarantee of the trader was applicable.
In short, it was held by the Authority that the incomplete and misleading information on the extension and scope of the conventional commercial guarantees additionally provided by the professional, combined with the lack of transparency on the existence of the two-years legal guarantee, prevented consumers from taking an informed transactional decision on the purchase of goods and on the subscription of a paid-for additional contractual guarantee.
 

  URL Decision Decision full text
EN N/A
IT http://www.agcm.it/consumatore/consumatore-delibere/open/C12560D000291394/57606ADEA5842FF6C1257981004A4E99.html

Result

The Italian Competition Authority decided to impose fines amounting to 900.000€, and it issued an order on the cessation of the unfair behavior. Moreover, the defendants were obliged to publish an extract of the decision on their websites. 

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