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Apple fined over misleading customers in Italy

Apple has had a great 2011, with Christmas being no different. At the last count the tech giant was leading the way in smartphones festive sales.

Sales of Apple’s mobile devices, the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 iPhone 3GS, accounted for more than a third of all smartphone sales in the UK.

But the company has found itself in hot water in Italy over its customer guarantee policy, with an Italian watchdog fining Apple 900,000 Euros.

Apple misled customers

Italy’s ‘Antitrust Authority’ has ruled that Apple breached the country’s guidelines on warrantees, saying the company had misled customers.

Under Italy’s Consumer Code, companies operating in the country must offer a free two year warrantee for electrical items.

Italy’s Antitrust Authority found that Apple was failing to inform shoppers of their legal right to two years’ worth of technical support.

The computer giant was found guilty of doing this with all its electrical devices, including the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and iPod.

A fine of 400,000 Euros was handed down to three of Apple’s local divisions for failing to properly inform customers of this right. These included Apple Italia, Apple Sales International, and Apple Retail Italia.

iPhone, iPod and iPad customers charged extra

As well as failing to inform customers, Apple was also found guilty of trying to make customers pay an additional fee for its extended warrantee service.

Apple customers were urged to sign up for the company’s AppleCare service, which charged a fee for an extended warrantee service.

This goes against Italy’s regulations, and Apple was fined an additional 500,000 Euros for encouraging customers to fork out more cash.

This is obviously peanuts to a company like Apple, but it is likely to cause some unwanted attention and embarrassment.

As well as the fine, Italy’s Antitrust Authority is forcing Apple to publish an extract of the ruling on its website, and alter its AppleCare service.