An Italian authority known as L’Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM) has fined Apple €10M ($12M) for making false claims about its iPhone water resistance.
On Apple’s support page, the company claims the “iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max have a rating of IP68 under IEC standard 60529 (maximum depth of 6 meters up to 30 minutes).” It also reveals the “iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have a rating of IP68 under IEC standard 60529 (maximum depth of 4 meters up to 30 minutes).” Further notes on the support page are written as: iPhone 11 has a rating of IP68 under IEC standard 60529 (maximum depth of 2 meters up to 30 minutes). iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max have a rating of IP68 under IEC standard 60529 (maximum depth of 2 meters up to 30 minutes). iPhone SE (2nd generation), iPhone XR, iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus have a rating of IP67 under IEC standard 60529 (maximum depth of 1 meter up to 30 minutes).
The Italian authority which ensures companies treat both consumers and competitors found Apple guilty of two things with one of bigger consequence.
The first one states: The first concerns the marketing of a number of different iPhone models – iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11pro and iPhone 11 pro Max – in which it was claimed that each of the advertised products was water resistant to a maximum depth varying between 4 meters and 1 meter depending on the model. for up to 30 minutes.
According to the Authority, however, the messages did not clarify that these claims were true 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 normal use of the devices by consumers.
While the second one reads: Furthermore, the disclaimer “The guarantee does not cover damage caused by liquids”, given the emphatic advertising boast of water resistance, was considered likely 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 claims of water resistance.
The Antitrust also considered it appropriate to take into account Apple’s refusal, in the post-sales phase, to honor warranties when those iPhone models were damaged by water or other liquids, thus depriving consumers of the rights they should expect from the guarantee or in the Consumer Code.
iPhones have internal indicators which shows when water has entered one of the devices. When this indicator is shown, Apple denies warranty repair or replacement as part of its policy which is not fair on the consumer since there is misinformation when a purchase is made and when Apple’s after-sales service is needed.
The Italian antitrust authority has ordered Apple to publish a notice on its Italian website through a “consumer protection information” link. This could be a big problem for Apple on a large scale if authorities in the US decides to follow the same route or in other European countries now that the false claim has been made known.