All Apple websites could be blocked in Belgium over AppleCare controversy


Belgian Apple Store concept image:

A Belgian judge is reportedly considering ordering local ISPs to block access to all Apple websites in the country in response to a long-running dispute over the company’s promotion of AppleCare warranties, according to local newspapers cited by

A case brought by the consumer protection group FPS Economy argued that Apple misleads consumers by claiming a standard warranty of one year, and selling an optional AppleCare extension, when EU law means that manufacturers are legally obliged to offer a minimum warranty of two years as standard … 

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The judge is said to be hesitating over this rather extreme proposal after it was pointed out the problems that would be caused for Apple customers in Belgium if they were unable to access Apple servers for services like iCloud and iTunes.

Apple previously hit similar troubles in Italy, resulting in AppleCare being withdrawn and total fines of almost $1.5M being levied. The case was settled when Apple changed its warranty pages on its websites across EU countries with a new table showing the different forms of warranty coverage available.


EU law provides protection against faults which were present at the time of sale. However, any fault occurring within two years (or more, in some countries) is presumed to have been present when sold unless the retailer can prove otherwise.

Consumer groups in ten further EU countries launched cases requiring Apple to do more to advise consumers of their legal rights before selling them AppleCare. The Belgian case is one of these, with FPS Economy arguing that the change to the website was an inadequate response.

Apple also increased its Australian warranties from one year to two years after facing similar pressures there.

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  1. PMZanetti - 9 years ago

    Who the hell is the EU to say that Apple’s warranties should be two years standard? That’s frigging ludicrous.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      The EU says that *all* product warranties have to be two years.

      • We get upto 5 years depending on devices here in Norway… And let’s be honest, why should we expect a device to ONLY last 1 year, should we not have a reasonable expectation that a device should last a minimum of 3 years…??? Jeez the manufacturers get off light most places, 2 years is almost fair in my mind…

        And the reason the EU get that minimum, is because there legislation says so… If Apple do not like it, they don’t have to sell here… ;) It is how it is… If people kicked up in the USA then maybe you would get the same there, that is if the lobbyists working for companies don’t get in the way… Haha

      • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

        Simple solution: Apple stops offering warranties at all, on anything.

      • Daniel Perván - 9 years ago

        @Tallest Skil: Warranty is always included in the EU.

      • thejuanald - 9 years ago

        So Tallest Skil again opens its mouth without knowing what it is talking about.

    • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 9 years ago

      No, it’s entirely sensible, logical, and fair to consumers. Products should last well beyond the 2 year mark. Given that we’re running out of rare earth metals and oil, and transporting goods around the world is a significant contributor to climate change, people need to be encouraged to replace things far less regularly. This can be achieved partly by making products last longer, and by permanently eradicating idiotic practices such as planned obsolescence.

  2. Rob (@rtn5000) - 9 years ago

    Meh..Germany. Because they always make sound decisions.

  3. Robbe van Heijst - 9 years ago

    There’s an important part in the Belgian article that you don’t mention:

    “Hij zou echter vorige week op zijn vraag zijn teruggekomen en aarzelen hoe het verder moet. Blijkbaar zou het besef gegroeid zijn dat het onhaalbaar is om de sites van Apple te blokkeren zonder dat ook andere diensten, zoals iTunes, niet meer zouden werken.”

    Freely translated this means:

    Last week the judge decided to weaken his demands. Now he is hesitant for future actions. Apparently he realised that blocking the websites of Apple would also affect their services, like iTunes, iCloud and so on.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      That is in the piece, Robbe: “The judge is said to be hesitating over this rather extreme proposal after it was pointed out the problems that would be caused for Apple customers in Belgium if they were unable to access Apple servers for services like iCloud and iTunes.”

    • John Molloy (@jgpmolloy) - 9 years ago

      Beyond the issues here, how is a judge even able to take down access to certain Internet sites? I know that Europe doesn’t have free speech laws, but this is quite simply draconian.

      Don’t like gay people? Ban their web sites. Don’t like people’s ethnicity? Ban their web sites. What is this, 1939?

      • Robbe van Heijst - 9 years ago

        In Belgium websites can be blocked if they violate the so called customer protection laws. Since warranty is part of those laws companies violating these laws can see their websites, in theory, be blocked.
        Luckily this doesn’t happen that often

      • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 9 years ago

        What a complete non sequitur. If Apple are failing to comply with entirely sensible EU consumer protection laws, then they must be punished financially. Blocking their web sites is one way to go about it.

      • Larry Vandemeer - 9 years ago

        Are you talking about the US or EU? Cause last I heard it was some U.S. states that were trying to pass laws that allowed racist/bigoted businesses to refuse service to gays. What is this? The 1800s?

      • thejuanald - 9 years ago

        Equating tech warranties to bashing gays and different races. Sounds like a good argument. Sigh….

  4. Mr. Grey (@mister_grey) - 9 years ago

    I understand the reasoning but two year (or higher!) consumer warranty is flat out ridiculous. Considering how most consumer products like toasters, microwaves, etc. are actually *designed* to only last two years or so it’s manufacturing and retail suicide.

    No wonder Europe isn’t doing so well financially. With this law in place in my country, I would never have to buy anything again, just “rent” it for as long as I want, then take it back for a full refund.

    • Haroen Viaene (@haroenv) - 9 years ago

      No, this warranty is only if something is wrong with the product, not if you don’t like it. Now if your apple product would break between one and two years the shops would not take it back, while they should and all other manufacturers do follow this rule.

      • rrobinson1216 - 9 years ago

        Then this tells the manufacturers to stop ‘designing’ crap that only lasts two years. Why in this day and age is that acceptable? It’s 2014, not 1950. Manufacturing is no longer at its infancy.

      • thejuanald - 9 years ago

        @rrobinson1216, the funny thing is, things were built to last forever in 1950. Now things are built to break.

    • Larry Vandemeer - 9 years ago

      Ridiculous why? Because in the US we only get 1 year? Who says the EU is wrong and the US right? As a US consumer I also would like products here to have 2 year warranty. Geez. Let’s not be American sheep in every sense of the word.

    • Inaba-kun (@Inaba_kun) - 9 years ago

      The EU has many problems, but one area where it excels, is consumer protection. Manufacturing is very mature now, and the only reason a product would fail at the 2 year mark would be down to gross incompetence in design and/or manufacturing. Cars last for decades. TVs last for decades. There’s no reason why a phone shouldn’t last for 10 years+ as well.

      Frankly any manufacturer caught designing products with artificially short life spans should face gargantuan fines and even imprisonment. It’s time for the tech industry to grow up and accept that the earth has finite resources, and we need to be frugal, responsible, and logical about how we use what little remains.

    • thejuanald - 9 years ago

      All these people getting angry that Europe is protecting consumers from fucked up companies screwing them over is quite sad. Do you actually believe that it’s okay that nearly all tech is designed specifically to die after two years?

      • herb02135go - 9 years ago

        I wish America had consumer protection laws like this.
        I agree than any product failing in two years of normal use is poorly designed. Of course, in the tech arms race that’s usually the case.

        Extended warranties are a scam. Many credit cards double the manufacturer’s warranty anyway, giving you an additional year. It replaced an iMac cd drive and a digital camera for me.

        Why doesn’t the US require a two-year warranty? Simple. Because people buy extended warranties. Why would a business give away something that people will pay for?

  5. Fil Aperture - 9 years ago

    You might wanna update you story, the judge denied the request the block Apple websites, stating that it would be impossible to keep services like iTunes and iCloud available to users.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      Do you have a link to it being ruled out? The original story said that the judge was ‘hesitating’ due to this concern.

  6. Don Seidel - 9 years ago

    crazy. EU Socialist thinking vs US Capitalism: If you don’t like the warranty, Don’t buy it ! If enough people pass on Apple products due to whatever warranty the company offers, Apple will change on their own or someone else will offer a competing product with a better warranty. Consumers need no “protection” unless a company doesn’t do what it promises.

    In the US, cheaper products come with short warranties; we accept the risk for the lower price. Conversely, we wiling pay a high price for what we perceive is a superior product, and most often it comes with a superior warranty.

    EU gov’t forcing warranty terms only costs everyone more because there is no inexpensive alternative.

  7. Don Seidel - 9 years ago

    If EU can enforce a 2-yr warranty, why not 10yrs, 20? How about lifetime warranty? Nothing would be produced for consumers to buy because no business could survive. Socialism feels so good until it collapses an entire economy.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 9 years ago

      Some countries have gone further, but most have opted for two years. So far it doesn’t appear to have caused any businesses to collapse. I’d frankly be worried if I thought anything made by Apple couldn’t be relied on to last two years.

  8. Reading peoples opinions about this, tells me how misinformed the general public is about basic warranty laws in the EU. No wonder people are so easily cheated out of their rights when they can’t even follow basic “life lessons” or common sense and no wonder Apple can take advantage of the ill informed so easily.

  9. Clinton Dyches - 9 years ago

    Look at how lucky the UK customers are – 6 years. Here in the US, consumer laws are a joke and Apple can get by with a single year’s warranty. Oh, to live in the UK again…


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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