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EU probes Apple over 'unacceptable' warranty ads

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has reportedly penned a letter to member state ministers asking them to verify that Apple is notifying customers that they are entitled to two-year product warranties.

As reported by Bloomberg, Reding wrote that Apple is "prominently" advertising its one-year warranty, but does not appear to be telling customers that EU law requires a minimum two-year warranty. As a consequence, customers might be buying pricier Apple Care plans rather than taking advantage of free, two-year plans.

"These are unacceptable marketing practices," wrote Reding.

The letter comes about a year after Apple incurred a €900,000 fine from the Italian Antitrust Authority for misleading consumers about warranties. Apple provided "unclear information on payments for additional assistance offered to consumers" and had not "fully implemented the two-year guarantee by the producer," Italian officials said at the time.

According to Apple's Hardware Warranties website, the company provides a one-year warranty on its products in the US. Despite the rules in the EU, however, the website also lists its warranties as valid for one year across Europe. A MacBook Air purchased in Italy, for example, includes a one-year warranty, the site says. A new iPad bought in France? Also one year.

A separate webpage elaborates on warranty options in Europe: "When you purchase Apple products, European Union consumer law provides statutory warranty rights in addition to the coverage you receive from the Apple One-Year Limited Warranty and the optional AppleCare Protection Plan." More details are below; click for a larger image.

According to the EU, meanwhile, warranties apply across all member states. As of September 2010, Apple introduced cross-border warranty repair services across all EU and European Economic Area countries.

Reding's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.