Can Apple Keep Its Hands Clean of This Mess?

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Continued antitrust spotlight has prompted Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to pull its AppleCare Protection Plan from store shelves in Italy. The warranty plan can still be purchased through Apple’s online store, but the product description on the website mentions that it adds “benefits” to the two years of care buyers in Italy get for free under the government’s consumer code.

Italy’s antitrust body AGCM announced a 900,000 Euros, or then $1.2 million, fine on Apple for allegedly fooling customers into buying the plan, which is an extended warranty service. The iPhone maker was even threatened with a temporary closure of its Italian operations. The confusion first arose because Apple only offers one year of free warranty with its products, while many European countries, including Italy, have a mandatory two-year free technical support requirement.

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The AppleCare service allows users to call in for help over the phone or get their products repaired at the company’s retail stores. Last year, Apple added an optional service that includes coverage for accidental damage.

A spokeswoman for AGCM told Reuters that talks between Apple and the regulator were still in progress and that a decision on the ongoing investigation was likely to be reached at the end of November.

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