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Monday, March 18, 2013, 06:24 am PT (09:24 am ET)

Apple lengthens Australian warranty policy, but doesn't want to talk about it

Apple had quietly extended its hardware warranty in Australia to two years, but the company's retail employees have reportedly been instructed to not reveal the changes to customers.

Apple's new two-year hardware warranty places the company in compliance with Australian laws, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. But an e-mail obtained by the publication from one Apple retail store found that employees were told that they could not discuss details of the changes with customers.

AppleCare


The Australian Consumer Law was passed in January of 2011, requiring companies to provide customers with a "reasonable" length of warranty for products. While the term reasonable is not defined, the law suggests that expensive products such as televisions should be supported for up to 24 months.

The standard warranty for most of Apple's products is 12 months, though customers can purchase an extended AppleCare warranty for their device.

Apple declined to comment on the alleged e-mail that directed employees to not discuss the new policy. But Rod Stowe, Fair Trading Commissioner for the New South Wales government, called hiding details of the 24-month warranty "rather surprising and disingenuous."

"To instruct your staff to not let people know is something that seems of quite concern, and I don't understand why they wouldn't want to be upfront about it," Stowe said. "Apple seems to be generally one of those businesses that is quite responsible to problems."

Apple's standard 12-month product warranties have placed the company in trouble in other parts of the world. Italian authorities have fined Apple nearly $1.5 million U.S. for unfair commercial practices" related to its AppleCare product warranties.

Those fines were brought on by the Italian Antitrust Authority, which deemed that Apple did not provide adequate information to customers about the length of its product guarantees. Italian law requires companies to protect buyers with a free two-year warranty, but Apple continued to offer customers the ability to purchase a two-year warranty rather than receiving one for free.