The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has begun legal proceedings against Apple over claims that the conditions of customers’ warranties were misrepresented by the software giant.
An update to the software used for Apple products has caused some iPhones and iPads to become disabled after downloading the iOS update, which became known as “error 53”.
Apple had previously claimed that any customers who had had devices repaired by unauthorised third party retailers had voided their warranties in the aftermath of the mass error. However, the ACCC is refuting that claim and arguing that using third-party repairers had no impact on the warranty rights of consumers.
The Australian Consumer Law protects the rights of Australians to repairs under warranty if products are found to be of poor or inadequate quality. The ACCC intends to take the case to court on the basis that Apple was not only guilty of unfairly voiding warranties, but also of overcharging for their own repairs, forcing consumers to pursue the option of third-party repairers.
“Consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law exist independently of any manufacturer’s warranty and are not extinguished simply because a consumer has goods repaired by a third party,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.
“Denying a consumer their consumer guarantee rights simply because they had chosen a third party repairer not only impacts those consumers but can dissuade other customers from making informed choices about their repair options – including where they may be offered at lower cost than the manufacturer.”
Apple had made their stance on the issue clear on their support website in the aftermath of the software update reaction. Their specific page regarding error 53 said: “If the screen on your iPhone or iPad was replaced at an Apple Service Centre, Apple Store, or Apple Authorized Service Provider, contact Apple Support. If the screen or any other part on your iPhone or iPad was replaced somewhere else, contact Apple Support about pricing information for out-of-warranty repairs.”
There are 275 separate consumer complaints that the ACCC are presenting against Apple, and each case carries a maximum fine of $1.1million. However, a full implementation of the maximum fine is highly unlikely, even if the ACCC wins every single case.