The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has initiated proceedings in the Federal Court against Apple Australia and its US-based parent company.
The ACCC is alleging that Apple made false, misleading or deceptive representations about consumers’ rights under the Australian Consumer Law. The consumer watchdog is seeking pecuniary penalties, injunctions, declarations, compliance program orders, corrective notices and costs.
The ACCC started to investigate the iPhone maker after reports relating to ‘error 53’, which disabled some consumers’ iPads or iPhones after downloading an update to Apple’s ‘iOS’ operating system.
Many of the customers facing this error had had their Apple device repaired by a third party, usually for the replacement of a cracked screen.
The ACCC investigation revealed that Apple appears to have refused to look at or service consumers’ defective devices if a consumer had previously had the device repaired by a third-party repairer, even when that repair was unrelated to the fault.
According to the consumer watchdog, Apple allegedly broke the Australian Consumer Law by not providing consumers with the free remedy they were allowed, by claiming the devices had been previously repaired by "unauthorised repairers".
"However, having a component of the Apple device serviced, repaired or replaced by someone other than Apple cannot, by itself, extinguish the consumer’s right to a remedy for non-compliance with the consumer guarantees," stated the ACCC.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims added: "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."
Sims also reminded businesses that consumer rights extend to any software or software updates loaded onto consumer goods.
"Faults with software or software updates may entitle consumers to a free remedy under the Australian Consumer Law,” Sims said.
CRN has contacted Apple for comment.