Apple Fined $9 Million for Misleading Some Australian Customers Over 'Error 53' Device Repairs

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The Australian government today fined Apple $9 million for misleading some customers into believing they could not have their iOS devices fixed by Apple if they had been previously repaired by a third-party repair shop, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Today's ruling comes after the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) launched an investigation into Apple after the ACCC received complaints over "error 53," issues.

iPhone 6 Touch ID
Error 53, widely publicized in 2016, caused some iPhone 6 users who had the Home buttons on their iPhones fixed by a non-Apple technician using non-original parts to see their iPhones bricked following a software update.

When the error code first surfaced, Apple said that error 53 was a protective security feature meant to prevent "malicious" third-party components from potentially compromising a user's iPhone, but after public outcry, Apple released a software update restoring functionality to bricked iPhones. Following the software update to unbrick iPhones, Apple claimed that the error 53 issue was meant to be a factory test and never should have impacted consumer devices.

Amid error 53 investigations led by the ACCC, Apple admitted that between February 2015 and February 2016, at least 275 Australian customers had been told in store or over the phone that they could not have their iPad or iPhone fixed if it had been repaired by a third party, such as in the error 53 situation.

Apple's refusal to provide repairs to Australian customers who had previous repairs done by third-party shops violates Australian Consumer Law, according to an Australian Federal Court.

When it learned of the ACCC's investigation, Apple launched an outreach program that has compensated approximately 5,000 consumers who were affected by error 53. Apple's Australian arm is also improving staff training to make sure its stores comply fully with Australian Consumer Law, and Apple will now provide new devices as replacements instead of refurbished devices if a customer requests one.

In the United States, Apple was hit with a lawsuit over error 53, but it was dismissed after the company restored full iPhone functionality through a software update and reimbursed customers who had paid for out-of-warranty device replacements.

Top Rated Comments

farewelwilliams Avatar
34 months ago
Apple fined the amount of one Jony Ive bathroom break
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Akiainavas Avatar
34 months ago

As an Australian: If Apple want to sell products and services in Australia they need to do so under Australian law. If Apple doesn't like Australian law they are free to stop selling products in Australia .

The same applies to EU laws and yet some Apple apologists here are saying multi-billion corporations should be able to get away with paying no taxes and ireland should be free to use the benefits of the single market without adhering to its rules because “it’s a free country”.

I completely agree with you. If they don’t like the laws - abandon the market and lose the revenue. With that attitude though, Apple’s empire will crumble really quickly
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fermat-au Avatar
34 months ago
As an Australian: If Apple want to sell products and services in Australia they need to do so under Australian law. If Apple doesn't like Australian law they are free to stop selling products in Australia .
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
oldmacs Avatar
34 months ago
Apple apologists "Apple should pull out of countries where they can't get away with doing anything they'd like, doesn't matter about the revenue". Also Apple apologists "Apple can't sacrifice any revenue for optimisation and software support for old devices".
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rom3o Avatar
34 months ago

It's possible that they innocently overlooked that law in the country. You try operating a business in hundreds of countries and perfectly complying with every law that each country has. I'm confident that is extremely complex to manage.

And I am confident that the richest company in the world could afford to hire some legal advisers for those tasks. It’s Apple’s duty to make sure their policies comply with local law when they enter a market. Ignorance is no defence.

To fine a company *AFTER* they took corrective measures seems a bit shady to me. They should only be fined if they did not yet change their policies.

They only got fined for the time they violated the law, seems fair to me.
Otherwise every company could deliberately ignore those laws as long as possible and later quickly change their policies to avoid legal repercussions.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mitochris Avatar
34 months ago

First, it's a refusal of repair *under warranty*, if I understand it correctly? Basically, Apple pays the bill to fix a phone that has been tampered with. In that vein, I side with Apple.

Second, Apple corrected their policies and procedures in Australia. It's possible that they innocently overlooked that law in the country. You try operating a business in hundreds of countries and perfectly complying with every law that each country has. I'm confident that is extremely complex to manage.



To fine a company *AFTER* they took corrective measures seems a bit shady to me. They should only be fined if they did not yet change their policies.

Money grab, or hard-line cost of doing business?

If you drive too fast, get caught, and then slow down, you should not get fined??? No logic!!
[doublepost=1529385482][/doublepost]

I agree they shouldn’t deny completely but how does this work with warranty? Let’s say a different place did a repair and screwed up another part of the phone — is it on the original mfg to discover a means to find out if the failure is because of them or not to provide warranty? Or should OEMs just be allowed to deny warranty claims? This is an honest question by the way, not trying to bait anything just honestly curious

If a shop breaks your device, you complain at that shop. They broke it. They fix it. You are then free to go to a different repair shop for the first fault. Has nothing to do with Apple.
Under warranty it might be different. If you come in with a software issue and the other shop broke the screen, Apple should charge you for the screen, which you should be able to claim back from the shop that broke it. But why would you go to a different shop if it is under warranty? Don’t you have to go back to the place you bought it at?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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