The ACCC has commenced proceedings against Apple Australia and the US-based mothership, alleging the company “made false, misleading, or deceptive representations about consumers’ rights under the Australian Consumer Law”.
The issue stems from iOS 9.2.1. When the update was released, devices that had been repaired by third-parties became unresponsive and effectively bricked. A subsequent upgrade to iOS resolved the issue. They also issued a support note regarding the issue.
In the investigation, the ACCC says they uncovered that “Apple appears to have routinely refused to look at or service consumers’ defective devices if a consumer had previously had the device repaired by a third party repairer, even where that repair was unrelated to the fault.”
Under Australian Consumer Law, a warranty cannot be automatically voided just because a third party repair was carried out.
The ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, injunctions, declarations, compliance program orders, corrective notices, and costs.
I am not a lawyer but, frankly, this was poor behaviour on Apple’s part. The good news is they did release an update that rectified the issue, saying the error was a factory test designed to ensure the TouchID sensor had not been compromised.
However, there is a telling sentence in the ACCC’s announcement regarding this action. It says:
“The ACCC investigation revealed that Apple appears to have routinely refused to look at or service consumers’ defective devices if a consumer had previously had the device repaired by a third party repairer, even where that repair was unrelated to the fault.”
That is the heart of the matter here. The Error 53 issue was resolved in February 2016.
I have heard many anecdotal accounts regarding Apple’s repair and warranty services. I have had several items repaired or replaced by Apple and not encountered any issues. And I never declare my position as the Editor of Macworld Australia or seek preferential treatment. It seems to me that there may be some inconsistency in how Apple Store personnel deal with warranty repairs and replacement.
Regardless, the ACCC’s action is a good thing for the computer industry in general. It puts all manufacturers on notice that they must put customers’ interests first, ahead of profit.