ACCC taking Apple to task on guarantees

Anthony Caruana
7 April, 2017
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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.

Opinion

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.

One Comment

One person was compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Ivan says:

    Having just gone through a repair issue with an Apple store, I think one of the problems is that the Apple Stores pick and choose when they consider themselves to be an extension of Apple Inc and when they consider that they are an independent reseller, in the same ilk as JB Hi Fi, Harvey Norman and others. That inconsistency runs from one “Apple Genius” to the next in the very same store. From a consumer’s point of view, the Apple Logo and Apple Name identifies them squarely as part of the parent company but an Apple Store manager told me recently that if they wanted to argue the toss, the ACCC and Fair Trading would come down to agree with the Apple Stores’ view that they’re independent resellers. So really, what hope does an average consumer have?

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