Apple fined $9m for misleading Australian customers with faulty iPhones and iPads


The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has fined Apple AUD$9 million (R92 million) for misleading clients into believing they could not have their iOS devices repaired by an authorised Apple store if they had been previously handled by third-party fix companies.

It all started past year when Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) received complaints from a large number of users about "error 53" that effectively disabled their devices post an update.

The ACCC said Apple admitted that between February 2015 and February 2016 it had told at least 275 Australian customers affected by "error 53" that they were no longer eligible for a remedy if their device had been repaired by a third party.

Court said it was good to see Australia's Federal Court hold a multinational company responsible for compliance with local consumer law.

The Federal Court of Australia found those actions breached consumer law.

Apple has been contacted for comment.

The root of the problem was the latest iOS update which ran a mandatory security check and would declare the phone unusable showing only the Error 53 message.

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But having a third-party repairman install unauthorized Touch ID components resulted in "error 53" messages popping up on affected iPhone and iPad models once iOS 9 was installed. "Global companies must ensure their returns policies are compliant with the Australian Consumer Law, or they will face ACCC action", added Court.

It has also said it will provide new devices as replacements for iPhones and iPads that have suffered a major failure, rather than refurbished ones. "If customers would prefer a replacement, they are entitled to a new device as opposed to refurbished, if one is available", said Court.

"We're constantly looking for ways to enhance the service we deliver and we had very productive conversations with the ACCC about this".

"We will continue to do all we can to deliver excellent service to all of our customers in Australia".

Apple has since admitted that from February 2015 to February 2016, its U.S. website and Apple staff in Australian stores and on customer service phone calls said to 275 Australian customers affected by Error 53 it wasn't responsible for a remedy.

Apple's Australian subsidiary has also made a court enforceable undertaking.