Aussies get a bit i-rate with Apple

Apple has found itself in a bit of hot water after the ‘Error 53’ message which appeared on iLifers screens a couple of years ago, as it may have violated Aussie consumers’ rights.

The message itself appeared after users downloading an update to Apple’s iOS operating system, though mainly on phones which had been repaired by a third party. An investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) claims Apple routinely refused to service defective devices had that device been previously repaired by a third party.

“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,“ said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims.

“Denying a consumer their consumer guarantee rights simply because they had chosen a third party repairer not only impacts those consumers but can dissuade other customers from making informed choices about their repair options including where they may be offered at lower cost than the manufacturer.”

Under Australian law, there are a number of guarantees to ensure consumers are entitled to free repairs or replacement goods, should the product not meet the standards set out in the initial guarantee. The ACCC claims Apple employees told customers they were not entitled to any free services or repairs once the device had been repaired by an unauthorised third party. ACCC now insists the repair of a device by unauthorised third parties does not negate responsibilities, and has therefore been a very naughty company.

“As consumer goods become increasingly complex, businesses also need to remember that consumer rights extend to any software or software updates loaded onto those goods,” said Sims. “Faults with software or software updates may entitle consumers to a free remedy under the Australian Consumer Law.”

This isn’t the first time Apple has rubbed the Aussies up the wrong way either. Back in 2013, the ACCC claimed Apple had made a number of false or misleading representations to a number of consumers regarding their consumer guarantee rights, namely it was not required to provide a refund, replacement or repair to consumers in circumstances where these remedies were required by the consumer guarantees.

Apple acknowledged the claims, and said it would work to resolve the issues raised. Apparently.

While penalties have not been outlined by the ACCC just yet, the Wall Street Journal believes the fines could be as high as $829,000 per violation. That’s £525,000 per violation which is the same as 103,960 pints of Estrella at the local pub. How the ACCC can justify a fine of almost 104,000 pints of lager per violation is beyond us, however we do know the Aussies like a drink…

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