An Australian court has fined Cupertino based electronics giant Apple $6.7 million USD or about $9 AUD. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sued the company for ‘bricking’ iphones of Australian customers who got them repaired from non apple service centres.
‘Bricking’ is a technique used by companies to use software update/patch to disable smartphones and tablet devices remotely when they are updated.
Australian federal court ruled in favour of ACCC saying that Apple had breached country’s consumer law by telling some 275 Australian customers that they were not eligible for remedy if their device had been repaired by some third party service station.
“The mere fact that an iPhone or iPad had been repaired by someone other than Apple did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said in a statement.
The case came into the scrutiny after multiple complaints were received by Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regarding an ‘error 53’ which disabled customer’s iphones and ipads after they had updated Apple’s iOS operating system. When the customers tried contacting the company between Feb 2015 and Feb 2016, company told about 275 customers that company was no longer responsible to remedy their device since it had been repaired by third party.
“If a product is faulty, customers are legally entitled to a repair or a replacement under the Australian Consumer Law, and sometimes even a refund. Apple’s representations led customers to believe they’d be denied a remedy for their faulty device because they used a third party repairer,” said ACCC commissioner Sarah Court in a statement.
“The Court declared the mere fact that an iPhone or iPad had been repaired by someone other than Apple did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply, or the consumer’s right to a remedy being extinguished.” court added in a statement.
“If people buy an iPhone or iPad from Apple and it suffers a major failure, they are entitled to a refund. If customers would prefer a replacement, they are entitled to a new device as opposed to refurbished, if one is available,” said Court.
ACCC said that after Apple was informed about the investigation, the companies started outreach program to the customers whose devices were made inoperable by the software update of ‘Bricking’. Apple contacted about 5000 customers under this outreach program and the company also gave assurance that it will improve upon staff training, information about warranty and local consumer laws on its website to ensure compliance.
“Global companies must ensure their returns policies are compliant with the Australian Consumer Law, or they will face ACCC action,” added Court.