Australian regulators catch Apple misleading customers about free repairs under consumer law

Australian regulators catch Apple misleading customers about free repairs under consumer law
You might recall the big hullabaloo that occurred last year when Apple was the subject of a class action suit in the U.S. The legal action involved an error 53 message that popped up on certain Apple iPhone models that had parts repaired by unauthorized personnel. With the error message, the affected phone was essentially bricked. The suit was eventually thrown out. In Australia, regulators there are taking Apple to court over essentially the same issue. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is accusing Apple of deliberately misleading customers. The trial begins in mid-December.

The ACCC claims that Apple had been telling iPhone owners that they were not able to get free repairs for their handsets if they first had taken them to a third party repair shop. Apple repeated that excuse to customers even when a repair made by the unauthorized shop had nothing to do with the problem that Apple wouldn't fix for free. The ACCC, trying to catch Apple in the middle of this illegal action, sent out undercover employees to each of the 13 retailers in the country that sell Apple products. This was done last June. The undercovers told Apple staff that the speakers on their iPhone stopped working after the screens were repaired by an unauthorized  third party. In each of the 13 visits, Apple incorrectly told the undercover ACCC agent that it could not repair the speaker for free under Australian consumer law; the reason given by Apple in each case was that the screen had been replaced by a repair shop other than Apple Australia or an Apple-authorized service provider.

Consumer law in Australia states that customers have the right to free repair or a replacement if a product is faulty or the quality of the device is unacceptable. Apple responded to the ACCC's claims by saying that the undercover operation failed to expose any breaches by Apple because consumer law does not exist in "hypothetical circumstances". In other words, Apple claims that because the undercovers did not have a real iPhone with a real problem, they were not given the correct information. The company went on to say that real customers with real iPhone units would have been informed of their rights under Australian consumer law.

The error 53 message affected one in 1,000 iPhone units sold by Apple or its resellers between September 2014 and February 2016. The message would show up whenever the iOS user would try to update his device to iOS 8 or iOS 9.

source: The Guardian

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32 Comments

1. peace247 unregistered

Typical ¢rapple

3. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

Lol the excuse about it being hypothetical is the funniest part.

5. sgodsell

Posts: 7219; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

So Apple sells roughly 200 million iPhone's a year. So that works out to roughly 500 thousand iPhone's with that 53 error. Dam that is a lot of users effected.

7. yann

Posts: 613; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

You're right, but look how PhoneArena gives the number: "affected one in 1,000 iPhone units". Reading this you can easily say: Hey, it is a small number, right? In reality 500 000 units with this message Error 53, excluded from warranty service means: 500 000 by $20US at least for repair - 10 000 000 US dollars more! Just for fun...

20. bambamboogy02

Posts: 837; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

You are investigating wrong. You don't have the correct problem. You are doing it wrong. In other words, Apple being Apple, wont admit it did anything wrong, and play the blame game.

22. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

NOOOOOO!!! Every Apple issue is a small issue. On;y effects 0.0000001% Apple has the lowest phone issues vs any Android OEM. Apple is king and we all should bow down and let Tim Cook defecate all over us, because they are the mighty. iPhones are superior because they rush to crash, die in less than 1/2 a day, take one of the worse pictures vs any other flagship, has a 300% markup, has the fastest single core score even though apps and operating systems are multi-threaded, and we get the best easy to scratch paint coatings and the glass breaks easily too. All pledge allegiance to Apple for raping us of money, and yet treat their customers like poop. Apple has the highest stock value in the world, WORSHIP THEM!!!! APPLE CAN DO NO WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. drunkenjay

Posts: 1657; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

shady

4. BuffaloSouce unregistered

Am I missing something here that only iphone users understand? Honestly, I wouldn't repair a device for free if customers are willing to go to a unauthorized 3rd party in the first place. If they have Apple Care then yeah but that should be voided if they go 3rd party while insured. Car dealerships do the same thing. They're not going to fix your engine for free if they see you have parts that weren't provided by them

6. btbotimtim

Posts: 272; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

i get oil changes from small shops. if my engine breaks down, the company wont fix my engine? is that what you are saying?

24. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Sort of. They are saying, if you have your device repaired by another shop, authorized or not, and after that repair is done and something else stops working, that because we didn't repair it, we won't repair the new issue under warranty. You will have to pay fr the repair. Which is BS.

8. xfire99

Posts: 1205; Member since: Mar 14, 2012

You understand s**t! Is the screen and speaker same component? Apple can deny to repair the screen, but NOT the speaker if the phone still within warranty period. Will cardealer deny to repair the car engine if yours car speakers doesnt works?

28. BuffaloSouce unregistered

I understand s**t?

9. Leo_MC

Posts: 7218; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Apple (and any other manufacturer) should be entitled to refuse the free repair if the device was opened by an unauthorized person. Who knows what they put inside the device or took out, why should Apple's personnel waste time, debugging the issue?! It was said that the speaker has nothing to do with the display; agreed, but what if they used bad quality connectors that corroded the insides and the fault spread to other parts; what if they broke the water resistance etc? And, again, I wish error 53 were a feature on every phone, that way a stolen iPhone would not only be useless, it would be dangerous.

12. xfire99

Posts: 1205; Member since: Mar 14, 2012

So you mean yours dad should thrown you away when u was born. Since he doesnt know if u mom was screwing around while he was at work. He dont know if u really is really his and DNA test is just wasting of time. Why bother to pay for such DNA test when it much easier to kick both u and u mom out of the house.

17. lyndon420

Posts: 6739; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Looks like you're carrying some painful memories around with you.

18. tedkord

Posts: 17312; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Who, me?

14. tedkord

Posts: 17312; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

What if, what if, what if. Totally beside the point. The law in Australia says they have to provide free repair. If Apple wants to sell product in Australia, then Apple must follow all applicable laws in Australia. Period. They were caught here trying to circumvent the law. End of story.

21. Leo_MC

Posts: 7218; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

While I think the banks in Australia are right to refuse Apple's access to their services unless Apple gives them access to NFC, this time I'm taking Apple's side. You are right: a law should be respected, but that doesn't mean we can't talk about the fact that the law is bad.

25. tedkord

Posts: 17312; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Sure we can. But until it's changed, Apple doesn't get to ignore it because they don't like it, which is essentially what they did.

30. Leo_MC

Posts: 7218; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

The law shouldn't dictate what justice is but justice should dictate the laws and in this case the justice is with Apple. If a court in Australia decides - ignoring the justice I was talking about - to pursue a case, Apple can address to an International Court of Arbitration. Under the Nazi regime there were laws that gave the right to German (Italian, Hungarian etc) people to break the human rights and civil liberties of the citizen from other ethnic groups. Indigenous were forced to report every misconduct of the minorities, such as the fact that they were walking on the sidewalk; should one failed to report such a misconduct, would have been jailed. Do you think German people should have respected this law and should have humiliated another human being?

26. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

So because you say the law is stupid, or wrong; that makes it so? In Australia, I am betting there are less Apple store available. I'm not driving 100's of miles to an Apple store, and sending a device means being without a device for weeks. 3rd parties should be able to do the repair, do to apple not being a viable option. Of course you will side with Apple. Customer is always right though. Even when they are wrong. Which they aren't in this case. Replace a home button or display, isn't going to mess up any other connect. I never heard of such a thing. You're willing to give Apple the benefit of the doubt even when they don't even deserve it. Every country have different laws to protect consumers. I don't know where you live, but not everyone is like the US where Corps own the Gov't. Not liking or agreeing with a law, doesn't mean you get to break the law.

31. Leo_MC

Posts: 7218; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

The law is stupid, because it enforces a stupid obligation. I live in a country that doesn't have a single Apple Store (the closest being more than 1,000 km away) but it has numerous AUTHORIZED repair shops.

10. HillaryClinton2020

Posts: 191; Member since: Feb 08, 2017

Shame on you Australia!!

11. razmahtaz001

Posts: 501; Member since: May 11, 2013

whats wrong with doing undercover work? LOL

13. razmahtaz001

Posts: 501; Member since: May 11, 2013

iphonies make fun of samsung when they are caught in the act and defend apple when they are caught in the act...it makes so much sense, so amazing LOL

15. tedkord

Posts: 17312; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Shame on Apple for once again thinking they're above the law. They're finding out quickly that they're not.

27. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The problem is, the USA lets them be above the law. Outside the US they expect the same; but are getting rude awakening.

16. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

I would applaud the Australian regulator for looking out for their consumer. This is what check and balance should be like, an average consumer would not be able to stand against the big mega corporation like Apple. Regulators are supposed to step in to make sure they conduct their business in a fair and lawful manner. Protect the consumer rights when needed.

19. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Austalian regulators will obviously en up winning this case. Apple caught up in karma, once again.

23. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The US was stupid to throw out the case. But they have no issue sticking it to other outfits. The US set terrible precedence. But in most cases, outside the US; Apple tends to lose. Apple is gonna lose this case.

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