The Federal Court has found that Apple “engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, or conduct that was likely to mislead or deceive” in connection with so-called ‘Error 53’, which was encountered by iPhone and iPad owners after the devices had been repaired by a third-party service.
An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission investigation revealed that Apple had misled customers about their legal right to request a repair or replacement if their device was faulty.
“Apple’s representations led customers to believe they’d be denied a remedy for their faulty device because they used a third party repairer,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said 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.”
“The court’s declarations hold Apple US, a multinational parent company, responsible for the conduct of its Australian subsidiary. Global companies must ensure their returns policies are compliant with the Australian Consumer Law, or they will face ACCC action,” she added.
“Apple has been operating in Australia for over 35 years and we work hard to offer our customers the best possible service,” an Apple spokesperson said.
“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 offered a court-enforceable undertaking to improve training and audit information about warranties and the Australian Consumer Law on its website, the ACCC said.
Apple also agreed to stop using refurbished devices to replace faulty devices.