An Australian court ordered Apple to pay AUD9 million ($6.6 million) in penalties for breaching the country’s consumer law by making false or misleading claims to customers who had their devices repaired by third parties.
The Australian Federal Court ruled in favour of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which took legal action following an investigation that found Apple failed to provide the correct assistance to users when iPhones and iPads serviced by third parties were disabled by an erroneous iOS update.
Apple admitted that between February 2015 and February 2016 it had told at least 275 customers whose devices were disabled they were not eligible for a remedy if their device had been repaired by a third party, ACCC explained in a statement.
Commissioner Sarah Court said: “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.”
“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.”
After the ACCC notified Apple about its investigation, the company implemented an outreach programme to compensate individual consumers whose devices were made inoperable. The outreach programme was extended to about 5,000 consumers.
The vendor also offered to improve staff training, audit information about warranties and consumer law on its website, and improve its systems and procedures to ensure future compliance, ACCC said.