Apple has been handed a $9m fine by the federal court in Australia for making false or misleading claims to customers with faulty iPhones and iPads that had been serviced by third parties.
It was gathered that the nation’s consumer watchdog took the tech giant to court last year following complaints from users about faulty devices.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched legal action in April 2017, claiming Apple had misled consumers about their warranty rights by routinely refusing to inspect or fix faulty devices without charge if they had been repaired by a third party.
“If a product is faulty, customers are legally entitled to a repair or a replacement under Australian consumer law, and sometimes even a refund,” the ACCC said in a statement on Tuesday.
The action was sparked after an investigation into complaints by consumers about an “error 53” that disabled their iPhones and iPads after they downloaded an update to Apple’s operating system.
The US-based technology company admitted that it misled at least 275 Australian customers — by informing them they were no longer entitled to remedies, like a repair or replacement, if their device had been repaired by a third party.
Apple made these representations between February 2015 and February 2016 — on its US website, in-store and on its customer service phone calls.
“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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Apple has offered to compensate about 5,000 customers whose devices were disabled by “error 53”.
Apple also told the court it would improve staff training, audit information about warranties and Australian consumer law on its website and improve its systems and procedures to ensure future compliance.