Australia has slapped Apple Inc with a $9 million fine for misleading iPhone 6 users on an error that bricked their phones after having them repaired at third-party repair shops.
The U.S. tech giant reportedly told customers that they could not repair their handsets at Apple if they had tried to repair them at a third-party. The practice is illegal in Australia, so the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission launched a probe into the issue.
The ACCC said that many iPhone users have complained about a so-called “error 53”. In 2016, many iPhone 6 users that had repaired their devices’ Home button at a non-Apple repair shop, lost complete functionality of their phones after an update.
The error also affected phones who got repaired with non-original spare parts. Apple explained that the error was set in place to prevent bad actors from adding non-original parts to the iPhone to compromise the handsets.
However, after a public outcry, Apple updated the bricked devices and unlocked them. Following the update, the company said that the error was supposed to appear only in factory tests, not on consumer devices.
Apple in the Hot Seat in Australia
ACCC investigators found that Apple’s customer service employees told nearly 300 Australian consumers that they could not repair their handsets by an Apple technician if they had resorted to a third-party repair shop.
A federal court ruled that the U.S. company’s refusal to repair the phones infringes Australian Consumer Law.
After ACCC launched its probe, Apple Inc. abruptly decided to compensate 5,000 affected users if their devices displayed error 53. The company also trained its staff to fully comply with the country’s laws when offering customer service.
Also, customers who want a replacement will get a new device instead of a refurbished one.
In the U.S., Apple was sued over error 53, but the case was dismissed following a software update and a compensation program.
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