Apple has been fined $9 million by an Australian court for breaches of competition law over false or misleading representations to customers with faulty iPhones and iPads. Apple refused to help the affected customers on the premise that they hadn't utilised the company's services to fix their faulty device.
At the core of the Australian suit is an issue that has attracted global regulatory attention: Apple's stated unwillingness to fix devices that have been opened by third-party repair shops.
Error 53 first hit headlines back in 2016 after it was revealed that some iPhone 6 and 6S handsets that had their Touch ID sensor replaced by a non-Apple technician were being borked beyond fix by an update to iOS 9.
But according to Australian Consumer Law, that's not on.
But when customers sought repairs, Apple denied some of them assistance because their devices had previously been fixed by a third party, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said.
The Sydney Morning Herald said the ACCC launched court action against Apple after it received complaints about "error 53", which disabled certain Apple devices after an operating system update was downloaded.
The users were told by Apple that they were not eligible to have their iPhone or iPad replaced or repaired if their device had been repaired by another company.
As a result of the investigation, a concern arose that in some cases Apple was providing error 53 warranty claim customers with refurbished iPhones and iPads instead of new products.
"These representations were made from February 2015 to February 2016 on Apple US' website, by Apple Australia's staff in-store and on its customer service phone calls", the ACCC said in a statement.
Court said it was good to see Australia's Federal Court hold a multinational company responsible for compliance with local consumer law.
"If people buy an iPhone or iPad from Apple and it suffers a major failure, they are entitled to a refund", Ms Court said.
For its part, Apple admitted to the charges, and even offered a court enforceable undertaking to "not engage in this kind of conduct in the future".