Apple fined $9m for misleading consumers about their rights

A court in Australia has fined Apple $9m for making misleading or false statements about their consumer rights to clients who complained about faulty iPads and iPhones.

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) sued Apple US and its Australian subsidiary after investigating consumer complaints regarding “error 53”, which disabled certain iPads and iPhones after the owners installed an updated version of the iOS operating system.

Apple admitted that between February 2015 and February 2016, it misled 275 Australian clients by telling them via client-service phone calls, in-store and on the web that they no longer qualified for remedies such as replacement or repair because their device had been fixed by a third party.

The $9m fine is one of the highest ever for a contravention of consumer legislation.

ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court summarised the court’s conclusions that if an iPad or iPhone had been repaired by an individual not affiliated with Apple, this did not, and could not culminate in the removal of consumer guarantees, or the consumer’s right to a solution ceasing to apply.

The only exception is where the third party damages the product.

Court continued by saying that international firms have to make sure that their return policies comply with local consumer legislation or face ACCC action.

The court also heard that Apple was offering refurbished iPads and iPhones to clients to replace the faulty ones. The ACCC said that consumers have a right to a refund if the product suffers a key failure, or if they prefer a replacement, then a new device.

Apple responded by saying that they will continue to do all that they can to provide an excellent service to all of their Australian customers.

According to the ACCC, Apple has now launched an “outreach program” to reimburse nearly 5,000 clients whose devices became useless because of “error 53”. It will also improve staff training regarding correct procedures and consumer legislation.

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About the author


I've been a passionate evangelist for Apple and the Macintosh throughout my working life, my first love was a Quadra 605 working with a small creative agency in the south of Norfolk UK in the mid 1990's, I later progressed to other roles in other Macintosh dominated industries, first as a Senior graphic designer at a small printing company and then a production manager at Guardian Media Group. As the publishing and printing sector wained I moved into Internet Marketing and in 2006 co-founded which grew to become one the top 200 visited sites in the US (according to Quantcast), at its peak receiving over 15 million visits per month. For the last ten years I have worked as an Affiliate and Consultant to many different business and start ups, my key skill set being online marketing, on page monetisation, landing page optimisation and traffic generation, if you would like to hire me or discuss your current project please reach out to me here.

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