Sting operation catches Apple staff misleading customers – leaked court docs
Australia’s consumer watchdog launched the sting that began after iPhone and iPad customers experienced a software update that rendered their devices useless if a previous repair had been carried out by an ‘unofficial’ technician.
‘Error 53’ is a message that would appear if some iPhones and iPads with TouchID fingerprint sensors had been updated to iOS 9.0 between September 2014 and February 2016. If the update detected that the fingerprint sensor had been tampered with by a non-Apple technician, the device was disabled or ‘bricked’.
In February 2016, Apple issued an update that put the devices back into working order, although without the fingerprint technology.
That wasn’t enough to appease Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) who started to build a case against Apple, according to court documents obtained by the Guardian Australia.
In June last year, employees from ACCC posed as Apple customers and called all 13 Apple retailers across the country complaining that their iPhone speakers stopped working after their screens were replaced by a third party, according to the documents.
In all 13 instances, an Apple employee told the ACCC worker that, under Australian Consumer Law, they were not required to fix the speaker if a repair had been carried out by a non-authorized third party service provider.
The ACCC argues that Australian Consumer Law stipulates that any customer is entitled to a replacement or free repair if the product is faulty or of an unacceptable quality.
Court documents from the case, which is going to trial in mid-December, accuse Apple of misleading customers by telling them they were not entitled to assistance if they had previously sought the services of a non-Apple entity – even if the repair was not related to the fault at hand.
Apple has yet to publicly respond to the case but did deny the allegations in court documents, according to the Guardian Australia.