The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission today has filed a federal lawsuit against Apple. The lawsuit targets Apple’s stringent repair and warranty process, specifically mentioning the infamous Error 53 bug that plagued numerous users last year…
In the lawsuit, the ACCC explains that Apple rendered a multitude of consumer devices completely useless via software update last February. As we reported at the time, the Error 53 fiasco was centered around devices that had Touch ID module or screen repairs by an unauthorized third-party, thus causing the device to fail Apple’s security checks.
The ACCC goes on to say that customers are entitled to specific “customer guarantees” when they purchase a good. This relates to things like the quality, suitability for purpose, and other characteristics of the good. These guarantees exist in addition to the standard warranty that may come with a product and require that companies provide remedies at no cost for situations where a product does not comply with the aforementioned guarantees.
The argument made by the ACCC is that having a repair done by a third-party does not mean that Apple has the right to later refuse a fix of its own.
“Denying a consumer their consumer guarantee rights simply because they had chosen a third party repairer not only impacts those consumers but can dissuade other customers from making informed choices about their repair options including where they may be offered at lower cost than the manufacturer.”
In its case against Apple, the ACCC is seeking pecuniary penalties, injunctions, declarations, compliance program orders, corrective notices, and costs.
At the time, Apple explained that Error 53 appeared when a customer had a Home button replaced by a third-party. Apple would run security checks and because the Touch ID module was different, the device would fail the check. Here is how the company defended the error:
“We take customer security very seriously and Error 53 is the result of security checks designed to protect our customers. iOS checks that the Touch ID sensor in your iPhone or iPad correctly matches your device’s other components.
If iOS finds a mismatch, the check fails and Touch ID, including for Apple Pay use, is disabled.”
The issue was the subject of a class action in the United States, though it was eventually thrown out due to a lack of merit. The full statement from the ACCC can be read here. Apple has yet to respond.