Apple fined $9 million for misleading Australian customers over Error 53 claims

The Australian consumer watchdog, ACCC, took Apple to court in April last year for its uncompromising repair and warranty policy, specifically regarding the Error 53 bug that plagued Apple users in 2016. The ACCC alleged that the tech giant made “false, misleading, or deceptive representations on consumer guarantees” that are protected under Australian Consumer Law.

The ACCC has won the case against the Cupertino-based firm, with a federal court slapping Apple with a $9 million fine.

“If a product is faulty, customers are legally entitled to a repair or a replacement under Australian consumer law, and sometimes even a refund,” the ACCC said in a statement released on Tuesday, June 19.

Paying for your mistakes

The legal action was the result of an investigation conducted by the ACCC after numerous iPhones and iPads generated the error while updating to iOS 9, which had a feature that could detect if a device had undergone third-party repairs. Apple refused to help the affected customers on the premise that they hadn’t utilised the company’s services to fix their faulty device.

According to the ACCC, Apple admitted that it told at least 275 Australian customers affected by Error 53 that they were not eligible for a repair from the company due to their device having undergone previous service from a third party. However, the court “declared the mere fact that an iPhone or iPad had been repaired by someone other than Apple did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply, or the consumer’s right to a remedy being extinguished,” explained ACCC commissioner Sarah Court.

Despite being fined, Apple has offered to compensate around 5,000 customers who were affected by Error 53, while also promising the court that it would improve its staff training, audit the information about warranties on its website and ensure compliance to Australian consumer laws in the future.

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing camera kits or the latest in e-paper tablets, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She's also the Australian Managing Editor of Digital Camera World and, if that wasn't enough, she contributes to T3 and Tom's Guide, while also working on two of Future's photography print magazines Down Under.