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Apple Repairs Court Case

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Apple taken to court by ACCC over alleged consumer

warranty misrepresentations

Friday 6th April

Apple taken to court by ACCC over alleged consumer warranty misrepresentations. By Lucia Stein 

The ACCC alleges Apple illegally denied warranty repairs because of third party work on devices. Picjumbo.com The competition and consumer law watchdog is taking action against Apple over allegations it misled consumers about their warranty rights under the Australian Consumer Law. Key points: · ACCC alleges Apple breached the consumer law by denying warranty repairs to customers who had used a third party repairer · Consumer law gives customers rights to repair or replacement of faulty goods beyond manufacturer’s warranty · ACCC said Apple’s move may unfairly discourage people from using third party repairers The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against Apple after an investigation into “error 53”, which saw iPads or iPhones disabled after users downloaded an Apple IOS update. The ACCC alleges Apple represented to consumers with faulty products that they were not entitled to a free remedy if their Apple device had previously been repaired by an unauthorised third party repairer, even in cases where the repair was unrelated to the fault. Mr Sims said the central allegation was that consumers who had gone to third parties for repairs, for example to fix a cracked screen, were routinely refused any service to their Apple device, even if the fault had nothing to do with the cracked screen. “Consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law exist independently of any manufacturer’s warranty and are not extinguished simply because a consumer has goods repaired by a third party,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. “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.” Rights outside of warranty The Australian Consumer Law’s guarantees mean you can get some faulty goods replaced even if they are out of warranty.  The ACCC is alleging breaches of the law relating to 275 customers, with each breach carrying a maximum penalty of $1.1 million. However, even if the ACCC wins its case in full, it is extremely unlikely that Apple would be fined anywhere near the maximum penalty for each breach. Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers are entitled to have their goods fixed or replaced at no cost to them in situations where the goods or services are not of an acceptable quality – that is where they have faults, visible damage or do not do what you would normally expect them to. Mr Sims said those consumer guarantees extend to software or software updates loaded onto a product, which means any problems caused by software updates may entitle consumers to a free substitute under the Australian Consumer Law. Apple’s behaviour ‘very unusual’ According to Mr Sims, Apple’s behaviour is “very unusual” and not the sort of behaviour that should be going on in a modern economy. “I find [Apple’s behaviour] puzzling. We often find with companies generally that they like to have goods repaired by themselves, rather than by third party repairers,” he told the ABC. “I think the allegations we’re making here, and which are now before the court, are extremely serious … and I think the allegations if proven, reflect extremely bad behaviour.” He said part of the benefit of putting matters like these before the court was to remind both consumers and companies of their rights and responsibilities under the consumer guarantees. The ABC has contacted Apple for its response.