Remember Error 53? Australia is making Apple pay for it.
Can you call it an error when it’s on purpose? While most would not, Apple did just that. Back in early 2016, many iPhone and iOS users found their devices bricked, with nothing but an odd notice of “Error 53”. It was quickly discovered that this was Apple purposely bricking user’s devices. The reason for Apple gave? Security of course.
Error 53 was triggered by users who had their devices repaired by third party repair shops. Fixing a cracked screen, or replacing a fouled Touch ID sensor, by someone other than Apple, resulted in Apple completely bricking the devices. These users were then told that their devices, which had been working before the latest update, were no longer covered under warranty, and the only relief would be purchasing a new device. Apple gave the reason of security. Claiming that third party repairs may place users at risk. However this was quickly forgotten as public opinion began to turn as Apple’s decision to break user’s phones and tablets without warning became public. In the next update, iOS 9.2.1 released on January 19, 2016, Apple reversed this decision, allowing people’s devices to operate again. But not before many users had purchased new devices, and not before several investigations and lawsuits began to form.
One of these investigations came from Australia’s consumer watchdog, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). This investigation has now yielded results. In April of 2017, the ACCC began it’s legal fight against Apple. By this point, since iOS 9.2.1 had been released the prior year, Error 53 should have been a thing of the past. By now, it was known that Apple had violated Australian’s consumer rights under Australian Consumer Law which allows for a right to repair. But Apple was still not abiding by this.
In June of 2017 the ACCC conducted an undercover operation. In this operation, they were told 13 separate times by Apple retailers, that if a third party repaired an iPhone, that that Apple would bear no responsibility for the faulty devices. Upon being presented with this fact, Apple admitted to the fault, and began to offer users refurbished devices, which is still not in line with Australian law which entitles users to a new device. At this point, Apple will continue to offer a refurbished device, but if users know the law and request it, they can obtain a new device.
After this Apple fiasco, the Federal Court of Australia has fined Apple to pay AU$9 million (approximately $6.8 million USD). This is in addition to approximately 5000 customer’s which Apple has already compensated due to their illegal actions. $6.8 million is little more than a slap on the wrist for a company such as Apple, however there are still a great number of other lawsuits pending against Apple for situations such as this. Let’s hope at some point, Apple decides to simply make a competitive product instead of trying to squeeze every last dime from their current customers through questionable means.