Apple Inc was yesterday taken to court by Australia’s consumer watchdog for allegedly refusing to look at or repair some iPads and iPhones previously serviced by a third party.
The tech giant “made false, misleading, or deceptive representations about consumers’ rights under the Australian Consumer Law,” the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said.
The proceedings, against Apple Pty Ltd and its US-based parent Apple Inc were brought on behalf of 275 consumers.
Under Australian law, each breach can attract a fine of up to A$1.1 million (US$830 million), although it is up to the court to determine the size of the penalty.
The case followed an investigation by the commission into reports users who had an error that disabled their iPads or iPhones after updating their operating systems were “routinely refused” by Apple to have their devices looked at or serviced.
These customers previously had their devices serviced by a third-party, “even where that repair was unrelated to the fault,” the government body said.
“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,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 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,” Sims said.
“[It] can dissuade other customers from making informed choices about their repair options, including where they may be offered at lower cost than the manufacturer,” he said.
Sims said companies must remember that consumer rights extended to software or software updates on goods they sell.
“Faults with software or software updates may entitle consumers to a free remedy under the Australian Consumer Law,” he said, adding that the commission was seeking remedies, including financial penalties.
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