The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has taken Apple Inc. to court over alleged consumer warranty misrepresentations.
The consumer watchdog claims that Apple's move to completely "brick" or disable phones via an online update infringes on consumers' rights.
Apple allegedly disabled thousands of iPhones and iPads that were repaired by third party firms earlier in the year. The process was done through a software update, which also verified if the hardware on the devices was changed in any way. This was a particular problem for users who had their cracked screens replaced by other companies other than Apple.
According to Reuters, the complaint also included Apple's outright refusal to unlock the bricked devices due to the fact that they were serviced by non-Apple technicians. Apple had charged $228.95 to repair iPhone screens out of warranty. Due to the steep price of an official Apple repair, a large number of consumers have sought help elsewhere.
Rod Sims, ACCC chair, recently released a statement and explained that under the Australian Consumer Law, Apple does not have the right to deny its consumers rights simply because they sought repairs from a third party company. The statement also clarified the Australian Consumer Law "exists independently of any manufacturer's warranty."
According to the ACCC website, the consumer watchdog is taking the tech giant to Federal Court and is seeking fines, corrective notices, and injunctions for their recent actions. Apple currently does not provide any replacements or free repairs for phones that have been affected.
Sims said denying a consumer his or her consumer guarantee rights simply because he or she 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.
"As consumer goods become increasingly complex, businesses also need to remember that consumer rights extend to any software or software updates loaded onto those goods. Faults with software or software updates may entitle consumers to a free remedy under the Australian Consumer Law," he said.