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Apple caught in Australian watchdog ‘error 53’ sting alleging staff misled customers over free repairs

Apple caught in Australian watchdog ‘error 53’ sting alleging staff misled customers over free repairs

Apple staff in Australia have allegedly been caught providing misleading information to investigators about their legal rights to a free repair or replacement for devices serviced by third-parties.

According to The Guardian, court documents show that an operation carried out by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission looked into the ‘error 53’ malfunction.

This is a message that occurred in phones with iOS 9 that had a fingerprint sensor replaced by a repair shop that hasn’t been licensed by Apple.

The issue is said to have affected devices between 2014 and early 2016, though Apple has since issued a fix to make any affected phones useable again.

Undercover sting

The ACCC launched an undercover operation to investigate the issue last year, and claims that it contacted 13 Apple retailers in Australia in June 2016 posing as iPhone customers.

After investigators claimed that their iPhone speakers were no longer functioning due to third-party repairs unlicensed by Apple, the ACCC alleged Apple employees then gave the same canned response to investigators that suggested they were not eligible for a free repair or replacement.

This is in contradiction with Australian law, which grants the right to free repairs or replacements for products that are faulty or of unacceptable quality.

For Apple’s part, it said these allegations were based on “hypothetical circumstances” and so it had not broken consumer laws.

Genuine customers, it said, would be given further details on outlining their rights in regards to products that are faulty or of unacceptable quality.


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Senior Editor

Craig Chapple is Senior Editor of PocketGamer.biz and InfluencerUpdate.biz. He was previously Deputy Editor at Develop and Online Editor at Nintendo of Europe.

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