Australia's consumer and competition watchdog is taking Apple to court again. This time, it's over the Error 53 message that bricked iPhones with third-party screen repairs. The ACCC says its investigation shows Apple appears to have refused to look at defective devices repaired by a third party.
The ACCC says that under Australian Consumer Law, customers are entitled to warranty support free of charge if their goods don't comply with consumer guarantees — even if repairs have been made to a different and unaffected or unconnected component of the device by a third party. "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 third party, 'unauthorised repairers'. However, having a component of the Apple device serviced, repaired, or replaced by someone other than Apple cannot, by itself, extinguish the consumer’s right to a remedy for non-compliance with the consumer guarantees."
In its media statement, the ACCC says it's seeking a host of reliefs against Apple — "pecuniary penalties, injunctions, declarations, compliance program orders, corrective notices, and costs" — for this alleged overreach. The last time Apple and the ACCC were this clearly at loggerheads was in December 2013, again over consumer guarantees.
Error 53: The Timeline
'.Earlier today the Guardian reported on mounting "fury" over a mysterious "Error 53" appearing on iPhones repaired by unauthorised repair providers. The report includes a quote from an unnamed "specialist" journalist (whatever the hell that is) who claimed that Error 53 will "will kill your iPhone"..'
'.Following reports of bricked iPhones, Apple has confirmed that "error 53" is real — but it's not what is causing the bricking..'
'.Find any problem with an Apple device, and sure as carrion crows will rip the still-beating heart from a carcass, class action lawyers will assemble. So it goes with Error 53, the latest (non) issue to befall Cupertino..'
'.The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) has launched an investigation into whether Apple's Error 53 is in breach of consumer laws.
When the error code hit, effectively bricking iPhones, users initially thought it must be a bug. It was quickly revealed that the error is actually a security measure for the Touch ID fingerprint recognition technology. The error is activated when the phone is worked on by a third-party repairer using non-standard techniques or components..'
'.After weeks of insisting Error 53 brickings were the result of bad repair jobs, Apple is now saying that it was a big goof and that the brickings were never supposed to happen. Come on Apple..'
'.Apple has apologised to iPhone owners whose devices were disabled after succumbing to the Error 53 malfunction.
The company has also issued a software update that will reverse what until now has been described as an irreversible condition, one which blocked users from retrieving any data from their phones. Apple will reimburse anybody who was asked to pay for a whole new phone..'