Apple has been fined AUS$9 million ($6.6 million/£5 million) for misleading Australian consumers about their right to get faulty iPhone and iPad devices repaired.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took legal action against Apple and on Tuesday announced that the Federal Court ordered the company to pay the fine.
The action was sparked after an investigation into complaints by consumers about an “error 53” that disabled their iPhones and iPads after they downloaded an update to Apple’s operating system.
An ACCC investigation found that 275 people were told by Apple that they were not entitled to a have their devices repaired or refunded if they had previously been serviced by a third party.
Specifically, the iPhones and iPads of those affected were displaying an “Error 53” warning, which is reportedly triggered by unofficial repair shops replacing the connector that runs from the Touch ID sensor in an iPhone’s home button.
“If a product is faulty, customers are legally entitled to a repair or a replacement under the Australian consumer law, and sometimes even a refund,” said ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court.
“Apple’s representations led customers to believe they’d be denied a remedy for their faulty device because they used a third-party repairer.”
In its statement, the ACCC said Apple compensated 5,000 people impacted by the “Error 53” message. The company has also agreed to improve staff training, audit information about warranties, and notices about Australian consumer rights on its website.