Tech giant Apple has landed in legal trouble with Australia's consumer watchdog initiating legal proceedings against the US-based company for refusing to repair Error 53-affected devices which have been previously touched by a third party repairer.
Error 53 appears when a device fails a security test. This test was designed by Apple to check whether Touch ID works properly before the device leaves the factory.
According to a report in news.com.au on Thursday, the Competition and Consumer Authority (ACCA) has sued the company alleging that the company made false, misleading, or deceptive representations about consumers' rights under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).
Apple "bricked" - or disabled with a software update - hundreds of smartphones and tablet devices, and then refused to unlock them on the grounds that customers had had the devices serviced by non-Apple repairers, the ACCA said in a court filing.
"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," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
The ACCC is seeking penalties of up to $1.1 million per breach, injunctions, declarations, compliance programme orders, corrective notices, and costs.
The move comes after an investigation into reports relating to "Error 53", which bricked some iPads or iPhones after consumers downloaded an iOS update.
The error is a result of change in connection between the "Touch ID" fingerprint recognition and other components of the device.
Many devices bricked by Error 53 were previously repaired by a third party and Apple refused to repair such faulty devices on the grounds that an unauthorised party had touched them.
"If the screen or any other part on your iPhone or iPad was replaced somewhere else, contact Apple Support about pricing information for out-of-warranty repairs," Apple Support team wrote on their official website.
ACL entitles consumers to certain free remedies if products do not comply with "consumer guarantees" around quality and suitability.
"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," Rod Sims, Chairman Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, was quoted as saying.