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Australian consumer watchdog goes after Apple after iPhone ‘Error 53’ glitch

Back in February last year, Apple finally acknowledged ‘Error 53’, a Touch ID glitch that would brick iPhones and make them unusable. At the time, Apple did offer a workaround for customers but it seems that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wasn’t impressed with the whole situation and is now taking Apple to federal court citing a breach of consumer law.

The issue here is that Apple told some customers that it wouldn’t fix devices if they were previously repaired by a third-party/unauthorised vendor. Essentially, Apple wouldn’t honour its usual warranty. According to the ACCC (which has also sued Valve recently), this was a breach of consumer law as Error 53 made devices unusable by no fault of their own, entitling them to a free repair under Australian law.

ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, said that “consumer guarantees are not extinguished simply because a consumer has goods repaired by a third party”. He then went on to accuse Apple of “misleading and deceptive” conduct by refusing to fix phones previously repaired by unauthorised vendors.

This isn’t the first legal headache that Error 53 has caused for Apple, as The Inquirer points out, a barrister here in the UK has claimed that Error 53 could potentially be viewed as an offence under the UK’s Criminal Damage Act 1971. Previously a class-action lawsuit also attempted to get under way over in the US, though that did end up being unsuccessful.

KitGuru Says: Given that Error 53 was a software issue, it seems unfair of Apple to choose whether or not to issue a repair based on whether or not a customer went to a cheaper repair shop first. This does seem like the sort of policy that Apple should be fought on and have to change. 

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