June 18 (UPI) -- A federal court in Australia fined Apple $9 million for telling Australian iPhone and iPad users the company wouldn't fix their devices if they'd previously been repaired by a third party.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission brought the court action against Apple after it investigated complaints that the company had refused repairs to some customers whose devices had been disabled after downloading an update to Apple's iOS operating system due to an error known as "error 53."
The ACCC said Apple told at least 275 Australian customers affected by error 53 they weren't eligible to repair or replace their devices because they had previously had them repaired by a third party for other issues.
"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. Apple's representations led customers to believe they'd be denied a remedy for their faulty device because they used a third party repairer," ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
In court, Apple stated the claims that the devices couldn't be repaired were made from February 2015 to February 2016 on its U.S. website by Apple Australia's staff in-store and on its customer service phone calls.
"The court declared the mere fact that an iPhone or iPad had been repaired by someone other than Apple did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply, or the consumer's right to a remedy being extinguished," Court said.
After the ACCC notified Apple about its investigation, the company extended an outreach program to about 5,000 consumers whose devices were made inoperable by error 53.
Apple Australia also offered to improve staff training, as well as investigate and improve its information and systems to comply with the Australian Consumer Law.