Australia’s Federal Court has fined Apple for misleading iOS device owners over whether or not they were allowed to repair their devices.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the ruling from Australia’s Federal Court followed an action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), a government regulator, over the infamous “Error 53” issue which disabled some iPads and iPhones subjected to unofficial repairs.
Apple was fined $9 million in Australian dollars, which translates to $6.68 million in American dollars. The ruling concludes an ACCC suit filed last April.
iPhone 6 users first saw “Error 53” codes in early 2015, but the issue didn’t become widely known until early 2016 when media outlets began reporting about it. The ACCC lawsuit, which was related to the codes resulting from screen repairs from outside of the Apple Authorized Service Provider network, specified a timeline of September 2014 to February 2016.
The error appeared with devices that had had a Touch ID module, screen, flex cable or other water damaged components replaced by someone other than Apple or an authorized service provider.
Apple finally acknowledged the issue later on, sayin the message was linked to Touch ID security. Apple first told at least 275 customers in Australia that their devices could not be repaired if they had previously been repaired by an unauthorized third-party. Apple eventually offered repairs to 5,000 consumers who owned devices affected by the Error 53 issue.
“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 a statement. “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.”