Rotten Apple has been hit with a record A$9 million fine. Why? It told Australian consumers that third-party iPhone/iPad/iAnything repairs would invalidate its warranty.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took Apple to task under the Australian Consumer Laws.

These are good laws every corporate citizen has to live by. We are lucky to have them – most countries don’t. Otherwise, the rotten apples in the barrel taint the good ones, ethics go out the door, and consumers are the losers.

It all started with the ‘error 53’ scandal. Apple says that if a third-party repairer fixed a touch ID sensor on an iPhone 6 or later, the warranty was void. The error made the phone worthless.

But this was the tip of the iceberg. Rotten Apple also made false declarations that any third-party repairs including screen replacements may invalidate the warranty.

Apple iPhone owners will loudly tell you that a) iPhone screens do break with amazing regularity and b) Apple charges a fortune to replace them. Third-party repairers do the same work for about 30% of the cost.

In fact, Rotten Apple knowingly and consciously withheld the repair codes to enable third-party repairers to fix and reset iPhones.

It also gave ‘old for new’ products as warranty replacements. A plethora of Apple customers state in forums that their shiny iPhone sans scratches and wear and tear were sent back with items that would not look out of place in a dog house.

The ACCC said Apple would commit to providing new devices as replacements if the consumer requests one.

“If people buy an iPhone or iPad from Apple and it suffers a major failure, they are entitled to a refund. If customers would prefer a replacement, they are entitled to a new device as opposed to refurbished, if one is available,” ACCC commissioner Sarah Court said.

Rotten Apple

The gist of the ACCC case is deception. But it points to desperation. Absolute desperation to keep the money machine intact.

“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,”  Court said.

“The Court said the mere fact that labelling did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply or the consumer’s right to a remedy being extinguished.

“The Court’s declarations hold Apple US, a multinational parent company, responsible for the conduct of its Australian subsidiary. Global companies must ensure their returns policies are compliant with the Australian Consumer Law, or they will face ACCC action.”