Consumer watchdogs in Australia alleged that Apple has used a software update to disable, or brick, iPhones that had cracked screens repaired by 3rd parties.
According to court filings by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as many as hundreds of smartphones and tablet devices were rendered unusable by the software update — a situation Apple refused to rectify on the grounds that customers had had the devices serviced by non-Apple repairers.
“Consumer-guaranteed 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.
Apple has not yet officially responded to requests for comment.
The filing alleges that between September 2014 and February 2016, customers that downloaded software updates received a message saying their devices “could not be restored and had stopped functioning” when they attempted to connect the devices to their computers. When customers looked to Apple to repair the problem, Apple was less than sympathetic. “No Apple entity ... was required to, or would, provide a remedy” for free, the documents added.
The ACCC maintains that Apple engaged in “misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations to consumers” about its software updates and customers’ rights when it comes to device repair.
As well as fines, the ACCC said it was seeking injunctions, declarations, compliance program orders, corrective notices, and costs.