Case brought against Apple in Australia by ACCC.

Consumer protection laws are tricky, and as such they can vary widely from one international market to another. Apple is learning that the hard way after investigators in Australia claim the company violated the protections already in place for the public.

Investigators posed as Apple customers and called each of the country’s retail outlets for help with an issue following the supposed replacement of the devices’ screens by a third-party retailer. In Australia, it’s illegal for a company to void the warranty on a device due to prior repair, whether performed by their authorized dealer or not. However, in these instances, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) found that Apple employees refused to repair the device if it had been worked on before.

 

‘Hypothetical’ scenario

For its part, Apple claim that the allegations are unfounded since they pertained to ‘hypothetical’ service calls and not actual consumer complaints. However, Apple has already been accused of a shady software update that rejects the owner’s Touch ID input if the screen is not the originally supplied screen. The tech giant has already had to issue a software update that remedied that alleged error. In the case of the ACCC’s complaint, though, the issue was much broader and unrelated to the screens; the calls to Apple stores were regarding speaker malfunctions rather than anything related to the newly replaced screen.

Differing approaches

It’s interesting that different global markets have different approaches to consumer protection like this. In the US, for example, a company can certainly state – so long as it does so initially in the terms and conditions – that any third-party “tampering” will void the warranty. In the case of the claim against Apple stores in Australia, the ACCC is already pursuing legal action against the company. Apple denies any wrongdoing and has issued a statement to that effect.