What if a company could use software to render its expensive products completely worthless to the owner, simply because those owners got their devices repaired by someone that didn’t work for that company? Doesn’t that smell like a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen?
It’s happening. The company is Apple, and a Seattle law firm is taking the tech company to task over its ugly “Error 53” incidents.
For the uninitiated, if you have your iOS 9 iPhone serviced by an unofficial repair service — an entity that isn’t Apple itself, or at least Apple-certified — Apple’s software may turn your phone into an inert $600 brick of electronic components. Affected phones display a fabulously Orwellian “Error 53” message, which sounds technical and serious, but merely means that Apple is doing its best to lock you into using its service centers over any others.
Once the error was deciphered this month, Apple has done nothing to make people aware of this shift in policy, which can apply to any phone running iOS 9. Now law firm PCVA is taking the company to task, filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of Apple customers foolish enough to seek affordable repair alternatives when their devices gave up the ghost in one form or another, only to see Apple’s software work as designed to deactivate the phone permanently.
Apple’s defense has been that Error 53 is a security measure, but that explanation smells of agricultural excrement, per lawyer Darrell Cochran, who asks in a press release, “If security was the primary concern, then why did the phones work just fine, sometimes for several months, without the software update? Error 53 only rears its ugly head when downloading a newer version of Apple’s operating system.”
We’ll certainly be following the case with interest. If history is to be any indicator, Apple better beware a lawyer with the last name of Cochran.