FAIR TRADING: You can get Apple to fix iPhone 'touch disease' for free

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Apple claims that the “touch disease” problem with its iPhone 6 Plus is not caused by a manufacturer’s defect but due to multiple drops on hard surfaces — so the company is charging $228.95 for repair for units that are out of warranty.

But can you prove that multiple drops is a reasonable occurrence in day-to-day use of a smartphone and not a “misuse”? Is there an expectation that a handset should withstand such impacts?

If you can, you can ask Apple to repair it for free, according to the advice from an Australian consumer protection agency.

Under Australian Consumer Law, all goods and services come with an automatic — or statutory — consumer guarantee that applies regardless of any manufacturer’s warranty.

NSW Fair Trading has stated that this consumer guarantee assures buyers that smartphones are of “acceptable quality” and “free from defects”. If these criteria are not met, consumers are “entitled to seek redress” even if the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.

Apple products come with a default one year warranty. The “touch disease” issue, which eventually sees handsets become unresponsive to touch, has been anecdotally widespread enough that one could argue the “drops” that cause the issue aren’t necessarily severe.

There have been past reports, according to Business Insider US, that Apple Geniuses have charged customers a lower repair fee for units that are close to the warranty expiry period, since they have known about the issue.

Apple also has a page detailing the statutory guarantee and the differences between it and its own warranty.

Have you had your iPhone’s “touch disease” repaired for less than the official $228.95 fee? Tell us how you did it.

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