Apple is being accused of over-charging customers for repairs and threatening third party shops that offer the same services for a fraction of the price.
Apple overcharges for repair services
According to a report by CBC news, customers would often enter the Apple store with minor hardware damages “such as a flickering screen” and would then be faced with hefty fees “because they are told they need to replace major parts of the device.”
Apple is known to waive its warranty if a customer’s device was repaired by an “unauthorized” party. Any repairs, according to Apple, should be done by an Apple store ‘genius’ (technician).
Jason Koebler, the editor-in-chief of tech and science site Motherboard, was not surprised by the report, and said it was not uncommon for Apple to overcharge its customers for repairs.
“I’ve broken my MacBook before and taken it to Apple and they wanted $700 to fix the screen. I ended up doing it myself for $50. This happens all the time.”
“There are many third-party people out there who can fix things that Apple won’t do because it’s not profitable to do it at scale, or Apple would rather replace it altogether. There are a lot of reasons why people wouldn’t want to become authorized and work, essentially, for Apple, when they can work for themselves,” he continues.
CBC News goes undercover
CBC News went undercover at an Apple store in Toronto, Canada, to determine whether the allegations were true.
“When presented with a MacBook Pro laptop that had a common issue where the screen was not displaying properly, an employee at the Apple Store responded by saying the device would need significant repairs at a cost of more than $1,200.”
“When asked if there was another reason for the damage to the computer or a cheaper alternative for the repair, the Apple Store employee said there wasn’t.”
“That cost is very close to the cost of buying a new computer,” the employee said. “In terms of fixing it in-store? No.”
Louis Rossmann, who owns an “unauthorized” repair shop in New York, took a look at the damaged computer.
He managed to find a disconnected pin which should have been connected to the Mac’s backlight.
The laptop seemed to function normally after Rossmann reconnected the pin, something Rossmann claimed nowhere near the $1,200 Apple asked for.
“If somebody wanted me to just bend the pin back, I wouldn’t charge them for that,” he said. If the pin was to be replaced entirely, Rossmann said the task would cost between $75 to $150.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the time, just bending the pin back, it’ll allow it to last until the end of the life of the computer.”
According to CBC, Apple did not provide a spokesperson to respond to this report, however, the company wrote in a statement that their customers are best served by Apple’s “certified experts using genuine parts.” The company does not overcharge for repair services.
Apple employs insidious practices and colludes with government institutions
The CBC report also suggests that Apple physically customizes its products’ hardware to deter devices from being easily repaired.
Some of these practices include “gluing batteries into place, using its own type of screws and reprogramming its operating systems to prevent unauthorized replacement of home buttons from working on its iPhones.”
Kyle Wiens, a lobbyist for the “Right to Repair” movement said that third party shops have to tread lightly when providing repair manuals online.
“Because Apple writes the manual, they own the copyright to it, so if you post that manual online, they’ll send you a legal takedown threat,” Wiens said, the fine can go upwards of $150,000 per incident.
“Those legal threats have really put a damper on repair information online.”
The report continues that Apple often collaborates with government institutions to seize cheaper spare parts from countries like China.
“Apple works with the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce its copyright and trademarks,” said Koebler.
“There was a case a few years ago in Florida where DHS raided a third-party repair shop and confiscated hundreds of iPhone screens and arrested the person.”
Apple maintains that its products should solely be serviced by its own experts. When third-party repair businesses like Rossmann’s published repair information online, they were threatened with legal action. It remains unlikely that Apple will waver from its stance anytime soon.