I’ve only ever taken two devices back to Apple for repair. One was an ageing iMac that needed a new hard drive and the other was a MacBook that failed completely. In the first case, Apple replaced the hard drive at a price that was about 30% in excess of what I expected. The MacBook was fried and Apple replaced it completely with a new unit before the 12-month warranty period was up.
But a recent expose by CBC News in Canada has painted a less than stellar picture. Simple repair jobs are being over-charged with fixes that other repairers complete in minutes.
The reporters used hidden cameras when they took a defective MacBook Pro in for assessment at a Genius Bar. They were quoted almost the same cost for repairs as a replacement unit and pointed to Apple’s notorious moisture sensors as a possible root cause of the issue. But a third party repairer fixed the issue – which he diagnosed as a bent pin on a connector – in moments.
The report paints a damning picture of Apple’s repair processes and procedures. It is worth noting this is a specific situation. I’ve found service in Apple Stores is highly dependent on who you speak to. For example, I’ve had different answers to problems when I come a day later to the same store but talk to a different person.
Apple copped a $9M fine for the Error 53 issue by the ACCC and has recently been in the news as the new T2 chip, which is part of the TouchID system in the latest MacBook Pros, will only boot up if a diagnostic software called Apple Service Toolkit 2 that’s only available to authorised repair centres says the hardware is genuine.
This new capability hasn’t been enabled but is only a software update away if Apple gets its way in recent “right to repair” battles being fought in US courts.
Clearly, blocking third-party repairers and upgraders is a pretty low blow. I’ve had systems upgraded by experts, as well as switching in larger hard drives myself. Losing the ability to do that gives Apple further control over an increasingly controlled walled garden.
Have you been stung by a repair at a Genius Bar? Have you been surprised by Apple’s quote for a report or upgrade and found a third party fixes the problem for a lot less?