Apple Accused of Overcharging for Repairs in New Investigative Report

Apple Ipad Repair Credit: PRESSLAB
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Without active coverage under the terms of Apple’s one-year or extended three-year (AppleCare+) warranties, it can become incredibly expensive to service your damaged iPhone, iPad or MacBook Pro. 

And while a greater number of options exist for repairing older devices — such as by visiting a third-party authorized, or unauthorized, repair shops, which typically tend to charge less money — Apple strongly warns against the pursuit of these avenues, as they can be risky and potentially void your warranty..

In an interesting turn of events, a recent investigative report published by CBC News revealed that Apple’s not only been found to overcharge customers for the actual cost of repairs to its devices, but that the tech giant’s even threatened some third-party repair shops simply because they’re willing to service these devices for a fraction of the cost.

“Customers who enter an Apple Store with a seemingly minor hardware problem, such as a flickering screen, are often faced with a large bill because they are told they need to replace major parts of the device,” the publication notes.

A Common Problem?

CBC News interviewed Jason Koebler — editor-in-chief of VICE Media’s technology and science blog, Motherboard — who often covers Apple technology news in his daily work, and noted that this [price overestimation] is a common problem with Apple.

“I’ve broken my MacBook before and taken it to Apple and they wanted $700 to fix the screen,” Koebler said, adding that “I ended up doing it myself for $50.”

“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 pointed out.

Proof Is in the Pudding

To verify these findings and corroborations, CBC News used a hidden camera in hopes of documenting such an occurrence, and was luckily able to obtain video footage of being told their malfunctioning MacBook Pro was not worth fixing, even when when minor repairs could have easily remedied the problem.

For instance, when presented with a MacBook Pro which exhibited an issue where the screen was not displaying properly, an Apple Store employee caught on tape at the company’s Toronto location responded by saying the device would need “significant repairs at a cost of more than $1,200.”

When pressed if there were other possible explanations for the damage, or if a lesser-expensive alternative to fixing the issue was available, the employee indicated there was not.

“That cost is very close to the cost of buying a new computer,” the employee added. “In terms of fixing it in-store? No.”

CBC then presented the same MacBook Pro to Louis Rossmann — the owner of a small computer repair shop in New York City, which Apple would likely describe as “unauthorized.” Upon inspecting the machine, which the Apple Store in Toronto said would cost more than $1,200 to fix, Rossmann identified a pin which should have been, but was not fully, connected to the machine’s back-light panel.

Sure enough, after adjusting the pin with his bare hands, the issue appeared to be almost instantly resolved.

“If somebody wanted me to just bend the pin back, I wouldn’t charge them for that,” Rossmann said, adding that if they wanted to replace the pin, altogether, he wouldn’t charge in excess of $150.

Apple Bites Back

Apple declined to be interviewed by CBC News for this story, but denied any pattern of overcharging customers for repairs. 

When pressed for further comment on the Toronto Apple Store incident, as well as other allegations of misconduct, the company also declined — however in a statement released shortly thereafter, Apple not only claimed its customers are “best served” by its “certified experts using genuine parts,” but once again doubled-down defending itself against the accusations.

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