Apple recently updated its customer support webpage with new instructions for people sending in their Apple Watch for repair. Apple is now warning people to remove their watch bands before sending the unit in for repair. If you forget, the watch bands will not be returned to you.
Apple previously advised people that they did not need to include the band, but was flexible with this policy. When a unit would arrive with other items like a band, case, or a charger, Apple would send these accessories back with the repaired watch when possible. The bands would not be attached, but they would be in the same package as the Apple Watch.
Apple’s new guidance on its “Get Your Apple Watch Ready for Service” page explicitly tells people to remove the band and not include any other accessories when they send in their unit for repair.
Your Apple Watch band and any other accessories that you send won’t be returned, so please remove them before sending your Apple Watch in for service. Learn how to remove your band. If you have a Link Bracelet band, remember to separate the links before you remove the band.Apple Support
These rules are especially important now that retail stores and, consequently, Genius Bars are closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The only repair option available to customers is Apple’s mail-in service.
Apple likely is dealing with a significant increase in its mail-in repair service, especially from people who usually would go to a store.
Those who typically visit a Genius Bar may not be accustomed to mailing in their device. They often send in all their accessories with the expectation that they will get them back. This isn’t always possible, especially when repair centers are overflowing with devices to fix.
It’s very easy for technicians to misplace accessories or confuse one person’s accessories with another’s. The best way to avoid this scenario is to ask people to only send in the watch unit and keep all the accessories safely at home.