/ Shopping, Technology

Is Apple’s own repair service a rip-off?

A broken red apple

Apple iPod stuck on repeat? iPhone all hung up? Maybe your iPad is more a case of iWon’t? But why should we pay Apple so much for an official branded repair, when we can get the same fix for less elsewhere?

Like many big brands, if your Apple gadget flatlines, you’ll probably turn to its in-house repair service. And while the gadget medics will put your iDevice on life support, it’s likely you’ll pay through the nose for the privilege.

Apple’s official repair service isn’t cheap – and using it feels a little like being forced to use private health care.

Shop around for a better deal

Of course, you could find a cheaper option, but letting a repair shop that’s not approved by Apple tinker with your iPhone could lead to warranty problems.

Yet the prices are revealing: it can cost nearly £140 to get an iPhone fixed with Apple (or £146.29 for its mail-order service), compared to just over £40 for a similar repair from the non-Apple route (£45 to replace water damaged parts for example). Ouch – and it’s enough to make you sick.

Apple’s in danger of being seen to rip-off its customers. The company – and other electronics manufacturers – are using a worrying mark-up for the ‘privilege’ of their official repair services. So, not only do you have to pay a huge price for the latest iPhone, if it goes wrong (like the screen cracking) Apple is willing to lift an extra hundred notes from your pocket.

And if smaller repair shops can resurrect an iPod for much less, Apple needs to explain why it gouges consumers for going through its official channels. The materials used and the time spent are similar, if not identical, surely.

High repair price to force re-buy?

Maybe it’s a case of brand reassurance? Perhaps shoppers, having paid a princely sum for their beloved iPhone, are unwilling to trust anyone but Apple with repairing it. Fair enough, but could Apple have a more sinister motive?

By charging a high price – and Apple isn’t alone in its approach – could it be actively putting people off getting a repair to sway them towards a new model?

High cost repairs certainly make sense for the brands themselves, but for everyone else it pays to shop around. At least get various quotes before handing over your gadget – and hard-earned cash – to official repair services.

Emily says:
17 August 2010

Not only that, but in-house Apple repairs also take forever… I just got my MacBook back yesterday after they spent more than two weeks repairing cracks in its casing. This is a known fault for my model, so the repairs were free… but having to go without my laptop for a fornight was far from ideal. Especially as when I dropped it off the clearly clueless Apple employee said it would take a week to fix (and at the time I’d thought that seemed unreasonably long for a known fault that is fairly straightforward to fix)… I will not be taking it back to Apple for any future repairs, that’s for sure.

renata says:
2 February 2011

I love apple , I love them so much that’s evrything who will get the brand apple I will never buy again !!!. I’ve got a years old iphone 3 g after 11 months something got wrong . the iphone shut down automatically and I had to press the home button and the sleep button together to start it again . I send my iphone to applecare and this is the answer :

“Your IPHONE 3G has been inspected by Apple technicians, who have determined that it has been subjected to accidental damage or misuse, which is not covered by the warranty, the AppleCare Protection Plan, or other Apple repair program. Therefore your original product is being returned to you unrepaired. You should expect to receive it within two business days along with a letter that gives details of this assessment. ”

I call the customers department , two options was offer to me :
-£146 to change the iphone completly for a new 3g iphone ( who will maybe get the same problem after a year)
-to discuss with a technician from apple in leceister (uk) that I am not happy with them diagnostic

please note that apple didn’t offer me any repair for my old iphone or any cost for a repair !!!
I like the word “accidental damage or misuse” okay .. it’s like you speak to one doctor :
patient : I am sick doctor
doctor: let me to give you a diagnostic
patient : ( 2 days later)
doctor : hum… definitely you are sick
patient : so what’s my sickness doctor??
doctor : I don’t know but you are definitely sick
apple is doing the same , they accused me of accidental dammage or misuse but they are not capable to tell me what I have done and I swear I done nothing wrong to my iphone

John Dickson says:
17 August 2010

I have been pleased with my MacBook Pro since migrating from PC this April. I moved becasue I had a sense of Apple being the kind of company that is evolutionary. This is certainly true of its products, but despite its success and growth, it is sad to see such an organisation to be so un-evolved that it feels the need to fleece its loyal customers with pricey add ons, maintenance/repairs and dare I even mention the immaturity of its handling of the iPhone 4 . I think Apple’s leadership is missing a trick – to position Apple as a customer-enlightened organisation. I wonder if this is what is now beginning to disappoint its followers. We all hoped and deserve more. As history shows, if an organisation can’t evolve it’s customers lifetime experience it will eventually be replaced by someone who will – and being big in the market isn’t protection. It’s just part of the process of evolution.

You Can get your Apple iPhone insured for 2 years for £63 with Apple. This is much cheaper than the £15 per month that I know at least 2 people, known to me have. They signed up for it when they got the phone from the O2 shop. If you register Apple computers with them you have a 90 day warranty. I admit that the 3 year Apple guarantee based on the value of your computer is very steep.

I’ve used Apple’s repair service a couple of times – both under warranty. First time (several years ago) was pretty good, though it did take a little longer than I would have expected. Second time was brilliant – very friendly, helpful person on the phone, replacement part (mains adapter) arrived in the post the next day. Couldn’t ask for better!

Patryk says:
17 August 2010

I’ve had great success with AppleCare repairs. My MBP stopped working; I took it to an “authorised service provider” and had it back two days later, with no charge for the repair.

Rob Sammons says:
17 August 2010

This article isn’t correct if you take an iPhone out of warranty either the 1 year or 2 year apple care then they will charge you £140 to completely replace your phone, this is the same as water damage. I’ve seen it happen before at my local genius bar.

Also apples mac repair service has given me £2000 pounds worth of issues with an iMac and Macbook Air it cost me a 10th of that to cover

George Allen says:
17 August 2010

Just before Xmas my 2 year old MacBook Air screen hinges broke – the screen came totally detached. I took it to the Bluewater Apple store, and three days later it was ready for collection, cleaned and repaired… totally free. Yes, I’d bought a warranty; why doesn’t everyone? Oh, and a while back my (old!) 500gig TimeCapsule stopped working; the warranty on my MacBook covered it; and Apple gave me a NEW one!

I really, really appreciate Apple’s repair service.

Peter Skellern says:
18 August 2010

At one time you didn’t need to buy warranty extensions on Apple products as they were so well made and reliable. Looks like things have changed…

I refer to the last comment byPeter Skellern about apple products being well made. I bought an ipod toch in late Feb this year after 4 weeks the battery decided not to hold the charge and was replaced by the retailer because I liked the product. The replacement was worse than the original it crashed virtually every day though the battery held the charge. Abroad this year in mid June the battery started acting up by going flat if left on standby. Off I went to the local genius bar at the Apple shop which was a wednesday afternoon they said a software upgrade might cure the problem which I agreed to. That worked for a day, then the same problem occurred so back I went and they repaced it. At present it works fine, I shudder to think what apple would charge if it goes faulty after the 12 months are up.

Just to be clear here, the Applecare plan only extends the warranty with defects etc. It does not cover you for accidental damage. You’ll need to get a third party insurance policy for that. In the same way, the insurance policy won’t cover you manufacturing defects.

I have both the Applecare and third party policy. I’m covered 🙂

Will ryan says:
20 January 2011

I have my ipad currently in krcs apple store in the uk because of a pressure crack, it’s still in the basic one year warranty as i got it in august so it’s all good i hope, but how much would it cost to repair? I’ve searched everywhere for the actual repair price but it’s nowhere :S can someone tell me please? Cheers

Well ….. This is interesting.

The reason I never went with apple years ago was I preferred the build and mechanical design of the Generic PC – I’ve built a few from scratch – many items were easily replaced with generic parts at low price – they could usually also be cheaply upgraded. The Apple did have better graphics – but not sufficiently better.

The reason I gave up on the old BBC was the inability to repair easily

My mum always told me ‘an Apple a day keeps the Doctor away’ 🙂
I love Apple and am definitely a devotee. I can put my hand on my heart and say one of the main reasons I love my Apple products is because I’ve never had any problems with them and find them very reliable.
Perhaps my own little idiom could be ‘An Apple a day keeps the repairman away’ ?? 🙂

renata says:
2 February 2011

just get a new answer to my email :

Dear Renata,

Thank you for your reply.

We do not guarantee the Leicester store will grant you a free replacement, however, we do recommend you still set up a Genius Bar appointment with them to see if any exception may be made.

Visit the following site to set up an appointment time online:

dave c says:
21 May 2012

On y new iphone 4s, less that 30 days old, I cracked the screen. The Apple store told me $200 for a new phone and Applecare for another $100. I went to a repair shop in Brooklyn, Inson on Avenue O. They repaired the glass and LCD, like new, for $60.00 tax included. Apple told me the phone was not repairable. I suspect that Apple charges for a new phone, says it unrepairable, then takes the broken phone and repairs it for resale or someone else’s warranty. What a rip-off!!!!!!

Get it repaired elsewhere and make Apple change their unethical practices; I found those guys on e-bay and it was close so I drove over from Staten Island.

charlie says:
23 May 2012

I must say how shocking apples repair policy and more importantly their ludicrously high prices are. Iv been apple fanatic ever since the launch of the first I pod, given my clumsiness have had to seek out many repairs. To begin with i went through apple but soon moved to independent repair specialists, i have had far better and cheaper service from these. Most recently i have been using Rotten Apples, whose prices are extremely reasonable for the great service they offer.

[Hello Charlie, we’ve edited your comment as we don’t allow promotion. Thanks, mods.]

Bloubum says:
31 July 2012

Do any off you remember a time where there was no extended warranty. EXTENDED WARRENT?!?!?! Give me a break. Not to mention apples over inflated prices. Besides the topic is not about getting an over priced product with an over prIced extended warranty. It’s about paying for an over priced repair. All the money I saved not buying those warranties, I saved enough to buy another over priced ripp off Mac pro. It’s the same as with most companies. Success means they always have to find ways to make even more money to feed public market on the stocks. Get a load of Mountain Lion not working on 5K Mac pros and at the same time they speak of being environmentally friendly. Microsoft makes its money based on how many computers their OS will run on while apple makes their low prIced OS cause they want us suckers to buy new over priced computers. In any other industry, this is called a conflict of interest and I don’t understand why there are no laws preventing planned obsilence. Please don’t argue about the quality cause I know this. But it’s not that reason their prices are so high for EVERY THING. it’s their bottom line.

Lomax says:
19 August 2014

I had the following occur to me repairing a Macbook air at the apple store in White city, London.

Macbook Air
problem: not starting up
diagnosis of problem from apple store took 7 days
apple diagnosis: screen needed to be replaced. quoted cost £388
(Notebook cost me £1,100)
So they called me up and I said please go ahead with the repair. I heard nothing from them for 2-3 weeks. Then I chase it up and find their call centre systems were down(slightly ironic). As I am a very busy person I chased them the following week to try and see the status of my repair. I am away on business for the next 2 weeks. Finally I get hold of the Apple white city store after 5-6 weeks. They tell me the the laptop is ready and total cost is £388. Ok its been a long wait but its as per the quote. I arrive at Apple store to collect repair and it turns out they haven’t repaired it. They had the arrogance and audacity to say it was my fault and that they wouldn’t accept any responsibility. I was literally shocked. I asked for the complaints department. They said they didn’t have one and that all complaints were dealt with internally in-store. Again this highlights the arrogance of Apple. No complaints department and no acceptance of responsibility if they are at fault. The head of repairs did however concede that I did not receive great service. When I asked him numerous questions he wasn’t forthcoming with any information but referred me to their legal department. Clearly they believe they are perfect and don’t make mistakes. So out of frustration I ask them to go ahead with the repair and replace the screen. They wouldn’t even offer a discount on the quoted price. This they said would take another 5-7 days. Again this seemed excessive. After leaving Apple white city and as an afterthought I thought to check to see if someone else can do this cheaper. And I received a quote for nearly half the cost from a certified mac dealer. So I decided to cancel the repair at Apple store, White city. I called the next day and asked them to cancel the repair. Apple white city said that this would be fine and you could come and collect it on Monday. I asked for an email confirming that repair was cancelled and would not be carried out. I needed something to cover my back in case they made another mistake. They said they couldn’t provide this. So I asked for some sort of confirmation. The lady on the line said she would call me back within the hour to confirm that the repair had been cancelled. Yes she called me back and confirmed repair had been cancelled via voicemail. Then over the weekend I get another voicemail from apple saying that it turns out your laptop problem is not the screen but it is the motherboard. This will be £100 cheaper. Please let us know if you wish to go ahead with this repair, otherwise you can collect this on Monday. Obviously they had realised I had gotten a cheaper quote elsewhere as my laptop needed to be repaired. So I turn up at Apple white city store on Monday to collect. And guess what? Not only had they gone through with the repair to the motherboard but they charged me more than they had quoted me on the voicemail over the weekend. I was furious. So not only have they gone against my instruction, they have misdiagnosed the problem and it cost me more than they quoted. So I ask the apple store what are my options: they say they can reverse the repair in half an hour. But then I question why I have been charged fro 3 hours labour when it takes 30 minutes to replace the motherboard? The apple person couldn’t answer my question. Fed up I paid and left.

I think the moral of the story is that apple repair is a scam I would avoid it at all costs. I think apple the company is a scam to make as much money as possible through planned obseletion and repair channels that are monopolised or abused. I am sure they abuse other revenue channels as well. They do after all pay little of no corporate tax in the UK. Absolutely fed up with this company.

My iPhone is 6 monthes old there’s problems with it but wen im in apple store some times the problems dosnt happen so they tell me they have to see it happen and they won’t help me

I agree with many of the comments here. Let me make it clear that I am an absolute Apple fan. I have had good treatment and bad in equal measure from Apple stores over the years. Their warranty repairs are great but repair charges are often higher than you might expect.

Now let me tell you that as an Apple user since the 90s, I was an early adopter. Support for the brand in the UK was difficult to find – there were no Apple stores and no online services either. To get machines repaired was a DIY affair. But look inside most machines and the componentry most likely to fail is pretty much cross-platform and so readily available.

Over the years I have been the ‘go to’ person for Apple support in the various advertising and design businesses I have worked in. So in the period since I first pulled a Mac apart and now, I have become pretty adept at fixing and upgrading hardware, making upgrades and generally servicing these excellent machines.

So much so that I now run an Apple support business covering London and the South East. We’re called A&E IT aka AdamAndEveIT. I’m not sure I can post links but if you google ‘Mobile Apple Repairs Tunbridge Wells’ you’ll find us.

We’re not an ‘authorised’ repair shop. Apple no longer allows me to pay to become authorised. And being ‘authorised’ allows Apple to place restrictions on what we can and can’t do. That prevents us from being the business we want to be and restricts the services we offer our clients.

On the flip-side we don’t have access to official Apple parts because Apple doesn’t allow it. But as I said earlier, the most common failing parts are pretty proprietary. Any others we source from a plethora of recycled parts sellers or draw from our own resources.

So my advice to Apple owners having problems is simple. If it’s under warranty take it to Apple. If it isn’t then seek out an independent repairer and check out their Google reviews. If they are good and they find a fault that requires a service that can only properly be provided by Apple – like a liquid damaged logic board for example – they will always advise you take it to the Genius bar for an authorised repair that retains your serial number. Having this type of repair done by an unauthorised repairer could be temporary and will blank out your serial number and potentially lock you out of official repairs in the future.

The recent furore over iPhones and ‘Error 53’ is a perfect example of this.