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After conducting an undercover investigation, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s The National called into question Apple’s business practices and alleged that a Genius Bar employee gave an overpriced cost estimate for device repairs.
The video report shows an undercover customer at an Apple Store in Toronto requesting a repair quote for a “common problem,” aka a non-working screen on a MacBook Pro. After inspection, the Genius Bar employee concludes that the damage necessitates “looking at replacing quite a few components” and that the store “can’t do partial repairs.”
“Basically all the components we need to replace is gonna cost more than $1,000,” the employee says, citing the total cost to replace the logic board and top case as $1,100, plus $100 of labor. If the display needed to be replaced, that would be an additional $780.
Asked if there’s a cheaper alternative, the employee says, “That cost is very close to the cost of buying a new computer. In terms of fixing it in the store? No.”
But when Louis Rossman, a YouTuber and repair shop owner, evaluates the same MacBook Pro, he has a different diagnosis. He says the indications of water damage found by the Genius Bar employee could have been set off by humidity and that he would have been able to simply bend a pin as a short-term solution—for free. He estimates the replacement part for a long-term solution would cost from $75 to $150.
It’s understandable that a customer would be frustrated by this discrepancy. But a rebuttal from technology blog AppleInsider argues that Apple’s streamlined policies and procedures for handling device damage are ultimately better for customers across the board. Per AppleInsider:
The technician didn’t exhibit so-called ‘malicious compliance’ nor try to extort extra money out of the ‘customer,’ but did his job the way he was trained to do, followed the procedure the way he was supposed to, and performed at the level of experience he was expected to have.
Apple Insider goes on to assert that expecting a detailed, lengthy inspection from a technician with Rossman’s skill level in a Genius Bar appointment would ultimately be more time-consuming and possibly less cost-effective for Apple customers. The good news is that customers can choose whether to seek in-house repair for their Apple devices or go the third-party route (and the right to repair movement is trying to make the second option easier).
In a statement to the CBC regarding its allegations, Apple said customers’ best choice is getting repairs from “certified experts using genuine parts” and denied systematically giving overestimates for repair costs.
- New Macs have a software lock that prevents unauthorized repairs
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Kris Seavers is the IRL editor for the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.