Despite the occasional positive development, Apple’s repair practices have largely spent the past year dominated by bad news, including reports of unreasonably triggered error messages and potentially illegal pre-repair requirements. Now Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC, has weighed in with its own video report on two of Apple’s “controversial business practices”: alleged overcharging for repairs, and using software updates to slow older devices’ performance.
While the latter issue was thoroughly vetted at the beginning of this year, including tense parliamentary testimony by Canadian Apple representatives in March, the allegation that Apple has been overstating repair costs hasn’t been aired as thoroughly. Specifically, the CBC said that it decided to investigate after receiving multiple complaints that Apple Stores were using high repair costs to push customers to instead purchase new devices.
Using an undercover camera, the CBC took a MacBook Pro into an Apple Store and — after a seemingly cursory diagnosis — was quoted $1,200 to repair whatever was wrong, a price that Apple noted would pay for most of another computer. Unfortunately, the diagnosis consisted of telling the reporter that the machine’s liquid sensors had been triggered, and that therefore basically everything inside the machine would need to be replaced.
When the CBC took the same computer to a third-party repair shop, however, the issue was diagnosed as a single bent video connector pin — an easy fix that the shop would make for free, or more permanently address for around $75. The repair shop mentioned that the liquid sensors could have been triggered by nothing more than humidity, and the proprietor had the computer back in full working order after less than two minutes of service work.
The “replace, don’t fix” practice appears to be at odds with Apple’s public statements regarding both environmental concerns and keeping devices functional. However, when asked for comment, Apple issued a statement saying little more than that consumers should prefer authorized repairs, despite the fact that its official option may persuade customers to scrap otherwise working devices rather than fix them.
CBC’s full video is available here, and worth seeing in its entirety. Apple has previously denied slowing down older devices to push replacements, one of multiple practices known as “planned obsolescence” for consumer products.