Apple Imposing Terms On Independent Repair Shops That Are Unbelievable

Last year I wrote about Apple starting up a program to give third party repair shops the right to repair iPhones using genuine Apple parts. At the time I said this:

So is this a step in the right direction? Maybe. We’ll have to see how this plays out. But make no mistake. Apple isn’t doing this because they want to do the right thing. They are doing this because they are more afraid of being forced to do the right thing.

Well, on top of my thinking that Apple is only doing this because they’re being forced to, comes this story from Motherboard. In the story, some of the contract terms that Apple makes makes third party repair shops agree to are mind blowing. Take this for example:

In order to join the program, the contract states independent repair shops must agree to unannounced audits and inspections by Apple, which are intended, at least in part, to search for and identify the use of “prohibited” repair parts, which Apple can impose fines for. If they leave the program, Apple reserves the right to continue inspecting repair shops for up to five years after a repair shop leaves the program. Apple also requires repair shops in the program to share information about their customers at Apple’s request, including names, phone numbers, and home addresses.

According to multiple individuals with knowledge of the program, businesses receive this contract after signing a non-disclosure agreement with Apple.

Clearly the non-disclosure agreement didn’t work because we’re talking about it now. Then there’s this:

While businesses that wish to join the IRP Program must be “Apple certified” too, they are required to display a “prominent and easily visible written notice,” both on their storefront and website, informing customers that they are not Apple authorized. Furthermore, IRPs must obtain “express written acknowledgement” from customers showing they understand they are not receiving repairs from an authorized service provider, which, as Nathan Proctor, a right to repair advocate with the US Public Research Interest Group put it, “is like going to a normal repair shop except one that advertises against [itself] at every possible moment.”

Talk about a chilling effect. Anybody who sees the notice and is shows a document like the one that is described that they have to sign to get repairs is going to turn around and leave. Likely to the nearest Apple Store where I am sure that they will be pressured into buying a new iDevice rather than repairing their current one.

Finally, there’s this:

The contract also states that repair businesses need to obtain written consent from their customers acknowledging that Apple won’t warranty the repair. In another section, Apple also disavows warranties “unless otherwise specified in the Independent Repair Provider Manual,” a separate document laying out the nuts and bolts of the program in more detail. In a copy of that manual shared with Motherboard, Apple indicates that it will allow businesses to return parts within 90 days if those parts are defective upon “first use out of the box.”

My head just exploded while I was reading that last paragraph as that is simply insane. And here’s the icing on the cake, Apple doesn’t deny any of this. Make what you will of that little factoid.

It seems to me is that Apple wants the terms of the contract to be so bad and so unpalatable that few independent repair shops will sign up for the program. And for the few that do, no consumer would ever utilize their services. Clearly Apple isn’t the least bit serious about giving the users of their products the right to repair said product if they so choose. Thus this whole program is nothing but a deflection strategy with the goal to deflect any sort of bad press regarding their stance on the right to repair. Which Apple is known to have lobbied to kill said legislation in Ontario among other places. I hope legislators all over Hell’s half acre are watching this and are preparing to not only hold Apple’s feet to the fire over this, but also force right to repair legislation down the company’s throat.

One Response to “Apple Imposing Terms On Independent Repair Shops That Are Unbelievable”

  1. Wow, that’s ridiculous! Can’t say I’m surprised though, given Apple’s track record in this area.

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