It seems fair to say that Apple has never had an easy relationship with third-party iPhone repair services. So it’s good news that it’s expanded the provision of repair services by extending its Independent Repair Provider Program to more shops in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
A step forward
Just a few years ago, Apple fell afoul of regulators and consumer groups when it attempted to make life much harder for customers who had used independent repair service providers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took the company to court, and the ‘Right to Repair’ movement remains a vibrant force.
That’s hardly surprising.
After all, for a lot of people, officially sanctioned Apple repairs seem too expensive, which has prompted the appearance of smaller third-party iPhone repair services across the planet. It’s not rocket science to figure out why: Apple’s products are more expensive initially, but offer outstanding value across their life.
That means many people stretch their budgets on the initial hardware costs and may not have the means to fork out high prices for unexpected repairs. Apple has taken strides to make this a lot more available, including the iPhone Upgrade Scheme.
In 2017, I urged Apple to “figure out how to work positively with third-party shops,” rather than blocking the devices of customer’s who had repairs made at those locations.
This is what Apple seems to be doing.
Authorized repair shops
Apple began to improve its relationship with independent repair shops with the launch of the its Independent Repair Provider Program last fall. The scheme (Apple says) lets business of all sizes offer iPhone repairs using genuine Apple parts.
At one point in 2019, 80% of U.S. Apple customers were just 20 minutes from an authorized repair shop. This may have been impacted by the pandemic, but it is likely to remain similar.
Provision should have improved, at least on paper, as more than 140 independent repair companies in the U.S. have joined the scheme, with more than 700 new repair shops now offering approved Apple repairs. These include larger and smaller suppliers, including uBreakiFix.
To find a location, visit support.apple.com/repair.
It is important to note that Apple is offering a range of additional mail-in repair options during the COVID-19 crisis.
The repair scheme goes international
The company is also expanding the scheme internationally, inviting repair shops in 32 countries in Europe as well as Canada to join up. There is no cost to join and training is free for new business, but they must have at least one Apple-certified technician available to perform the repairs.
To qualify, repair shops must prove themselves to be an established business and offer a commercial walk-in service location – a residential address is not acceptable to join the scheme.
Apple has made information on new participating countries and how to join available here.
What Apple is saying
“We are thrilled to expand our independent repair program to more locations across the U.S. and to businesses across Europe and Canada,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer in a statement.
“When a customer needs a repair, we want them to have a range of options that not only suits their needs but also guarantees safety and quality so their iPhone can be used for as long as possible.”
What support do repair shops receive?
If a business is accepted to the scheme it will receive:
- Access to free training from Apple.
- Apple replacement parts.
- The same tools, repair manuals and diagnostics as Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) and Apple Store repairers.
Hopefully, as provision grows prices will shrink. Though it’s odd how that particular element of free market theory doesn’t always hold true.
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