Securepairs.org is quoted in a Fortune article about Apple’s partnership with BestBuy to offer repair at BestBuy stores. Our take: while good news in terms of access, it doesn’t address Apple’s anti-repair, anti-competitive practices.
Securepairs founder Paul Roberts was quoted in an article on Fortune.com on Apple’s announcement this week that it hasd finally sealed a deal with box store BestBuy to allow that company’s thousand-strong retail outlets to service Apple devices as part of the company’s AppleCare program.
The news, announced June 19, brings some relief to the millions of Apple customers who happen to live in parts of the country where Apple doesn’t operate one of its iconic stores (and Genius Bars). This includes the populations of the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming, none of which are home to an Apple Store. So the option of going to one of the almost 1,000 Best Buy stores to get your Apple gear serviced is a plus – its a repair option where none existed.
That said, there are important caveats to the good news. First and foremost: “authorized repair” as Apple defines it is a far cry from comprehensive repair of the type right to repair laws would allow.
Being an authorized repair provider for Apple means agreeing to abide by Apple’s repair policies and pricing. In short: you’re getting the same service in a Best Buy that you would get in an Apple Store, with the same denuded repair “decision tree” that, with a few exceptions (cracked screen, dead battery, etc.) leads to “replace/upgrade the device.”
I’m using an external keyboard because of an “authorized repair” facility that wouldn’t replace the keyboard without also replacing everything else in the case (>$3000 total with tax). Refused to do work, even though outside of warranty! Because “Apple policy.” 🐂💩🤬— Dave Dittrich (@davedittrich) June 20, 2019
As we know from groups like iFixit and from personal testimonials, there is a long, long list of conditions under which Apple refuses to repair one of their devices. That could be as simple as one of their moisture sensing stickers being the wrong color, or whole categories of repair (faulty logic boards, etc.) that they just “don’t do.” Depending on the “Genius” you’re talking to, they may attest that the repair is impossible, or just that they’re not allowed to do it. The message from the Genius Bar to Apple customers in those cases is “we can’t help you, but we can give you a new device!” That will be the message from BestBuy as well. That’s what it means to be an Apple authorized repair outfit.
Apple in its announcement doesn’t make any mention of all the repairs they refuse to do while they nudge (shove?) you towards a device upgrade or replacement. Instead they emphasize that they have “Apple Certified” technicians and “genuine Apple parts.” Those are the arguments that undergird their anti-repair position: that they train their techs to high standards and only use authorized parts, which they guarantee. What they’re not saying is that they don’t train their techs at all to do a wide range of common repairs, won’t employ professionals who do know how to do those repairs and refuse to make those high quality parts available to owners and independent repair shops to use.
Securepairs quotes to Forbes reflect this, with founder Paul Roberts telling the magazine that Apple adding BestBuy to its list of authorized repair providers “doesn’t actually address the core right to repair argument, which is to allow owners and independent repair shops, mom and pop repair shops, to do a full range of repairs on Apple devices.”
Apple’s clearly sensitive to the argument that it drastically constrains repairs on its devices by limiting the number of “authorized” repair outlets – BestBuy addresses that. Now its time for Apple to address the bigger issue: that its policies shut out owners and small business men and women from repairing Apple gear for reasons that have nothing to do with quality, safety or (cyber) security, but everything to do with the bottom line. So: long/short – nice try, Apple, but you owe your customers (and the planet) more than this.