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November 07, 2005

What's Your Warranty?

Cliff Edwards

So I went into an Apple store in San Francisco last week to replace an iPod I received in July.

Here's the context: It had been sitting in a cradle in my office, used only twice to record interviews. But when I fired it up last week for another interview, I got the sad face--the equivalent of the blue screen of death signifying a critical component failure.

Anyway, I moseyed up to the always-crowded Genius Bar and settled in for a long 45-minute wait. Sure enough, the resident genius told me, my iPod was dead. The good news, he said, was that I was well under the year warranty. I was surprised when he told me the even better news was that I also was within the six-month exchange period in which I would have to pay nothing.

My question is: when is a warranty not a warranty? I would think if you have a year warranty, if the device fails there should be a money-free exchange. Instead, I was told that since the store has to send the device back, you're paying the shipping fee and given some long gobbledygook about you getting a new iPod instead of having your old one repaired.

But why should I pay at all for a device that, through no fault of my own, suddenly fails--particularly if I'm led to believe I have a year warranty on it? The store did have replacement iPods in stock, so it wasn't as if they had to send for a replacement.

I had heard that if you order a replacement through the website that there would be a $30 charge for shipping, but why charge if you bring the device back to the store? Is it just me, or does this seem an odd policy for a company known for great service and cool, workable technology?

12:50 PM

iPod and iTunes

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You didn't have to pay anything to get your iPod replaced...what're you complaining about? Are you honestly complaining about the *possibility* of having to pay?

Even if you did have to pay to have it replaced, when is a (maximum, I'm assuming) $30 shipping/handling fee not more desirable than $300 for a new iPod?

...surely you've got something better to write about than point-picking with Apple Customer Service?

Posted by: Bill at November 7, 2005 03:24 PM

It's just you...

Haha, no I agree, it is ridiculous that you have to pay for the shipping. Totally unacceptable and I would get pretty mad if they would charge me for shipping for an item that is covered in a one-year-warranty.

Posted by: Bjoggi at November 7, 2005 03:44 PM

I don't want to disclose my identity, but I am an Apple retail employee on the east coast. Unless different stores have different policies on this (highly unlikely given how regimented everything here is), then you were misinformed. Under no circumstance does our store charge to replace a defective iPod that is still under warranty. First off, the repair part should be in stock at the store, but on the off chance it is not, we order one for you and call you to come pick it up when it arrives. Free of charge, no fees/shipping costs.

Posted by: anonymous retail employee at November 7, 2005 03:46 PM

I have a friend who has gotten 5 or 6 new ipods (in exchange for a broken one) in the last 9 months. Yeah, it broke that many times. She has never had to pay anything, and has always gone to the apple store to get them replaced. Policy greatly depends on what store your at and who you get help from.

Posted by: itsbetteronamac at November 7, 2005 03:55 PM

This is not necessarily an iPod or even an Apple specific policy. If you read the warranty that comes with just about any product, it will almost always state that the consumer is responsible for shipping charges. That's just the way it is and has been as long as I can remember.

However, you'll won't hear of these charges when it comes to computers. I assume in the specific case of the iPod, the charge is also there to compensate for a device with such low margins. Its easier to eat $30 on a repair for a $1500 computer than on a $300 iPod.

Posted by: StakkatoDot at November 7, 2005 04:02 PM

I work at an Apple Educational Resseler on a college campus. I have sold ipods since the 1st generation model. I agree it is not straightforward at all that after 6 months, YOU have to pay $30 dollars. However, for people that have gone through this process, it is so quick, you end up somehow being satisfied (clever Apple!)

Generally you get a shiny new iPod on your doorstep in a couple of days. this was my experience and other people's experiences as well. Yes, of course there are exceptions.

Again, I agree it isn't clear there's a $30 fee after six months, but I'd suggest most people are begrudgingly happy to pay!

And hey how about that it's not clear in the 90 days of phone support it's only 1 phone call?

I smell a couple more frivolous Apple class action lawsuits like the iPod nano screens!!! Just kidding. Really.

Posted by: Agent_E at November 7, 2005 04:11 PM

I live outside the US and Apple replaced my broken iPod mini, and i had to pay nothing.

Posted by: Chris at November 7, 2005 04:44 PM

Apple Store policy follows the warranty that is posted online and included with every iPod.

When we enter an iPod repair into the system, there's a ship date that we have to take a look at, in addition to the regular warranty end date. This date is 180 days after the fact. If the customer is out of these 180 days, a $31.90 processing fee is added to the quote. This is to cover actually taking the defective iPod, putting it in a box, sending it back to Apple, and recycling the unit. The same fee applies to iSights.

I usually do wave this fee for iPod shuffles though -- it's a bunch of BS to pay $31.90 for a $99 unit.

The policy is the same at all Apple Retail Stores; however, your friend who had 5-6 new iPods would fall under a "repeat repair" clause. In this case, if the replacement iPod failed within 90 days of receiving a new unit, the warranty would still cover it. That means that even if your warranty is technically expired, you can still get it serviced. You would not have a fee incurred.

Also, it should be noted that if you have Applecare for iPod, there is no processing fee for 2 years from the date of purchase; most people who are out of the 180 days and are looking at a $31.90 fee pick up AppleCare for $59. It covers the processing fee, extends the warranty for a year, and eliminates the possibility of a processing fee.

Posted by: Another Retail Genius at November 7, 2005 05:49 PM

I too was shocked to find out that the standard 1 year product warranty has been manipulated by APPLE in the fine print that people usually don't pay attention to. Our iPod Mini been slowly failing at month#5 since purchase and failed completely at month#7. We are shocked and dismayed of the sneaking $30 precessing fee to replace a defect iPod battery.

Yes, I think that another Class Action is in order to force Apple to own up to shoddy quality.

Posted by: JustMad at March 2, 2006 06:17 PM

I agree with the author of the article and am glad somebody else agrees this is poor. I have owned numerous Apple products and have been a consistent Apple supporter for years (I even started and ran a Mac user group around 12 years ago) and have always found Apple's warranties to be superb... Until now. I was extremely disappointed to learn of the shipping charge when my 5G iPod went south. I haven't sent it in yet, but even though, through no fault of my own, I need to pay simply to have Apple replace a defective iPod they sold me. When Apple originally started depot service for their iBook line, they didn't make the customer pay for shipping.

Other companies may do this, but Apple has always stood behind their products. Not anymore I guess. (Never mind the fact that the SE/30 I have in my closet still boots, but the iMac G5 seems to be unbelievably flaky. Declining quality.)

Posted by: Jeremy Kalanuk at July 27, 2006 10:13 PM

I for one am pretty satisfied with the warranty and Apple's service. Admittedly, I thrashed my 5G ipod during the first 9 months of use including dropping it hard at least 20 times and stupidly taking it to the beach which resulted in serious scratches all over the screen. When the hard drive died, I took it in to the apple store and they did not even question me about its exterior condition and gave me a replacement with the extended warranty, as discussed by another commenter above, for $59.00. For me it was a pretty good deal.

Posted by: frijole at October 25, 2006 04:47 PM

I purchased my ipod 6 months ago. Recently it would play through the music of a selected artist and then would stop playing until I reset it. When I had it plugged in to the Ipod jack on my Scion, the number "1" would start flashing and the only way I could get the ipod to start working again was disconnect it and plug it back in. It started happening every time I wanted it to play any single artist.

I took the ipod back to Best Buy, they sent it in for service and after 2 weeks called to tell me it was ready to be picked up. I was told that there was "no problem with the unit" and was charged $25.00. When I objected to the charge the sales person suggested that I purchase a better warranty. From my understanding the ipod came with a 1 year warranty. I had a problem with it, sent it back and was charged $25.00. To me, this is a rip-off.

Michael P. O'Connor

Posted by: Michael O'Connor at October 28, 2006 07:34 PM

So... would anyone know what to do with a hardware-damaged 4GB iPod Mini? I was shocked when it broke... brought me to tears. I payed $200 and I loved the stupid thing to death... it fell on the floor and that was the end. Hardware's busted. What would Apple do if I took it in to them? Could I possibly get an exchange along with paying for a Nano or something? Do they have any use for the Mini's parts??? My warranty's waaay expired- 4 months ago- what should I do??

Posted by: Sarah at November 19, 2006 06:23 AM

Im in Australia. My Macbook harddrive died after only 6 months and apple gave me 3 ridiculous options. 1 Pay $1500-3000 for data recovery. 2 Pay $250 for a new harddrive so I can keep my old harddrive. 3 Lose my old harddrive and my previous data to get a free warranty harddrive replacement. Oh and I had a Ibook that died a month after the 1 year warranty expired.

The $300 extended warranty is obviously worth jack if apple treats its customers like crap.

Posted by: Ttttttt at December 8, 2006 09:24 PM

I just returned from getting a "new" iPod. I purchased an actual new one 3 months ago. The hard drive failed. The "Genius" first accused me of having dropped it in water. I explained what he was looking at was a bubble under the protective film. He skeptically agreed to look at it. He agreed the hard drive was shot I gave me a $129 refurbished unit as a replacement. So I basically paid Apple's expensive, full price for a refurb. To top it all off, when I asked for the protective film from the defective iPod, he grudgingly peeled it off and threw it on the counter in front of me where it picked up all kinds of debris.

Posted by: disappointed at March 14, 2007 03:51 PM

my ipod movie just dead in no reason, but i only have it less than 1 month, i am very dispointment, hope i can get replacement in store, otherwise i will require refund, i really disappointe with the apple's Warranty, and the extremely delicate products.

Posted by: luwanna at March 29, 2007 05:18 AM


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