Apple claims it’s losing money on repairs. Right to repair groups and other critics call B.S.
So, what’s the deal?
This whole thing started with Apple testifying to the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. During the remarks, which were crafted by Apple VP of Corporate Law, Apple insisted that over the past decade, they have spent more money than they’ve earned on repairs.
The trouble is, when you look at the official Apple repair costs (which are upwards of $329 for a screen repair!), it can be hard to see how the company could possibly be hemorrhaging cash.
Now, it’s true that AppleCare warranties might be contributing to a dip in revenue. With a warranty, users pay far less out of pocket for repairs. Matthew Gault from Motherboard provides an additional frame of reference, pointing out that many repairs and replacements have come from poorly designed keyboards on some Macbooks. In these cases, the broken keyboard can’t be fixed, so the company has been forced to replace many of these free of charge.
Regardless of how the revenue dip is occurring, though, there’s another reason critics cry foul – Apple’s restrictive repair policies.
Apple frames its insistence that users come to Apple verified locations to fix their tech as a way to keep people safe. The company argues that individuals trying to fix their phone on their own, for example, could risk dangerous results, including an exploding iPhone! While this is a possible outcome, however, some people believe the risks don’t have to be so high.
“We’ve replaced hundreds of batteries and screens for legislators while they watch…these repairs aren’t rocket science,” retorts Gay Gordon-Bryne, executive director of Repair.org. Part of the reason Apple’s products are more difficult to repair is because they often withhold parts and information, making it harder for customers to make the repairs themselves.
In fact, Apple has even released software updates rendering touch screens replaced by third parties as inconvenient or even unusable.
Those who believe in the right to repair – meaning customers should be able to fix and modify their purchases if desired – have railed against Apple for years and this current controversy is no exception.
Nathan Proctor, Right to Repair Chief at the US Public Interest Research Group, succinctly explains the situation: “Apple wants their customers, and the federal government, to accept the notion that while a repair monopoly exists, it’s a beneficial monopoly, made for our good.”
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