Apple to let repairers in Australia and New Zealand sign up to spare parts program

Scheme expanded to 38 more countries as tech giant faces heat on the right to repair iPhones and Macs

Apple will allow independent repairers in Australia and New Zealand to sign up to a new program this week which will provide access to its tools and spare parts, as the company faces heat on the right to repair.

The countries are two of 38 included in the expansion of Apple’s independent repair provider program from later this week. The program is already available in the US, Canada and parts of Europe, with more than 1,500 independent repairers now onboard.

Repairers will get training from Apple, as well as access to Apple parts, tools, repair manuals and diagnostic software for the company’s iPhones and Macs.

The Productivity Commission is holding an inquiry on the right to repair in Australia, and received many submissions pointing out how companies like Apple are increasingly making it difficult for third-party repairers to fix phones.

Apple had begun using serialised parts which, when replaced by third-party repairers, send warnings to users about unofficial replacement parts when switched back on. Only authorised repairers with special diagnostic tools provided by Apple can fix stop these warnings. Repairers who are part of the independent repair provider program will have access to these tools.

Apple provided examples of repairers who have found the program of great benefit, such as Scott Baker of Mister Mac in Wimberley, Texas, who described the program as “a huge benefit”. But there have been criticisms – including claims the store audits repairers must sign up to are particularly onerous, and repairers can face fines for using parts prohibited by Apple.

Sam Walker, the founder and chief executive of Fix2U, told Guardian Australia that it was unlikely his operation could apply to be part of the program because Fix2U was an in-person repairer, not based in a store, but he said he was still sceptical of Apple’s motives.

“The sceptic in me would say that Apple is rolling out the service more broadly now, not necessarily because it’s been an unmitigated success, I think it’s more likely as a hedge against right-to-repair legislation,” he said. “Other countries have gained speed and of course in Australia we’ve got the Productivity Commission inquiry.”

Walker said the cost for replacement parts from Apple could be anywhere up to 10 to 15 times what repairers pay on the aftermarket, and repairers could only get Apple rebates on that if they sent back the faulty part to the company. If they use a non-genuine part it can’t be claimed.

“If you’re a small store in a rural area or service, and you could afford the whole process of constantly sending back parts to Apple and the logistics around that, maybe it might be something you want to consider, but the capital cities where people are expecting fast repairs and a variety of different types of repairs, I think under the program there is a fairly limited number of repairs that you’re actually allowed to offer.”

Later this year Apple plans to extend the program to 200 countries.


Josh Taylor

The GuardianTramp

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