At Apple’s town hall session today, Apple VP Tara Bunch announced a number of “after sales policy shifts” that Apple will implement this fall. Many of the changes referenced in the meeting were classified under the “One Apple” moniker, but it’s unclear if that is just an internal term or if it will actually be a marketed product come fall.
According to a source who wished to remain anonymous who spoke to AppleInsider,
“The biggest announcement, was the way repairs for iPhones will be handled soon… The way it is now, if almost anything is wrong with an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, the entire device is exchanged for a like-new re manufactured (sic) device, whether brought into an Apple Store or sent in for mail in repair. Now we are starting to actually repair the products and return the same device to the customer.”
As a consumer, I really like the current Apple replacement policy – I don’t have to wait for a repair and I walk out of the Apple Store with a brand new device within minutes. However, I can definitely see how such a thing wouldn’t be great for Apple as a company. As of now, Apple Stores are equipped to replace speakers, receivers, home buttons, vibrate motors, and batteries. In June stores will gain the ability to replace displays, and a month later Apple will make sure its stores will have the capabilities to repair cameras, sleep/wake buttons and logic boards.
And, for anything that employees still can’t handle in-store, they will now have access to diagnostic tools that will be able to remotely assess hardware issues and relay the data directly to technicians. U.S. customers will begin seeing this changes this fall, with international support rolling out shortly after. According to Bunch, these policy changes will save Apple about $1 billion per year!
Another topic of conversation at the town hall meeting was AppleCare. Apple changed the way AppleCare worked pretty recently with the advent of AppleCare+, but it seems the company is ready to alter it again. Reportedly, AppleCare will make the transition to a subscription model, attached to a particular customer rather than a specific product. If the rumors are true, this would mean that AppleCare subscribers are entitled to in-store training (kind of like Apple’s current One on One program) as well as “exclusive” 24/7 support. As of now, we don’t know about a full set of features or pricing yet, though.
And finally, if you’re not paying for AppleCare or in-store repairs, you’re still in luck. Currently Apple offers 90 days of free phone support for devices it sells. That could extend to at least a year, possibly even two, which would be great. Also cool is the fact that online support, knowledge base articles, online live chats and Genius Bar visits will continue to be free.