Apple says it's been losing money on its repair programs

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  • Reply 21 of 41
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,956member
    sflocal said:
    rain22 said:
    Well if that doesn’t scream failed design... Funny that it coincides with 10 years of ‘ZERO’ from ifixit.
    What a load of crap.

    Apple's hardware is more reliable than ever.  Nothing is 100% perfect flawless so stop making it sound like it's something it's not.

    99% of people will NEVER open up their iDevices after purchase.  FACT.  We can debate the merit of soldering certain components until the stars burn out.  From an engineering perspective, it makes perfect sense to design a product for that 99% of the consumer market and remove unneeded components (like socket connectors, screws, etc..).  It saves on production costs, and arguably makes for a better, more reliable product instead of introducing potential problems to please that < 1% of users.


    This is also debatable.

    We don't know if it is less than 1% of users but, putting that aside, there are repair programmes for just about every model of butterfly equipped Apple laptop. Clearly something went horribly wrong and when your 4 year coverage is up, it is a horrible repair. When they go vintage, these things will be more expensive to repair precisely because of those design decisions.


    chemengin1dysamoriamuthuk_vanalingamawasale
  • Reply 22 of 41
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    bsimpsen said:
    I began my four decade career in electrical engineering as a QA/QC engineer for a large company making building automation/safety systems. Reliability was tantamount. While analyzing field failure reports, I discovered, unsurprisingly, that connectors were the highest failure rate items. The military reliability handbook (MIL-217) warned of this, so it was not a surprise. The fascinating aspect of the field failure data I received was that, although connectors of almost any kind truly were more prone to failure than most other things, socketed parts of systems (chips in particular) were themselves "failing" at above expected rates. Deeper analysis revealed that, because socketed things are easy/cheap to replace, they would be routinely replaced, and because the replacement wasn't done under controlled factory conditions, connection reliability decreased.

    There is ample historical data to support designing systems to have as few mechanical connections as possible, and that's precisely what Apple does. While repair of such systems may be more difficult, the reduction in overall failure rate more than makes up for it. The truth of this is reflected in Apple's consistently high user satisfaction scores.

    The manufacturing companies I worked for during my career would never have attempted to turn service/repair into a profit center. That damages the incentive to design well in the first place and is ultimately detrimental to the organization. The reason service/repair is more expensive than the original manufacturing is simply a matter of scale. Repair centers do not move thousands of components/assemblies per day, do not possess purpose built mass manufacturing equipment, and do not have factory labor rate people available to make the repairs.

    I find Apple's claim credible. Public ignorance of how mass scale manufacturing works doesn't make the reality of it go away.
    Actually my BS detector ended up screaming.  

    While I agree that the elimination of connectors has a significant impact on reliability that has little to do with sub components that are subject to wear or aging.   In the case of both the battery and the keyboard it is Apples design decisions that lead to high costs for repairs.   These are both items that are certain to fail at high rates or over time, so if replacement is difficult there is only one organization to blame.  

    As for their comments about consumer safety that is nonsense also.   Laptops with replaceable batteries still exist.    Even models with “built in” batteries have batteries that are easy to replace.   I just don’t see a justification for keeping such items out of the owners hands.   Think about it people change car batteries all the time and those can cause actual explosions.  At some point people take on the dangers of doing a repair.    If Apple was truly concerned about safety they would supply the quality parts to anybody that needed them.  


    dysamoriamuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 23 of 41
    DRBDRB Posts: 34member
    gatorguy said:
    The only way I can see Apple "losing" money on their repair program is by including products under the original one-year guarantee. AppleCare is obviously a profit center, just as nearly all extended warranty programs are.  If it wasn't they wouldn't be pushing them. Why willingly repair at a loss unless required by the original one-year free warranty that came with the device purchase. AppleCare is meant to profit, just as I believe out-of-warranty repairs are. 
    We don't know all of their costs for operating their Repairs. If we saw their financial statements for running that portion of the business, then it would shed light on where the costs are getting out of hand. Now, they have been the target of a lot of illegal warranty repairs because people are getting away with warranty repairs even though the device they brought in was made from parts purchased from street merchants and non-authorized Apple shops, which they are trying to clamp down on, maybe that's causing them to lose money.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 24 of 41
    More like failed quality control. When Steve Jobs was running Apple their products were either better designed for easier access by the consumer or simply built better. My PowerBook G4 is still running with no issues meanwhile the 2 MacBook Pro’s that replaced it cannot touch it’s quality and have had many trips to Apple’s Repair Center. 
    The iBook I still have has seen 2 replaced displays, a logic board, and more. Talk to me about quality control in design. Sorry, but Apple Manufacturing today would make Steve smile, and I know from personal interactions at Apple with him his goal was to have zero repair products and to assemble a product with as few screws to boot. He bragged about it in several keynotes how few screws the latest Macbook Pro had. The iBook runs 10.4 slow as a dog, but runs it. I turn it on every once in a while for posterity.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 25 of 41
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,095member
    It's time for Apple to increase the cost of AppleCare. It's just not acceptable from a business viewpoint. And it's not acceptable that so many customers abuse their devices, costing repairs.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 26 of 41
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    netrox said:
    It's time for Apple to increase the cost of AppleCare. It's just not acceptable from a business viewpoint. And it's not acceptable that so many customers abuse their devices, costing repairs.
    Oh cry me a river for Apple stock owners...
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 27 of 41
    netrox said:
    It's time for Apple to increase the cost of AppleCare. It's just not acceptable from a business viewpoint. And it's not acceptable that so many customers abuse their devices, costing repairs.
    Apple makes tens of billions of dollars a quarter and has more money than it knows what to do with. No they do not need to increase the price of Apple Care.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 28 of 41
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,082member
    netrox said:
    It's time for Apple to increase the cost of AppleCare. It's just not acceptable from a business viewpoint. 
    Because Apple are famously failing at business.
    FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 29 of 41
    There is no such thing as fail repair, there is only refusal to repair due to fake components by dodgy 3rd party.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 30 of 41
    “Apple is fully supporting a throw-away culture with their products.” 

    One incident does not commit one to cultural assumptions about an entire corporation.
    I won’t tediously identify all their activities that belie this assumption.

    Besides, I don’t believe in feeding the trolls.
    edited November 2019 beeble42fastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 31 of 41
    maestro64 said:
    I can tell you what apple wrote is similar to my experience with them on very few repairs I dealt with. I took in my daughter phone to get the battery replaced after she had it replaced with a non apple battery. We attempted to get the $29 replacement deal they were offering, they did their test said it did not have an apple battery so it was not eligible for the $29 replacement, but they would be happy to replace it for the full cost since the Phone was long out of warranty and it was not a Apple Battery.

    The biggest complaints I hear from people are mostly related to people who some how abused the phone (when challenged on this fact, they deny or say the phone should be able to take it). People think they can do want every them want to their expensive electronics and when it breaks the manufacturer should fix it at no cost to them. I know in the past Apple's policy was very liberal on repairs and people took advantage of this and Apple cracked down and now people are pissed.
    I was at my Genius Bar appointment at Stonestown Galleria in San Francisco a few weeks ago waiting my turn. A woman brought in a damaged iPhone 6; it was severely bent and the screen was half bulging out, screen shattered. Looked like it was smashed in between a car door. Anyway, she was asking how much to get it fixed and the Apple guy says sorry, it's beyond repair. The only thing he could offer was a refurbished replacement of the same model for like $300 since they don't make 'em anymore and it was out of warranty. She flew into a rage demanding why they couldn't fix it and why she would have to pay $300 for "new"/refurbished iPhone?! I mean, really???
    stompyfastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 32 of 41
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,300member
    Quoting without further comment 
    https://9to5mac.com/2019/11/21/lose-money-on-repairs/

    Motherboard's Matthew Gault.

    The idea that Apple is losing money on repair is wild, and a curse of its own making. The answer by Apple seems vague on purpose. Throughout the years, Apple has had to offer many “service programs” for defective products. Most notably, Apple has had to replace a large number of MacBook and MacBook Pro devices for free because it designed an unrepairable keyboard that breaks easily and with normal use. Rather than replacing a few keys on those devices, Apple has to replace half of the computer. If Apple is including warranty repairs and service program repairs in addition to standard retail repairs, well, then, it is quite simply misleading the public and Congress.

    Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of trade organization Repair.org, agreed.

    There are thousands, if not tens of thousands of small repair businesses that make a living repairing phones and do so without having access to low cost parts or tools. I smell farce.

    Right to repair campaigner Nathan Proctor also didn’t mince any words in rejecting Apple’s safety argument.

    “Apple’s argument is absurd,” Nathan Proctor, Director of the Campaign for the Right to Repair at US PIRG, told Motherboard in an email. “In defending their decision not to make spare parts or service information available, the company claims that certain parts and information are necessary for a reliable repair. It’s a totally circular argument. 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.”

    Gordon-Byrne agrees.

    We’ve replaced hundreds of batteries and screens for legislators while they watch…these repairs aren’t rocket science.

    While Apple claims it does nothing to prevent consumers seeking third-party repairs, Gault says this is ‘provably false.’

    Apple has twice pushed out iOS updates that killed the touch functionality of screens repaired by third parties. People who had broken their screens and either repaired themselves or had them repaired by a non-Apple associated store, woke up after an iOS update to find their touch screens didn’t work. The problem was bad enough that some stores stopped working on iPhones. Other issued refunds to affected customers. On the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, a pop-up constantly tells the user their screen isn’t a verified replacement part.

    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 33 of 41
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,426member
    Soli said:
    I know this will be a sore topic for certain people and I hope my comment doesn't derail this thread, but there are very few moving or easily breakable parts on the Mac notebook so being impossible for anyone—even Apple—to replace a keyboard without disassembling the entire machine and having to replace the top cover has always seemed like a bad move for their bottom line from the standpoint of repairs.
    I agree and at some point it would be probably cheaper for Apple to simply swap out a MBP or MBA that's within Warranty than try to repair it.  I am sure in a few years the entire guts of such machines will be on a few Apple made chips and all that will be left in the case will be the I/O, keyboard, battery, RAM and storage.
    edited November 2019 watto_cobra
  • Reply 34 of 41
    Just want to add my voice in case anyone at Apple is taking any of this seriously. (Not holding my breath.)

    Seems to me Apple could save a lot of money by simply making Macs like they once used to be: robust, high-quality, easily-serviceable in the event, and even return to user-upgradeable RAM. Doing this might even end up with selling more Macs. Just saying.
    avon b7muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 35 of 41
    I look forward to Louis Rossmann's feedback on this. :)
    edited November 2019 watto_cobra
  • Reply 36 of 41
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 2,054member
    avon b7 said:
    sflocal said:
    rain22 said:
    Well if that doesn’t scream failed design... Funny that it coincides with 10 years of ‘ZERO’ from ifixit.
    What a load of crap.

    Apple's hardware is more reliable than ever.  Nothing is 100% perfect flawless so stop making it sound like it's something it's not.

    99% of people will NEVER open up their iDevices after purchase.  FACT.  We can debate the merit of soldering certain components until the stars burn out.  From an engineering perspective, it makes perfect sense to design a product for that 99% of the consumer market and remove unneeded components (like socket connectors, screws, etc..).  It saves on production costs, and arguably makes for a better, more reliable product instead of introducing potential problems to please that < 1% of users.


    This is also debatable.

    We don't know if it is less than 1% of users but, putting that aside, there are repair programmes for just about every model of butterfly equipped Apple laptop. Clearly something went horribly wrong and when your 4 year coverage is up, it is a horrible repair. When they go vintage, these things will be more expensive to repair precisely because of those design decisions.


    Then you are supposed to happily fork over more money for the new redesigned models they have started rolling out.
  • Reply 37 of 41
    bsimpsen said:
    I began my four decade career in electrical engineering as a QA/QC engineer for a large company making building automation/safety systems. Reliability was tantamount. While analyzing field failure reports, I discovered, unsurprisingly, that connectors were the highest failure rate items. The military reliability handbook (MIL-217) warned of this, so it was not a surprise. The fascinating aspect of the field failure data I received was that, although connectors of almost any kind truly were more prone to failure than most other things, socketed parts of systems (chips in particular) were themselves "failing" at above expected rates. Deeper analysis revealed that, because socketed things are easy/cheap to replace, they would be routinely replaced, and because the replacement wasn't done under controlled factory conditions, connection reliability decreased.

    There is ample historical data to support designing systems to have as few mechanical connections as possible, and that's precisely what Apple does. While repair of such systems may be more difficult, the reduction in overall failure rate more than makes up for it. The truth of this is reflected in Apple's consistently high user satisfaction scores.

    The manufacturing companies I worked for during my career would never have attempted to turn service/repair into a profit center. That damages the incentive to design well in the first place and is ultimately detrimental to the organization. The reason service/repair is more expensive than the original manufacturing is simply a matter of scale. Repair centers do not move thousands of components/assemblies per day, do not possess purpose built mass manufacturing equipment, and do not have factory labor rate people available to make the repairs.

    I find Apple's claim credible. Public ignorance of how mass scale manufacturing works doesn't make the reality of it go away.
    This all sounds quite credible. It was always my understanding that connectors are the source of many reliability problems, so I am OK with soldered-in components. I don't like it, but I do see the advantages...

    That said, I do wish that someone would come up with an ultra-reliable connector for internal (SSD) storage and perhaps RAM too. At least for Macs*. I think it would make repairs easier and less expensive (assuming testing verifies need to replace component), but for cheapskates like me, it would let me get the least amount of SSD/RAM initially, then when prices of these components drop after a few years, do an upgrade. Even if I choose not to do the upgrade and sell, the re-sale value should be higher, knowing that the next owner could do the upgrade.

    *The fact that pretty much no one asks for memory/storage upgradability on iOS devices is not lost on me. Maybe because the use case is different? I'm not sure.

    The thought occurs to me that if reliability rates were increased even further, and large storage/memory could somehow be offered as standard or significantly less expensively, then the whole soldered-in, lack of repair/upgrade issue might go away. Is any of this reasonably possible? I don't think I am being crazy here, but if I am, it wouldn't be the first time  ;)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 38 of 41
    I smell a large pile of cow manure. If they were losing money on repairs, they could just abandon that area and let independents service the products. And this on top of Cook going along with the “New Austin factory!!!! Yay!! “ .

    Beginning to feel like you cant get an honest word out of Apple either these days. I’ve never given a dime about which supplier I use, but you know its bad when formerly Apple dedicated wife has been building on Alexa and is talking about nothing but Fire products. She’s still hot on the watch though.
    edited November 2019 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 39 of 41
    1st1st Posts: 443member
    repair lost usually not the "common" fault involved - such as drop on the floor (not mountain climb fall from cliff), short dump or rain, etc.  Those are predictable and sort of easy to repair (3rd party repair house usually capable of taking care of that at reasonable cost with OEM parts).  repair gets tricky when deal with "user abuse" - excessive bent, etc. especially near the end of warrentee someone try to get a "new" device to put into microwave for example... Those are costly to trouble shoot - especially the user normally wouldn't tell you the true story, but fabricated some tall tail to cover the track - 3rd party repair house most likely not going to deal with "user abuse", most likely, just tell the user to take a hike...Most likely end up in the Apple repair house.  Those abuse cases are true money losing business.  If got legal involved - such as causing fire, damage my finger, etc. etc. major money outflow cases.  I am sure apple has fair amount of grief... Compare to 3rd party vs inhouse repair business cost is basically compare apple to oranges.... IMHO. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 40 of 41
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,602member
    gatorguy said:
    The only way I can see Apple "losing" money on their repair program is by including products under the original one-year guarantee. AppleCare is obviously a profit center, just as nearly all extended warranty programs are.  If it wasn't they wouldn't be pushing them. Why willingly repair at a loss unless required by the original one-year free warranty that came with the device purchase. AppleCare is meant to profit. 
    They are not talking about Apple Care or 'just' Apple Care. But I think you know that and are just trying to be argumentative. 
    Well then they should be.  Presumably, the majority of repairs are on machines outside of the original 1 year warranty.  Either they make or lose money on what they charge.  In the case of laptops, it's $300, isn't it?

    And if Apple is losing money on their repair program, then would it not be in their own interest to make their products more reliable and easier to repair?  Doesn't it stand to reason that their labor costs are high because their products are generally so difficult to repair?    How does a company with Apple's resources and skills produce machines with such crappy keyboards?  It would be one thing if it only happened once, but it happened repeatedly.   

    My G4 tower was a dream and it was easy to replace components (it never had to go back to Apple).   My late 2008 MBP, was also fantastic because a user with no tech skills could replace the memory, storage and battery and with only a little tech skill, the DVD drive.   That machine did go back to Apple once under warranty because the DVD drive failed.   It finally died in 2016 and no one could fix it because they said there were no replacement parts available.  I think it was probably the power supply that died.    I replaced it with a late 2016 MBP which went back to Apple early on because the screen was defective and one cannot service the memory, battery or storage themselves.   The battery, which never gave me decent daily life, now needs to be replaced and the local Apple Store quoted $450 in parts and labor.   I find that untenable.  And if Apple isn't making good money on that repair, then they should design the machine better.

    I do have to say that if Apple doesn't return to serviceable machines in the future, this will be my last Mac and I've been using Apple products since the late 1970's.   This might be acceptable in a $400 machine, but it's completely unacceptable IMO in a product that costs over $3000 and it also belies Apple's marketing of itself as an environmentally friendly company.   If you have to replace a machine when you need more memory or storage, that's clearly not environmentally friendly.   It's like buying a new car because it needs a muffler or new tires. 
    muthuk_vanalingammicrobe
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