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Undercover Apple Investigation Reveals How It Might Be Thwarting Cheaper Repairs
By Mikelle Leow, 10 Oct 2018
Video screenshot via CBC News: The National
In line with a recently leaked Apple memo detailing a “kill switch” that renders third-party-repaired computers obsolete, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has published an episode that suggests other ploys the company might have adopted to prevent customers from turning to cheaper alternatives in order to fix their devices.
The 17-minute segment by national news program The National sees a reporter going undercover at an Apple Store in Toronto with a MacBook Pro that has a “common problem”: a faulty screen.
A ‘Genius’ at the store tells him that the problem lies in “a lot of liquid that’s gotten on the inside,” and suggests that he replace numerous components.
The employee estimates that the solution would require at least CA$1,200 (US$927). Of this, CA$600 (US$463) would be needed to swap the logic board, CA$500 (US$386) would go to the replacement of the top case, and CA$100 (US$77) would go towards labor. A brand new display was quoted at an additional CA$780 (US$602).
The anchor then asks for cheaper alternatives to rectify the issue. After pondering for a bit, the employee says that the price “is very close to the cost of buying a new computer. In terms of fixing it in the store? No.”
The reporter subsequently takes this same laptop to renowned YouTuber and repair expert Louis Rossmann, who, upon disassembling the device, pinpoints the problem to a faulty backlight.
The display is fixed in a few minutes.
Though there was a possibility of liquid damage, as shown by the red indicators in the MacBook, Rossmann says that they could have been triggered by humidity.
Interestingly, Rossmann claims that a short-term fix to the dimmed screen would cost nothing at all, but for a more lasting solution, customers need only cough up between CA$75 (US$58) and CA$150 (US$116).
The National also interviewed recognized gadget fixer iFixit’s cofounder Kyle Wiens, who pointed out that Apple has been making it “more challenging to get access to the information that you need, or for local shops to get the parts.”
He also showed how the tech giant might debilitate external parties from fixing its products by inventing new screw shapes and gluing batteries into iPhones.
Wiens leads Canada’s ‘Right to Repair’ movement. “Apple’s perspective is that it wants complete control over the device, from the moment that you buy it, all the way through to the end of life. ‘Right to Repair’ takes some of the control away from them, and puts it back into the hands of the owner.”
However, Apple-focused news site Apple Insider disputed an implication made by The National that Apple simply dumps customers’ gadgets into the woodchipper or feeds them to its recycling robots. Instead, the company sends devices back to the depot to be repaired or refurbished… by human employees.
Nevertheless, the episode makes for an intriguing watch. The good news is Apple’s “kill switch” hasn’t been activated yet, so you’ll still have time to get your tech toy fixed by a cheaper repair shop.
[via Apple Insider, video and cover image via CBC News: The National]
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