AppleCare+ to End Informal Free Replacement Policy for Damaged iPhones [Updated]

applecare plus iconLast week, we noted that Apple had introduced a new "AppleCare+" offering for iPhone, replacing the previous $69 AppleCare with the new $99 warranty extending coverage to two years from the date of device purchase and including new coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage. Incidents of accidental damage covered under the new AppleCare+ program will also incur $49 service fees.

One Apple retail store source has contacted us to explain in more detail how the new AppleCare+ program will also change the way the Genius Bar handles damaged devices. Previously, Genius Bar staff had some flexibility in waiving the $199 out-of-warranty replacement fee as a "one-time exception", giving customers a free replacement for a damaged phone. With the shift to AppleCare+, Genius Bar staff will no longer have the option of offering free replacements, so customers who have been aware of Apple's informal replacement policy should be mindful of the change.

Apple is also now requiring that AppleCare+ be purchased at the same time as the device, a change from other AppleCare offerings that have allowed customers to purchase AppleCare anytime before the standard warranty expires. That requirement has been causing some confusion with iPhone 4S pre-orders through carriers and other outlets, as many of them have not been offering AppleCare+ as an option.

Customers seem to be hearing different stories from Apple sales representatives regarding adding AppleCare+ to iPhone 4S purchases made elsewhere, adding to the confusion. Some representatives have suggested that a simple phone call to Apple can resolve the situation, while others have suggested that users should bring their unopened iPhone 4S boxes to Apple retail stores and have staff members set up the devices and add AppleCare+.

apple genius bar banner
But while Apple's official policy requires AppleCare+ to be purchased at same time as the device, the source who reached out to us notes that Apple will allow users who did not purchase AppleCare+ to add it to a replacement phone if they damage their device and need to have it replaced. Under the program, customers needing to replace a damaged iPhone would be given a $50 discount on Apple's standard $199 replacement fee if they also purchase AppleCare+ for the replacement device, for a total cost of $249. That program would then cover the consumer for additional accidental damage incidents in the future.

Update: We're hearing that even Apple isn't clear on whether AppleCare+ needs to be purchased at the same time as the device. While Apple's iPhone and AppleCare pages are clear that AppleCare+ "must be purchased together with your new iPhone", the legal text of the AppleCare+ Terms and Conditions (PDF) indicates otherwise:

You must purchase the Plan while your original iPhone is within Apple’s One Year Limited warranty.

We've been told that Apple may be offering some clarification on the AppleCare+ situation by the time the iPhone 4S launches on Friday.

Update 2: Apple has been reaching out to customers who were unable to order AppleCare+ at the time of their iPhone 4S purchases, noting that customers will have 30 days to visit an Apple retail store to purchase AppleCare+ if they so desire. The company's online store will not support standalone ordering of AppleCare+.

Related Forum: iPhone

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Top Rated Comments

Abyssgh0st Avatar
166 months ago
Apple Care is a waste of money. I have tons of friends who work at the Apple Store and they say just walk in with a smile, feed them the usual of how much you lover their products, blab blah blah, and they'll bend over backwards for you and fix or replace for free. Works all the time.

Did you not read the article? It explicitly says that they apparently no longer have the leeway to waive the $199 fee for replacing a damaged phone.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
adztaylor Avatar
166 months ago
Apple Care is a waste of money. I have tons of friends who work at the Apple Store and they say just walk in with a smile, feed them the usual of how much you lover their products, blab blah blah, and they'll bend over backwards for you and fix or replace for free. Works all the time.
That's exactly what Applecare+ is going to stop.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TC400 Avatar
166 months ago
Apple Care is a waste of money. I have tons of friends who work at the Apple Store and they say just walk in with a smile, feed them the usual of how much you lover their products, blab blah blah, and they'll bend over backwards for you and fix or replace for free. Works all the time.

Ha! if that was only true.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
majortom1981 Avatar
166 months ago
Hmm so they are making it more expensive to get your phone fixed at apple? Does apple like ruining their image? One of the only reasons to buy apple products is there customer service. I will not buy apple products if they become just like dell .
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
foodog Avatar
166 months ago
wait and see .... one of the reasons why people are so happy with the customer service of apple is because they are very tolerant in bending the rules to make the customer happy - I don't think this will change, they don't want to destroy the good reputation they got. I know many people where the buying decision was highly influence by the knowledge of the great customer satisfaction and flexible return/repair service.

Being helpful and providing great customer service is one thing, replacing something the customer damage is another.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dball4 Avatar
166 months ago
Even though the article clearly states that they will not do it, I bet it will still happen since Apple has always taken care of us customers. If not then I will take my money elsewhere. I buy products from companies that treat me well and I'm not afraid to move on
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)