from the this-one-goes-to-11 dept
Apple has never looked too kindly upon users actually repairing their own devices. The company’s ham-fisted efforts to shut down, sue, or otherwise imperil third-party repair shops are well established. As are the company’s efforts to force recycling shops to shred Apple products (so they can’t be refurbished and re-used), and Apple’s often comical attacks on essential right to repair legislation, which only sprung up after companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sony, John Deere, and others created a grass-roots counter-movement via their attempts to monopolize repair.
The company’s policies are also pretty ingrained in the company’s employee training process. New leaked Apple training videos obtained by Motherboard show how Apple trains its employees to routinely steer consumers away from less expensive options, and toward “authorized” Apple repairs. Repairs that, not at all surprisingly, wind up costing the consumer significantly more dough:
“Leaked training videos Apple made for its authorized repair partners show how the company trains repair technicians to undermine third party companies and talk customers into buying more expensive first party repairs…For years, Apple has made it harder for independent repair stores to fix phones, nudging customers to go to Apple stores instead. In response, there’s been a rising right-to-repair movement that wants to make it easier for people to repair their own stuff.”
The motivation for these behaviors is obvious: if users are repairing or recycling their iDevices, that means fewer device sales and more customers wandering outside of Apple’s ecosystem. Apple routinely obfuscates this obvious self interest under claims that it’s exclusively worried about consumer safety and security, like that time it claimed that Nebraska would become a “mecca for hackers” (oh no!) if the state embraced legislation protecting a consumer’s right to repair their own devices.
In response to complaints Apple has made a few minor concessions over the years, such as the launch of an “Apple Authorized Service Providers” (AASP) program in 2016, designed to lower its repair walls slightly. But participants in this program remain heavily restricted as to what they can actually do, something that — much like its broader opposition to right to repair in general — is usually framed as a consumer health and safety issue, and not just Apple being greedy about repair revenue and the desire for boosted new phone sales:
“AASP launched in 2016 as a way for some independent stores to make basic repairs to Apple devices. AASP stores must open their stores to unannounced audits by Apple, and face a mountain of restrictions on what they can and can’t fix.”
The consumer, market, and environmental harms of Apple’s quest to monopolize repair are pretty well documented at this point. The company is being dragged, kicking and screaming, up the right to repair mountain, and there are still many miles to go until meaningful reform is implemented internally. At some point Apple execs may find it smarter to get out ahead of right to repair legislation by implementing voluntary and truly meaningful reform, but it’s pretty clear we’re nowhere near that point yet.