Apple made headlines earlier this year when it admitted to intentionally slowing down the speed of older-model phones in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns. The company issued an apology for not informing customers about the slow down and offered them a discount on a replacement battery, but switching those batteries is proving to be harder than customers originally thought.
While Apple tried to save face by announcing discounts on replacement batteries, they failed to mention some fine-print details that were later published on the company’s website. A search on the company’s website takes you to a page that tells you that you are only eligible for a replacement if you are an AppleCare subscriber. Damaged phones may also be ineligible for the battery-replacement plan as well.
“If your iPhone issue is covered by warranty, AppleCare+, or consumer law, we’ll replace your battery at no charge,” Apple says on its website. “Not sure if you’re covered? Check if you have AppleCare+ by entering your iPhone serial number. If your iPhone has any damage that impairs the replacement of the battery, such as a cracked screen, that issue will need to be resolved prior to the battery replacement. In some cases, there may be a cost associated with the repair.”
Neither conditions were mentioned in the company’s original apology letter. The move is being perceived as a sign the company is trying to cut costs. Customers who don’t necessarily need battery replacements were going to Apple stores in order to take advantage of the $29 battery replacement deal. The increased demand may have caused Apple to rethink their special offer.
The company is also using other tactics to try to prevent customers from replacing their batteries. Apple employees are trying to persuade customers from taking advantage of the replacement battery deal.
Lizzie Gerson of Orlando, Florida, started noticing slowdowns on her iPhone 7 six months after buying it. “My battery wouldn’t keep a charge while I was out during the day. I use messaging and [talk] to people often…it wouldn’t hold a full charge just by doing those two simple tasks throughout the day. I might get 3 hrs. worth of battery life,” she said.
Gerson says she took her phone to Apple and tried to get her battery switched. Apple refused to switch her battery, she said. “They kept saying I was wrong about the deal and it wasn’t for my iPhone  even though it was for the 6 on up. My phone was the newest model at that time. The battery declined so fast which is why I was trying to get one. They turned me away and denied me service. When I spoke to the support line they said, ‘Go to the store’ [where I was denied the discount for the battery]’”.
Gerson has since switched to Android. “No, I don’t think I would switch back to Apple. The battery issue was disappointing.”
Observers have noted that it’s in Apple’s best interest for customers to upgrade to new $700 iPhones instead of extending the life of their current devices with a new $29 battery. About 2/3 of Apple’s revenue comes from iPhone sales and Wall Street judges the company on how many iPhones it sells each quarter.
Whether Apple is actively discouraging customers from replacing their batteries at the special, lower price remains to be seen and will be highly dependent on what the company’s bottom line comes out to be in the coming months. But what is true is that Apple is slashing away at consumer confidence and hurting its brand at the same time.
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