As any iPhone owner knows, if you’re going to be out for most of the day without access to a computer or power point, you’re going to need a portable charger.
So when I was travelling in the USA with friends and my iPhone battery started draining rapidly (down to 49% by 11am), I figured I was just using it more. As days went on, the phone became a “fussy” charger. It would only charge on certain cords with a wall plug (not with a PC). Then, it would only charge through a portable charger, however would never pass 3%. I could only use it when it was plugged in as the second it disconnected from the charger, it turned off.
By this time, I was in Las Vegas and made an appointment at an Apple store. The Genius representative conducted the usual tests and told me that the chances of getting it to work properly again were next to zero.
I chose to purchase an iPhone 7, chalking it up to a holiday cost and deciding to sort it all out when I got home.
Contacting Apple Support in Australia
As the phone was in otherwise good condition, I assumed the phone just needed a battery replacement. Apple’s website noted that a Battery Replacement for an out-of-warranty iPhone was $119 with a $19.95 shipping fee.
I made a call to support to request a box be sent out and nearly fell off my chair when I was told that my repair fee would be $448.95 – not the $119.00 I had seen online. At that point, I decided my old iPhone could just stay as an expensive brick.
iPhones & The Australian Consumer Law
For those who are completely clueless on the law (like I was), The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is the national law for fair trading and consumer protection.
I spent hours reading the documents provided on the website, however it basically boils down to Consumer Guarantees. I encourage you read the entire guide (A case study about Apple is on page 23) but the main take away points are:
You may seek a remedy from a Manufacturer, Importer or the Supplier of the goods
I chose to go to Apple directly because I thought it would be easier and I had since re-contracted onto a different Telstra plan.
A reasonable life expectancy of Apple products is 24 months however they may provide remedies for products past this date
Without limiting consumers’ rights, Apple will provide its own remedies equivalent to those remedies in the consumer guarantee provisions of the Australian Consumer Law at any time within 24 months of the date of purchase. For the avoidance of doubt, Apple acknowledges that the Australian Consumer Law may provide for remedies beyond 24 months for a number of its products.
You can read more about Apple and The Consumer Law here.
Visiting the Genius Bar in Australia
I visited the Apple Store and explained what was happening with the phone, what the associate in Las Vegas tried (Liquid Damages Test etc) and that now I was hoping we could sort something out.
I went armed with my Consumer Law documents and Telstra contract showing when I took possession of the phone. And you know what? It all stayed in my bag. After pulling up my account, reading some account notes and a quick check of my phone, the associate said “Okay! Just need to get the manager to sign off on this and then I’ll go and grab your new phone”.
No mention of being out of warranty, no need to negotiate on a repair cost. Nothing. Just a shiny new (refurbished) gold iPhone 6 brought out on the table. Impressive.
When I checked the receipt, it showed that Apple had passed it through their system as a Consumer Law claim.
There is a slight difference between the Consumer Law price and the item cost, however Apple also cover this.
I’m incredibly impressed with how Apple handled this. It’s great that their staff are trained in recognising and processing Consumer Law Claims.
So what have I learned from this experience?
1. Back up to iCloud
I must admit, before this “incident”, I had never bothered with iCloud. I charged my phone nightly via a desktop PC where it automatically backed up to iTunes. I’d been doing it that way since my first iPhone and didn’t see a reason to change.
My mistake was that I took a different laptop with me on my travels, that I hadn’t backed the phone up on.
To get all of my data and photos back in one place, I had to:
- Copy all of the pictures from my iPhone 7 to a computer
- Restore the iPhone 7 to factory settings
- Set up the iPhone 7 with the iPhone 6 backup
- Copy back on the photos from the iPhone 7
It’s not a process I want to have to deal with again. Now, I pay $1.49 per month for 50GB of iCloud storage. A small price for piece of mind. Apple also offer other storage plan options and up to 5GB for free.
2. Seek help as soon as possible
The associate in Las Vegas wrote some comprehensive notes on my account which made my visit to the Apple Store in Brisbane a much smoother experience.
When I reached out for help in Las Vegas on October 27, I was still within the 24-month warranty period. However, by the time I was back in Australia, I was out of that time frame. My experience may not have had such a positive outcome if I only raised the issue when I was back.
Apple Genius Bar appointments in Australia book out fast. As soon as you detect a problem, jump on to the support website and follow the steps to book an appointment at your closest store. You can also just walk into a store; however, they may not have any appointments available or you may be in for a long wait.
Have you had a similar experience? What was the outcome?