Today, Apple released its much-anticipated iPhone 7, with the usual fanfare to a gaggle of media and Apple acolytes, who seem to wait with bated breath each time a new version of an i-something is announced. Yesterday, I picked up my replacement iPhone 6s. There was no excited anticipation, or celebration, on my part and it took less than ten minutes for the representative at my local Apple Store’s Genius Bar to hand me my replacement phone after removing it from a nondescript white box and inserting my phone’s SIM card. My replacement phone, or as Apple calls it: a ‘service phone’, is a refurbished iPhone 6s that replaces the brand new, shiny, Space Gray, iPhone 6s I bought at the end of June that was defective out-of-the-box.
The store representative was happy to send me on my way after that brief interaction. My destination was home, to load my backed up data on to this replacement and pretend the defective phone was replaced with something new. The problem is, I know it’s not new. I know – because I asked someone an unexpected question – that Apple’s policy is to replace their products, when they are defective out-of-the-box, with refurbished products. Products that have had part(s) interchanged within their shells when they have failed diagnostics tests that indicate a hardware, not a software flaw; and knowing that makes me feel like crap because it’s not in any way – at least not to me – comparable to the phone the I paid hundreds of dollars for roughly two months ago. A decision I feel stupid for making, not because I’m an avid Apple fan, but on the basis that I didn’t have to learn how to use a new manufacturer’s phone and that my iPhone 4 had been reliable for four years so I believed this new improved model should be just as good.
In recent conversations I’ve had with Apple Support representatives, they’ve made it clear to me that Apple doesn’t have a problem explaining and supporting this policy of replacing the defective products people pay hundreds of dollars for with refurbished equipment. Even the Apple Store manager, to whom I made it clear that I paid out-of-pocket for my phone, when she flippantly suggested that my phone was a freebie I received as part of a locked-in-until-your-kids-are-old-enough-to-drive contract many people sign on to with their mobile phone service providers, only stumbled for a moment before getting back on-message. Not even my mobile service provider was aware that this happens with Apple’s defective out-of-the-box products, until I called them to see what options I might have in lieu of accepting what I consider a sub-standard replacement. In fact, the representative I spoke with stated, that he’d never had another customer call with my issue and that “I’m dumbstruck, especially coming from Apple that’s supposed to be the ‘Cadillac’ of companies,” when I explained some of the Apple Store manager’s rationale for why they use ‘service phones’.
I guess giving customers refurbished product must be at the top of the lesser-known policies Apple uses to grow profits and keep a high percentage of product market share, while presenting their glossy image – as they did today at the iPhone 7 launch – because people rarely think to ask the question I did. Now I get to walk around, until I replace my phone in another three or four years, with the displeasure of knowing that I have an iFrankenphone that was built to replace defective part(s) instead of the brand new, shiny, Space Gray, iPhone 6s I spent a shitload of money for.
Jerry Reed – She Got the Goldmine, I got The Shaft