Apple Makes Independent Repair Shops Sign Draconian Contracts to Get Official Parts

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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple last summer announced a new Independent Repair Provider Program that provides independent repair businesses with the genuine Apple parts, tools, repair manuals, and training provided to Apple Authorized Service Providers.

The change came amid Right to Repair laws being proposed in multiple states, which Apple has lobbied hard against. Right to Repair laws would require Apple to provide parts, manuals, and more to allow repairs to be done by any repair shop, so Apple decided to get ahead of those laws with its own program.

Image via iFixit

As it turns out, to participate in the Independent Repair Provider Program, repair shops need to sign a contract that's highly invasive and has been described as "crazy" by lawyers and repair advocates.

Motherboard shared details on the contract, which stipulates that repair shops have to agree to unannounced audits and inspections by Apple to determine if they're using "prohibited" repair components, which can result in fines.

Even if a shop leaves the program, Apple can continue to inspect it for up to five years. Repair shops are required to share information about their customers with Apple, including names, phone numbers, and home addresses.

Customers who receive service from an independent repair shop have to sign an acknowledgement that they understand they're not receiving repairs from an Apple Authorized shop and that Apple won't warranty the repair, which as right to repair advocate Nathan Proctor told Motherboard, is essentially requiring them to advertise against themselves.

Shops that partner with Apple for supplies must avoid all "prohibited products," which includes both counterfeit parts and "products or service parts that infringe on Apple's intellectual property," which legal experts believe is ambiguous wording. Apple is also able to seize any prohibited products, which is a potential problem because many repair shops also repair non-Apple devices.
"That is an ambiguous, subjective, and potentially very broad definition," said Aaron Perzanowski, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University. "As a result, it gives Apple a lot of leverage over the companies that sign this agreement."
Repair businesses that violate Apple's rules can be forced to pay Apple $1,000 for every transaction during an audit period if more than two percent of business transactions involve "prohibited products."

Kit Walsh, an attorney with the EFF, told Motherboard that Apple has the power to "impose potentially business-destroying costs and penalties on the repair shop," and that shops who sign Apple's repair notice and then do repairs on non-Apple devices do so at their own peril.

Some repair shops contacted by Motherboard said they would not agree to join Apple's program due to the "onerous" terms of the contract, but others "valued the opportunity" to get parts from Apple.

Apple declined to answer specific questions from Motherboard about the contract that it provides to repair shops, but did not dispute the accuracy of the contract terms the site shared. Apple in a statement said that it is working with interested parties and plans to update the language in its materials based on feedback.
"We are committed to giving our customers more options and locations for safe and reliable repairs," Apple told Motherboard in a statement. "Our new independent repair provider program is designed to give repair businesses of all sizes access to genuine parts, training and tools needed to perform the most common iPhone repairs. We are excited by the initial response and high level of interest. We are working closely with interested parties and we will update language in our materials to address their feedback."
Though Apple has launched the Independent Repair Program, it continues to fight against Right to Repair legislation through trade groups that represent it, and the IRP is used as evidence that consumers have a wide range of choice when it comes to repair options.

For more on the terms of the contract, thoughts from Right to Repair advocates, and Apple's efforts to lobby against Right to Repair laws, check out Motherboard's full article.

Article Link: Apple Makes Independent Repair Shops Sign Draconian Contracts to Get Official Parts
 

quagmire

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2004
6,308
1,101
The unannounced audits? Fine, what's the point of an announced audit? If you announce it, any violators will clean up their act for the audit period.

I do have an issue with the rules that can cause a shop to get into trouble if they repair non-Apple devices as well. As well as sharing the customer info.... I am sure that is to put into a database so if they do take their device to an Apple Store, they can go, " Well warranty is now void due to taking it to Joe Repair Shop!" If they want to be able to do that, track the parts, not the customer.
 

andiwm2003

macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
4,339
399
Boston, MA
This one seems fair to me. As customer I should have the right to know this: "Customers who receive service from an independent repair shop have to sign an acknowledgement that they understand they're not receiving repairs from an Apple Authorized shop and that Apple won't warranty the repair, ...."

The rest seems a bit tough but not unheard of except of the "5 year after leaving the program rule".

I also don't like that the shops have to share all the customer information. That is just Apple being information greedy.

But honestly, as long as my phone is under apple care i go to an apple store anyway and after tthat I go to the one of the three repair shops across the street. Just check their recent yelp reviews and it's cheap and works. And they certainly don't share anything. It's cash and walk out after 15 min. I don't understand why people who want original apple parts would go out of their way to go to the independent shops with original apple parts instead of just walking over to the apple store.
 

LeeW

macrumors 65816
Feb 5, 2017
1,052
1,473
Glasgow, Scotland
repair shops have to agree to unannounced audits and inspections by Apple to determine if they're using "prohibited" repair components, which can result in fines.
Seems fair.

Customers who receive service from an independent repair shop have to sign an acknowledgment that they understand they're not receiving repairs from an Apple Authorized shop and that Apple won't warranty the repair
Again, fair, the client needs to know that the repair they are about to get does not carry the same weight many will simply expect as they will see any repair as Apple endorsed and anticipate recourse against them if it goes wrong.

Shops that partner with Apple for supplies must avoid all "prohibited products," which includes both counterfeit parts and "products or service parts that infringe on Apple's intellectual property," which legal experts believe is ambiguous wording. Apple is also able to seize any prohibited products, which is a potential problem because many repair shops also repair non-Apple devices.

I can see both sides of this, Apple wants to avoid their brand being tarnished in the dodgy mobile type shops that unlock phones, use counterfeit parts and so on, so a tough one but they can't be seizing goods if they really are doing something wrong then report them to the relevant authorities. I would say remove their right to get the Apple parts but that is encroaching on RTR.

Repair businesses that violate Apple's rules can be forced to pay Apple $1,000 for every transaction during an audit period if more than two percent of business transactions involve "prohibited products."
Harsh.

I see what they are trying to do, yes you can repair and we will give you what you need but only if your shop fits within the Apple way of doing things, and that is good albeit restrictive for a shop worth $100k vs a business worth $1tn.

It's a start I guess.
 

deconstruct60

macrumors G3
Mar 10, 2009
8,555
1,508
....
Customers who receive service from an independent repair shop have to sign an acknowledgement that they understand they're not receiving repairs from an Apple Authorized shop and that Apple won't warranty the repair, which as right to repair advocate Nathan Proctor told Motherboard, is essentially requiring them to advertise against themselves.
Communicating the truth to your customers is now "advertising against themselves". Amusing that this is suppose to be a consumer benefit driven thing but when it comes to blow smoke at the consumer all of a sudden it is "onerous" and "invasive".

Shops that partner with Apple for supplies must avoid all "prohibited products," which includes both counterfeit parts and "products or service parts that infringe on Apple's intellectual property," which legal experts believe is ambiguous wording.
Really. The first relatively obviously applies to Apple's custom parts which is the main core access issue. " ... infringe on Apples IP... " is typically folks are in a IP legal action with Apple. Again this is likely scoped to the custom Apple parts that the program is designed to give access to.

It is only pull the sentence completely out of all surrounding context and start arm flapping about extra expansive connotations that it gets ambiguous. The scoped context here isn't ambiguous unless want to start standing on head and inventing stuff.

Apple is also able to seize any prohibited products, which is a potential problem because many repair shops also repair non-Apple devices.
and how many custom Apple parts fit into other non-Apple devices ?

And how many industry standard parts that Apple uses ( e.g, DIMMs in iMac , Mini, Mac Pro) have custom Apple IP in them? They are trying to trott out some bogie man argument that if Apple gives you a DIMM somehow they can attack any non-Apple product with a DIMM in it. ... just looney toons. Not what the contract is talking about unless invent new contexts to insert carefully crafted subsections into.
 

jonblatho

macrumors 65816
Jan 20, 2014
1,476
3,699
Missouri
Considering the draconian terms that Apple imposes on its “authorized” partners in retail and service, I’m sure no one in the right-to-repair movement could have seen this coming.
 
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Pakaku

macrumors 68020
Aug 29, 2009
2,208
2,210
Draconian? These types of conditions are pretty common in many industries. The 5 years after leaving seems odd, but I haven't see anywhere that’s been confirmed as true.
Even if they are common or not, they're still draconian by the sounds of this one, which just makes it sound all the more worse to me than an article specifically about Apple sounds
 

kofman13

macrumors 6502
May 6, 2009
307
93
who cares. no one here in comments probably owns a repair shop anyway. i would always get apple repair over third party dudes for peace of mind
 

konqerror

macrumors 65816
Dec 31, 2013
1,492
2,471
Imagine repairing your own car and then GM fines you for using aftermarket parts.
The fact is nowadays, many parts are not available aftermarket due to patent and trademark protection (e.g. Mustang bumpers where they stamped the brand into it).

The issue is the automotive industry doesn't have (as many) Chinese factories churning out unlicensed and counterfeit parts, like the electronics industry does. A lot of complex aftermarket parts today are actually from the OEM made the original part and retained rights.

On top of that, there's strict regulation of car parts via DoT/NHTSA for safety reasons, fake parts are often stopped at the border.
 
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ctdonath

macrumors 65816
Mar 11, 2009
1,490
463
Can't blame 'em. It's such a high-profile brand, with a well-established litany of 3rd-party vendors trying to edge into the cash flow with crappy parts & bad services. Get your $1000 phone fixed by somewhere other than Apple, and if it starts acting subtly wonky Apple doesn't want you blaming them for it.

I know how mad I got when a car repair shop failed to screw a bottom cover on sufficiently because "we didn't have enough screws then". I'm suspicious of the replacement bearings installed (didn't have much choice under the circumstances) by some third-party shop. My preferred car repair guy makes very clear when he's using used/non-OEM parts.

I'd be mad if a cracked iPhone screen were replaced with anything other than Apple-approved Gorilla Glass (or whatever they're using now), etc.
 

dubar

macrumors newbie
May 8, 2019
6
49
Imagine you take your GM to an authorized GM repair shop only to find out that they used FORD parts or KIA parts in your automobile. How would that make you feel?
It depends, do they require me to pay up to 30% of the vehicles cost for an extended warranty? If you can repair my car for less than GM, do I really care if I have a KIA alternator? I brought my car in so you could get it running, not impress me with your "authorized" part.