updated 01:20 pm EDT, Tue October 11, 2011
Options for adding plan unclear
Apple is halting a policy of occasionally waiving the replacement fee for damaged, out-of-warranty iPhones, an Apple Store source claims. For some time the company has allowed Genius Bar workers to toss out the $199 replacement fee as a "one-time exception," the source explains. With the advent of AppleCare+, however, Geniuses will allegedly be blocked from offering free replacements at all. The AppleCare+ plan offers extended warranty coverage, but unless a phone is defective people must pay $49 each time for the first two repairs/replacements, and a higher amount if anything should happen afterward.
Complicating the situation is that many carriers and other vendors are reportedly selling the iPhone 4S without an AppleCare+ option. Apple itself requires that AppleCare+ be bought at the same time as an iPhone, which may potentially block some 4S buyers from ever having the extra coverage. The company's sales representatives are said to be offering different solutions, such as just calling Apple to get the option, or bringing an unopened 4S to an Apple Store.
The source does add though that people who don't get AppleCare+ with an original iPhone purchase should still be able to add it to a later replacement device. Under such circumstances the replacement fee will be discounted by $50, bringing the overall cost down to $249. AppleCare+ is formally launching on Friday for $99.