updated 07:18 pm EST, Fri February 28, 2014
Will charge $20 for single support 'incident,' users can apply for exceptions in some cases
Next week, according to sources, Apple will launch a new "paid chat" support option for those users who are completely out of warranty service. The system will work on a "pay per incident" basis, and cost $20 to resolve a problem. On occasion, users will be refunded the charge if the problem turns out to be a known defect that Apple has a coverage program for, even if the device is out of warranty.
Until now, Apple hasn't actually been charging users for online chat help, even though it warns of a potential charge. The new system will present users with options to pay $20 for online chat help regarding out-of-warranty issues, or apply for an exception if the user believes the problem could be a covered hardware defect. AppleCare buyers will of course continue to receive free online and phone support help for the length of their agreement.
The change is said to be linked to the debut of a new, secure web payment system and an ability to keep user data secure even when transferring the chat to other agents (also to avoid being double-charged for an incident). Until the system goes live, online chat even for users with out-of-warranty issues will continue to be assisted for free. 9to5Mac also reports that the company is continuing to waive any fees for iCloud-related support, and incidents where users acknowledge accidental damage and just want to set up a repair or replacement through chat.