Regular AppleCare plan vanishes
Apple is today making major changes to its AppleCare plans for iPhone and iPad buyers. When considering an AppleCare+ plan, shoppers now reportedly have a 60-day window after their iPhone/iPad purchase, instead of the previous 30 days. The one exception to this is in Japan, where the old limit is still in effect.
Some regions could get 24/7 phone support
During a town hall meeting earlier this week, Apple's VP for AppleCare -- Tara Bunch -- revealed several plans in the works for the company's technical support, sources say. Many of these revolve around AppleCare+, which extends the warranty coverage for devices and shrinks the costs for two incidents of accidental damage. Bunch noted that the company is planning to bring AppleCare+ to more countries, despite different insurance and legal structures making this complicated.
Photo shows second part to Austin visit
(Updated with photo of Cook at AppleCare center) As a part of his visit to Austin yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook also ended up touring the manufacturing plant where the Mac Pro is assembled, according to a new Twitter post. "Watching the Mac Pro come together in Austin yesterday, thanks to a team loaded with American manufacturing expertise," he writes, captioning a photo.
Public release could hit as soon as this week
Apple is seeding another new build of OS X 10.9.3 to AppleCare workers, listed as build 13D62. The previous internal build was 13D59; developers, by contrast, are still on 13D55, at least three builds behind the latest release. Change notes included with 13D62 haven't changed since the ones bundled with 13D57.
May be small step towards holding grip in educational tablet market
Apple has quietly extended the amount of coverage included in AppleCare+ plans for schools buying iPads. At the company's educational institution stores, the checkout process for an iPad offers the ability to pick up an AppleCare+ warranty for $99. While the price has remained unchanged, the amount of included coverage has grown from two to three years.
Potentially cheaper than calling phone support
Although the timing has proven slightly different, Apple has otherwise confirmed rumors and begun charging some customers for online chat support. For people out of warranty coverage, chat now costs $19 per incident. AppleCare staff can choose to waive that fee though, particularly in cases where a problem was quickly resolved. Another given exception is if a product was just recently bought.
Judge said to be hesitant to go through with measure
A Belgian judge is considering whether to order local ISPs to block access to Apple websites in the country, local reports say. The measure is a possible response to charges of fraud brought by consumer protection group FPS Economy. FPS points out that while Apple has been claiming a standard warranty of just one year, European law mandates a minimum of two, at no extra cost. Apple has been asking Belgians to buy an extended AppleCare warranty to get two years of support.
Workers prepped to deal with update's changes
Apple is now seeding the latest build of OS X 10.9.1 -- 13B40 -- to AppleCare workers, a report says. The code reached developers Tuesday night, but its distribution to AppleCare is believed to be more significant, since it implies that the software is close enough to completion that AppleCare workers can start familiarizing themselves. A finished update might therefore reach the public within the next week or two.
Dramatically faster troubleshooting, resolution achieved with visuals
In a quiet update today, Apple is now giving users who have a problem the option of initiating a screen-sharing session directly with AppleCare representatives. While screen-sharing has been a tool available for the reps for some time to help customers, it usually comes only after many other areas of discussion and testing of a problem have already been tried. The practice can be a great help in quickly troubleshooting or identifying the cause of a problem.
Facility hands repairs, shipments
Apple has opened a second US AppleCare warehouse, located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Documents show that the main complex measures just under 200,000 square feet; another 2,500 square feet is available for any office needs Apple might have. The facility will reportedly handle AppleCare repairs and replacements, including the process of shipping units to Genius Bars and individuals.
Secrecy measures in place to prevent Mavericks info from leaking out
Apple has today begun training AppleCare workers on OS X Mavericks, according to sources. During the next few weeks, staff are expected to spend at least six hours learning about new features, the installation process, and troubleshooting options. Apple is reportedly maintaining the same sort of secrecy it applied to iOS 7 and iTunes Radio training, meaning AppleCare advisors will only learn about Mavericks in small groups in order to keep the training process from becoming public.
iPhone accident replacement fees rise to $79
In addition to expanding to Europe, AppleCare+ is now also available for the iPod touch and iPod classic. In the US this costs $59, and extends warranty coverage from one year to two, with matching phone support, and two accidental damage incidents at a reduced $29 fee. Previously, only regular AppleCare was available for iPods.
Leaves North America for first time
As anticipated, Apple has brought AppleCare+ plans to Europe for the first time. Initially, however, the option is only being sold in the UK, France, and Italy. In the UK, the fee to replace an accidentally-damaged iPad under the two-year plan is £39; replacing an iPhone is £55. Defective units should be swapped out at no extra cost.
Apple partnering with AIG
Apple's rumored European expansion of AppleCare+ will initially reach just six countries, sources say. A launch is reportedly "imminent" in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the UK, although no exact dates are available. Apple is said to be partnering with AIG on the service; local AppleCare and Genius Bar workers started training for AppleCare+ earlier this week.
Hints at launch windows for iOS 7, new iPhones
AppleCare support workers have been barred from taking vacations between September 15 and 28, according to an internal document seen by AppleInsider. The timing is consistent with when major US carriers have been blocking vacations, presumably in preparation for an iPhone launch. Apple, however, has established a much larger blackout period, which could indicate that iOS 7 will be released as soon as the 15th.
Workers asked to tell customers iOS 7 works the same as iOS 6
Apple has begun training AppleCare crews to support iOS 7 and iTunes Radio, according to sources in the division. Workers must reportedly finish iOS 7 training by the second week of September, which is roughly in line with when Apple is planning to announce the iPhone 5S and 5C, and when iOS 7 should be on the verge of reaching the public. The sources note that once iOS 7 is launched, Apple will ask most of its part-time staff to upgrade to full-time status to handle the workload.
Unclear how program would mesh with European warranty laws
Apple is planning to bring its AppleCare+ warranty program to Europe, a French site claims. In the US AppleCare+ costs $99, and extends an iPhone or iPad's warranty from one year of defect-only coverage to two years, also adding accidental damage coverage through which a device can be replaced twice for just $49 per incident. Europe will get AppleCare+ for the iPhone "soon," iGen writes, and at some point for the iPad, but it's uncertain if iPad support will be launched simultaneously or later.
Alerts chat users to possible delays
Though somewhat later than anticipated, Apple has implemented rumored changes to its AppleCare Support website. The main addition is that of live chat, presented along other contact options such as scheduling a phone call or finding a local retail service outlet. Before selecting chat, people can glimpse an estimated wait time.
Web interface to focus on connecting users to support staff
Apple is planning to make key changes to AppleCare support during the next few weeks, sources say. One change is 24/7 online chat support, expected to take effect as soon as August 12th, although the sources caution that the date is merely a target and could shift. The company once tested 24/7 chat more than eight years ago, but is now thought prepared to make the service standard. The sources add that if extended chat is successful, Apple could consider 24/7 phone support as well.
Extends coverage to two-year period demanded by EU law
Apple has updated its default warranties in Belgium, France, and Germany to reflect European Union law, reports say. EU regulations require covering the sort of goods Apple sells for two years. Until now, though, Apple only marketed its warranties as covering one year in the above countries, drawing criticism from governments and consumer groups. The company was only giving two-year warranties to people paying for extended AppleCare packages.
Technicians will no longer need annual recertification
Apple has updated its Apple Certified Macintosh Technician (ACMT) program for people aiming to service products under AppleCare warranties. Under the new terms, beginning on June 23rd, Apple says it should easier to both get and maintain certification. Technicians will no longer need to be recertified every year, and all exams will be available online, instead of forcing people to go to testing centers. When a test is done at a center, exam proctors will no longer be required.
Complaints about iPhone replacements force response
Apple CEO Tim Cook has posted an open letter to Chinese customers, announcing changes to the company's warranty policies in the country. He explains that in the past couple of weeks the company has received a number of complaints, particularly in relation to the iPhone 4 and 4S. The people charged that while customers elsewhere were getting full replacements for faulty hardware, Chinese customers were only getting repairs using replacement parts.
Says Apple breaking law in 21 European countries
Apple is still failing to tell consumers about their warranty rights in many European Union countries, says EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. Last September Reding sent a letter to various governments encouraging them to take action against Apple to make sure it obeyed EU warranty laws. But the case and the responses to her letter "have highlighted rather clearly just why the Commission cannot sit on the side-lines on enforcement issues," Reding said in a speech today, as reported by Dow Jones. "The approaches to enforcement in these types of cases turn out to be very diversified and inconsistent at a national level. In at least 21 EU Member States Apple is not informing consumers correctly about the legal warranty rights they have. This is simply not good enough."
Some Apple workers allegedly told not to talk about new rights
Apple has extended the default warranty on its products in Australia from one year to two years, but retail staff are being told not to advertise that fact, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. In January 2011 a new Australian Consumer Law came into force, mandating that many products come with a warranty of "reasonable" length, even if a manufacturer's stated warranty has expired. What constitutes a reasonable length has been left flexible, but the country's Competition and Consumer Commission recommends that for a product like an expensive TV, the period can be up to two years.
Case is similar to Italian ruling on two-year warranties
Apple's practice of selling AppleCare extended warranties by advertising that it covers the unit for "an additional two years" has once again gotten the company in trouble in Europe, where local laws automatically extend warranties to two years. A lawsuit has been filed in Belgium that mirrors a case Apple lost in Italy over the issue. Apple changed its policy in Italy and paid a fine as a result of the ruling, but hasn't changed practices in all EU countries.
Complaint otherwise resolved
Italian regulators have issued Apple a final fine 200,000 euros, or about $264,000, over the company's handling of AppleCare warranties, reports say. Although the Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato notes that Apple has since fixed its warranty policies, it states that between March 28 and November 10, the company was continuing to fraudulently suggest that an AppleCare plan was needed for two years of warranty coverage, when in reality local laws guarantee that as a minimum. Apple was fined €900,000 ($1.2 million) in March when the Italian government began cracking down on AppleCare marketing.
Option still being sold online
Confirming yesterday's leak, Apple has officially stopped selling AppleCare in first- and third-party Italian retail stores, Reuters reports. An Apple spokesman explains that the policy has actually been in effect since November 9th. People can still buy AppleCare in Italy, but only through Apple's website. An updated notice on the site explains that "AppleCare Protection Plan benefits are in addition to two-year warranty from the seller under the Italian legislation to protect consumers."
Modified online option may be only remaining plan
Apple is removing AppleCare as an option from Apple Stores and third-party retailers in Italy, a leaked email indicates. The message is said to come from Apple Distribution International in Ireland, and adds that Apple is planning to discontinue phone-based AppleCare services in the country. With those options excluded, it appears that the only way of getting AppleCare in the country will be buying it online.
European Commission limited in its own power to affect situation
The European Union's Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, has asked the 27 countries in the Union to look into Apple's warranty policies, Bloomberg reports. Letters sent to the countries specifically ask that they check whether Apple retailers have failed to advertise that customers have a right to a two-year warranty. "Apple prominently advertised that its products come with a one-year manufacturer warranty but failed to clearly indicate the consumers’ automatic and free-of-cost entitlement to a minimum two-year guarantee under EU law," the letters read. "These are unacceptable marketing practices."
'Internal policies were not followed'
Apple has issued an official response to reports about Wired writer Mat Honan having his iCloud account broken into via AppleCare. "Apple takes customer privacy seriously and requires multiple forms of verification before resetting an Apple ID password," the company tells Wired. "In this particular case, the customer’s data was compromised by a person who had acquired personal information about the customer. In addition, we found that our own internal policies were not followed completely. We are reviewing all of our processes for resetting account passwords to ensure our customers’ data is protected."
Mistake wipes out Wired writer's digital footprint
A writer for Wired, Mat Honan, says he has confirmed with both Apple and the hacker that victimized him that his iCloud account was recently compromised by a "social engineering" trick with AppleCare. The hacker managed to get an AppleCare support staffer to skip security questions, and then reset Honan's password, giving the hacker complete access to anything tied to Honan's iCloud account or email address. This included not only personal and Gizmodo Twitter accounts, but also Honan's Gmail account, which was completely wiped out. Making matters even more severe, the hacker used Find My iPhone to perform remote wipes of Honan's Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
Regulators focus on AppleCare warranty
Apple is currently facing yet another international lawsuit over its AppleCare extended warranties. The Portuguese Association for Consumer Protection (DECO) is said to have announced plans to sue the company for misleading customers into paying for unnecessary coverage, as local laws already require electronics manufacturers to honor warranty claims for a period of two years, according to Portuguese blog iPhoneTuga.
Says it is in compliance with two-year warranty law
Apple has rebuffed the complaint of Italy's AGCM antitrust regulatory authority and says it is in compliance with Italian law that mandates two years of original warranty coverage on computer and electronic equipment, and that it will appeal a recent ruling that threatened Apple with a temporary shutdown in the country if it did not more clearly offer a free two-year warranty with its products as required by European Union law.
Company still breaking local law, government says
Apple could face additional fines of up to 300,000 euros (about $377,500) and even temporary closure of its Italian operations if it doesn't start offering free two-year warranties, as required by local law, Reuters reports. Italy's AGCM, which regulates competition and markets, has already fined Apple 900,000 euros over the warranty issue. But months later, it complains that Apple is still failing to comply with demands, and says that the company's Italian division could be shut down for up to 30 days if it doesn't respond with the next 30.
Quiet change in response to legal problems
Apple has silently updated its European websites -- such as the one for the UK -- with a table on the differences between Apple's warranties and ones mandated by the European Union, reports observe. The document is divided into columns for EU law, the default warranties for Apple products, and extended AppleCare coverage. The most contentious point has been that EU law covers two years, whereas Apple only promises one without AppleCare.
Fine of $1.2 million upheld
Apple has lost an appeal in Italy over the terminology used in its AppleCare agreements sold in that country, and will face fines totalling $1.2 million for what the Italian Antitrust Authority deemed "bad commercial policies" and not properly informing buyers of differences between Italian warranty law and Apple's preferred policies. Manufacturer warranties in Italy are required to last two years, a fact Apple has ignored in promoting its AppleCare warranties, the agency found.
Italian case could be first of many
European consumer groups in 11 countries -- including Italy and Germany -- have issued letters to national regulators, asking them to put a stop to the way Apple currently markets its warranties, Bloomberg reports. Apple typically markets its products as having one-year warranties unless a person buys into an AppleCare plan. Under European Union regulations, though, manufacturers are obligated to cover a product for at least two years, making Apple's marketing potentially misleading.
New AppleCare option covers device, peripherals
In tandem with announcing a third-generation iPad, Apple has also brought its AppleCare+ warranty option to the tablet. By default an iPad is only given a limited one-year warranty, with 90 days of free support. Paying $99 extends coverage up to two years, and allows for two incidents of accidental damage, although in each instance a $49 service fee still applies.
Apple TV upgrade to keep prices
Apple's imminent Apple TV update received its price in a last-minute rumor Tuesday night. It would keep the $99 price of before in 9to5's tip. Also mentioned was a $39 price for an unknown accessory with a B82 model number, likely a reference to a new video adapter cable.
Blog post leads to phoney 'takedown' notice
A blogger who has had ongoing difficulty with an AppleCare transfer on a replacement monitor received a rare admission from the company that it suffered some form of system failure in its AppleCare database recently. Upon reporting this and urging readers to revisit their own AppleCare profiles, writer David Boles now claims to have received a warning letter from Apple.
Web link details two-year minimum warranty
Apple has posted a link on its Italian web store, acknowledging its legal dispute with the local government over AppleCare warranties. The link -- simply titled "Communication to protect consumers" -- takes visitors to a PDF file, detailing the government's decision, which resulted in a €900,000 fine. Apple normally only provides a one-year AppleCare warranty for free, but Italian law grants shoppers a minimum of two years of coverage, which Apple is being asked to guarantee by March.
PR person insists company is following Italian law
Apple will appeal a €900,000 fine levied by the Italian government, a PR representative tells The Register. The spokesperson insists that the company is complying with Italian law. Under local regulations, businesses are required to give two years of free warranty support. Apple, though, only provides a one-year warranty by default, requiring buyers to buy an AppleCare package for anything extra.
Italy says Apple help was unclear
Italy's Antitrust Authority said it would fine Apple 900,000 euros, or about $1.2 million, after deciding that the company had conducted "bad commercial practices" with its support. The American firm had reportedly been "unclear" on payments for its extended AppleCare warranty, which earned about 500,000 euros ($650,000) of the fine. The remaining 400,000 euros were for not properly informing customers about how long the warranties would last.
Current topics from the forums
Today in Macnn forums members are discussing the limits of an AppleCare warranty when used with a defected iPhone with Jailbreak, click here to join in. A discussion about converting YouTube videos to MP3s and other compatible formats has been continuing for quite some time, and can be found here.
Trade-in program makes discount possible
[Updated with trade-in details, new Sprint offer] RadioShack stores around the country are now accepting pre-orders on both black and white iPhone 4S models in all capacities with service from either AT&T or Verizon. The company will also accept Sprint pre-orders for the iPhone 4 8GB in black and white today and tomorrow only. RadioShack is using its Trade & Save program to offer customers the option of shaving up to $200 off the price the new iPhone.
Sprint to introduce green, yellow, red categories
A Sprint rep wrote in to Engadget detailing new changes to repair procedures. Since ending the Total Equipment Protection plans, damaged iPhone 4S units will fall into one of three categories. They include green, yellow and red and will be assigned after a diagnosis.
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.
Sprint moves on iPhone 4S insurance, shipping
An internal staff memo has warned Sprint iPhone buyers that they won't have its typical Total Equipment Protection insurance. Customers who buy the phone but need help will only be offered direct replacements when they qualify, SprintFeed has learned. Accidents and repairs will instead have to go through Apple, such as through its AppleCare+ plan.
AppleCare+ covers two iPhone accidents
Apple is now seeding a Gold Master release of iOS 5 to developers. The code is effectively the finished version of the firmware, but should give developers a headstart on testing app compatibility. It also gives Apple a chance to fix any show-stopping bugs that might have survived earlier testing, however unlikely. The public release of iOS 5 is scheduled for October 12th.
May point to timing of iOS 5, iPhone 5 launches
AppleCare workers are being told to be prepare for a surge of iOS-related questions starting on Monday, October 10th, a source claims. In particular, the person tells AppleInsider that his local AppleCare call center is being instructed to expect eight times as much traffic. What if anything Apple might be introducing on that day is uncertain, but given the timing, it could be iOS 5 and/or iCloud.