Manufacturers have multiple reasons for limiting repair options. One is to profit from shorter obsolescence cycles by making it almost as cheap to replace an older product as to have it repaired. “If you can’t repair stuff, you’re forced to participate in the throwaway market,” says Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Assn.
As much as I love my Apple devices, this makes me angry considering I just shipped my mother’s phone back to her in New York instead of buying her the new phone the Apple Store employee suggested I do since she’s on my family data plan.
You see, two years ago, after finding out that my mother was paying over $200 for an outdated Android phone and a tablet with a data plan she never used (that another Verizon employee just signed her up for another year after she asked them to cancel it), my older brother and I signed her up as part of my family plan to cut down on her expenses. As a result, my mother inherited my iPhone 6Plus 64GB* while I inherited my brother’s 6Plus 124GB after he upgraded to the 7, then the X and now the XS.
Now before someone assumes that my iPhone was really old, I work from home which means my phone doesn’t get as much action if I worked outside. I use my laptop way more than anything while my iPhone and iPad are there for me to follow up on things after the laptop is turned off.
But because I’m the main holder of the family cellular account and my mother knows nothing about smartphones, I set it up for her first and then mailed it to her. Well, last month, she told me that her phone could no longer hold a charge and that every time she inserted the charger, it would not charge at all until finally, the phone died.
Unable to help her over the phone, I suggested she take it to the Apple store because maybe the phone just needed a new battery and they supposedly* have this new plan where they’d replace the battery for certain models for free until the end of the year.
So she did and they barely even looked at it and told her that everything was working fine and then they gave it back to her. Two days later, she told me that the phone refused to hold a charge at all and now it was dead again. My brother bought her a set of new cables and she said it worked for a day and then it stopped. So I suggested she take it back to the Apple Store and really have them look at it this time.
Well, they told her that too bad, the phone was dead and that she should just buy an iPhone 7 because it was “on sale for $500.”
“Did they even plug it in?”
“I don’t know. They just said I should just upgrade to the iPhone 7. So can I get a new phone so I won’t have any more problems?”
I told her I’d think about it but in the meantime, I asked her to mail the iPhone 6plus back to me so I could “trade it in for a new one.”
Well, as soon as I got it and charged it (yes, it held the charge just fine), I figured out what was wrong right away.
Turns out, I didn’t turn off the option to automatically download apps and music to the device. So all the apps I was buying for my device or my son’s were being automatically downloaded to her phone until it became too slow, something the people at the Apple Store couldn’t be bothered to figure out because they’d rather sell my mother a new phone.
“How come the Apple Store people didn’t figure that out the two times I brought it there?” she asked me yesterday when I told her that her phone was in perfect working order. “You mean to tell me that you know more about phones than they do?”
“No, Mom, I don’t know more about phones than they do but their job is to sell you a brand new phone, not lift a finger to even look at what’s wrong with your phone,” I replied. “That’s why you’ve told me four times now that the iPhone 7 is on sale for $500.”
I could go on and on about this whole thing but I guess this is the wave of the future. We’ve become a throwaway society, where nothing gets fixed or upgraded anymore because companies like Apple would rather you throw away your “broken” device and a new one. Or they make it next to impossible to have your existing device repairable.
I’m sure if my mother was still in charge of her phone plan, she’d have whipped out her credit card and gotten herself that iPhone 7 and still not know how to work the damn thing because that wasn’t the problem, to begin with. It’s just sad and laughable that to fix her phone, she had to ship it across the country to me and after a few presses of a button, I fixed it and sent it back to her.
*I really don’t believe they have this plan, tbh, and if they do, it’s begrudgingly with the hope that they can talk the customers to upgrading to the latest phone instead like they did to my mother.