Independent electronics repair expert Louis Rossmann has a long running series of YouTube videos spelling out his opinions on Apple’s policies concerning repair of their devices.
In his latest video, Rossmann focused on Apple’s latest tactic to make it impossible for independent repair shops to fix Apple products.
Apple has begun to “serialize” various components of their products. What this means is that an individual part is hard coded with a serial number which is then registered to the device it is installed in. Each part is assigned its own unique serial number. So every screen manufactured for a specific cell phone will have a different serial number. If that part fails and another part is put in with a different serial number Apple’s software will detect that the serial number is now different and refuse to operate.
Independent repair shops often rely on salvaging working parts from non working devices and using those salvaged parts to repair items for their customers. By serializing parts and then programming the devices to only accept a specific serial number for that part to operate Apple has effectively eliminated the ability of independent repair shops to fix Apple products.
When Rossmann made a video explaining how this was bad for consumers an anonymous person representing themselves as an engineer for Apple explained that this was to protect consumers from cheap replica parts.
Rossmann goes on to question this as the true motive behind Apple’s decision. He points out that Apple is one of the few major device manufacturers that makes ordering genuine parts for their products nearly impossible. This he argues drives the black market for parts by creating a false scarcity of parts. If parts were readily and reasonably priced their would be much less incentive for black market parts.
Rossmann also notes that the whole serial number scheme is already leading to black market websites offering to reprogram devices to accept alternative serial numbers, so all Apple is accomplishing is creating another black market.
Finally to illustrate his point, Rossmann points to a particular issue that he has encountered in several MacBook Pros. A charging capacitor shorts out on the charging board rendering the entire device inoperative. The capacitor costs $5 or less, and Rossmann and many other independent repair shops can easily remove the old capacitor and replace it for a relatively inexpensive repair. Apple requires the entire motherboard to be replaced and will not assure users that their data will be on the repaired machine. All of this at a cost of $1,500.00. The capacitor is specific to Apple products and Apple won’t sell it, so independent repair shops have taken to removing the capacitor from other products that have otherwise failed or from a separate charging case Apple sells for certain phones.
If Apple serializes the capacitor (if that is even possible) customers will be left paying $1,500 and risk losing their data for a repair that should cost $5 plus labor.
Rossmann’s point is that if Apple insists on charging customers $1,500 for a $5 capacitor and maybe at the very high end of the scale $200 in labor how does that speak to their corporate ethics? Why should anything they have to say about repairs be interpreted in any other way than Apple trying to screw their customers?
If any of this interests you I highly recommend watching some of Rossmann’s YouTube videos.