In 2021 Apple, under pressure from a Productivity Commission review on the "right to repair," launched its independent repair provider programme in Australia. It was trumpeted as a way for small companies to compete with Apple to repair their products -- such as the iPhone -- using Apple tools and spare parts.
At the time, repairers said they felt the move was a token gesture designed to head off any potential right-to-repair legislation that would have been recommended by the Productivity Commission review. Two years later, some say their fears have been realised.
A number of repairers in Australia and the US suggest Apple's slow response times and the high cost for replacement parts make it almost impossible for them to be viable competitors. The repairers requested anonymity to speak about the program, fearing that reprisals from the California-based tech giant might prevent them from remaining in the programme.
Apple has indicated it takes an average of eight weeks for repairers to be admitted to the programme, but repairers say the time is more like six months. Applications sit in a black hole, without any point of contact within Apple to provide an update on their status.
Once repairers are admitted to the programme, they receive training from Apple, as well as access to Apple parts, tools, repair manuals, and diagnostic software for the company's iPhones and Macs. But they say the price of the parts, and the process to get a discounted rate for replacement parts, make it difficult for repairers to compete with Apple's repair program.
One repairer, who says his business repairs between 30 and 40 Apple products every week, said the average repair takes between an hour to an hour and a half. If it charge the rate Apple charges customers for repairs, then its maximum margin is about $60.