Apple CEO Tim Cook is not the innovator Steve Jobs was in the role of CEO, but one thing he excels at has been retail – and the company’s latest move shows his retail prowess. Apple has decided to start its own iPhone 6s loaner program for those whose iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus need off-site repair. Of course, this presumes that the device in question is badly damaged and simply can’t be done in-store (which is where the current repairs are done, usually). As far as Apple concerned, the device will be sent off-site and a loaned iPhone 6s will be awarded to a customer if one, two, or all three of the following circumstances hold true for each iPhone 6s in question: 1) the iPhone will not turn on, 2) the iPhone boots to the Apple logo and stops, or 3) the iPhone 6s will not connect to iTunes via USB cable and computer.
Now, before you get excited, you should know the implications of Apple’s latest retail decision upon customers. The idea of Apple sending an iPhone 6s off-site as opposed to fixing it in-store means that Apple is now following in the path of other major tech companies, focusing more on iPhone 6s sales and less on helping loyal customers who’ve always held Apple’s customer service as a bragging right. Samsung does the same thing with its stores in the US, sending off Galaxy smartphones whenever there’s a major problem, and Apple is now joining that mindset. The company believes its down-home assistance for iPhones in need of repair is taking time away from helping customers who are coming in to pick up a new iPhone. In other words, money trumps customer assistance.
Next, despite the storage size of the iPhone 6s (whether 16GB, 64GB, or 128GB), you’ll have to make do with a 16GB iPhone 6s should something happen to yours. It’ll take up to a week (7 days) before you get your iPhone back, with 3-5 business days for the off-site repair process to occur.
Not only will this program work for iPhone 6s and 6s Plus customers, however: Apple says the new loaner program will also go into effect for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers who purchased their devices within the last year. One wonders what will happen in the case of an iPhone 5s customer who’s decided to pay additional warranty for his or her device, and it seems as though there are few additional details for now.
All in all, Apple is starting to realize that its once personal approach to helping customers is simply unfeasible with a user base of such magnitude. Unfortunately, customer service has been the one shining area left for Apple, which means that its downfall with the new iPhone 6s loaner program removes the one advantage iPhone users have had above Android users. It’ll be interesting to see if this impacts sales, though we have reason to believe it won’t.