AppleCare+ is Less of a Good Deal

I learned about the change yesterday, unhappily. File this story under “read the fineprint department”. Since Apple introduced its extended warranty plan, I have praised the benefits and plucked down the extra $99 for every new iOS device. AppleCare+ extends standard repair coverage to two years and offers fairly affordable replacement—up to two times. Somehow I missed that Apple raised replacement price to $79 from $49 for iPhone.

The saga started around the midday meal. My daughter expressed amazement how last week her iPhone 5s popped out of her jeans and fell from a third-story balcony. No damage. Twenty-minutes later, while we sorted clothes for the thrift store in the garage, she fumbled the device, which fell face flat onto the cement—shattering the screen. No words can describe either of our reactions. The irony was so thick my eyeglasses fogged. 

I made a Genius Bar appointment at the local Apple Store, and we hauled down expecting either a new screen or iPhone for $49. The specialist said replacement would be our only option but for $79. Say what? By chance I wore my Android-logo T-Shirt and wondered about some penalty being applied to me. Because when purchasing the iPhone 5s on Oct. 27, 2013, and adding AppleCare+, no one informed me about the increase.

This morning I called an East Coast Apple Store asking when the change occurred. The specialist couldn’t answer and connected me to a helpful AppleCare+ admin. She thought the new pricing went into effect at the beginning of 2013. “Oh really? My father-in-law dropped his iPhone 5 in the sink last year and the replacement was just $49”. She put me on hold and came back saying Jan. 1, 2014.

But I purchased my daughter’s iPhone 5s months earlier. “Is the change retroactive?” She placed me on hold once more. She returned with firm date: Sept. 10, 2013 and weblink. Here are the old terms and the new ones, for the United States.

Under the new terms, iPhone replacement is $79, but iPad remains $49 and iPod is $29.

I am usually quite informed about things like this, so getting caught paying more than expected is a big surprise. Several Mac news sites reported the cost change last September but Macworld’s headline captures my sentiment: “Apple sneaks in changes to AppleCare+“.

Apple posted the new terms, which is disclosure. But no one discussed them with me when purchasing new iPhones in October and January. There is the AppleCare+ admin, who was extremely friendly and helpful and didn’t know she spoke with a reporter. She knew the correct replacement costs but required research to find out when they changed, which isn’t surprising. I’m sure the question isn’t common. She did her job well, and I discourage Apple form retaliating against her. Focus you ire on this story’s author.

I wonder who else is in my situation—purchasing AppleCare+ with expectation of paying $49 replacement only to fork over $30 more. Were you aware of the new terms before reading this post?

Editor’s Note: A version of this post appears on BetaNews.