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01-28-2012, 05:58 PM #1
Apple Repair Policy Benefiting Thieves
Can you pick out the criminal?
Consumer rights journalist Mitch Lipka wrote an interesting op-ed for Reuters highlighting what he describes as the potential rampant abuse of Apple’s repair policy by criminals.
Apple’s return policy is an interesting exercise in convenience over confirmation. When buying a new iPhone Apple ties the simple one year warranty, and even the Apple Care extended warranty, to the product's serial number and nothing more. The owner of the device is not described at all when Genius Bar folk check a device's warranty status. Lipka claims this makes “the ease of trading in stolen iPhones and selling their replacements makes them nearly as tempting as grabbing cash."
Obviously the lucrative legitimate second-hand market for iDevices and Mac products wouldn’t benefit from a more complicated warranty system, but Lipkin argues the current system makes it too easy for criminals to steal, break, and then sell replacement iPhones.
Lipkin highlights the case of a local college girl who had her iPhone swiped, and then received an automated email informing her that her repaired iPhone was ready for pickup at a local Apple Store. When she tried to claim the device the Apple store employees wouldn’t give her the phone because she wasn’t the one who brought it in.
While it would be easy to write off Lipkins concerns as somewhat paranoid, iPhone do attract more attention during thefts as they accounted for 70% of phones reported stolen to the NYPD between January and October of 2011.
Any MMi members have their iDevice stolen or have a similar experience to the girl mentioned in Lipkin’s piece?
*Yes using Find My iPhone seems like the obvious solution, but if the iPhone isn’t on and is “broken” it becomes somewhat useless.*
01-28-2012, 07:38 PM #2
I had a very strange incident awhile back where I called Apple because I was having issues with my i4 and my Apple Care Reg. # and serial # of my phone was actually linked to somebody else. It took me 7 months to get the issue sorted out. The saddest part of it all is that they had an AT&T (me) serial linked to somebody that had a Verizon phone (the OTHER person). I was later told by Apple that there was 9 different repair claims on devices as well as a replacement iPhone 4 was given to this person on my Apple Care account. I believe (after experiencing it first hand) that Apple has a lot of flaws in their apple care service plans.
01-28-2012, 08:00 PM #3
Oh man even when I was in high school, stolen iPhones was such a lucrative business.
01-28-2012, 08:03 PM #4
You will NEVER be able to get applecare on a used iphone if you link to owners because of how much CRAP you'd have to go through if you bought one on ebay. Very bad punishment for honest people.
01-28-2012, 08:22 PM #5
By law, Apple is required to return the device to the person who sought a repair. If anyone that the girl in the news post talked to knew their stuff, they would have said to seek police assistance who can then request that Apple hand over the repair information in order to catch the thief.
01-28-2012, 08:28 PM #6
01-28-2012, 09:33 PM #7
01-28-2012, 10:12 PM #8
Apple isn't the police. Plus, think of how many people buy used iphones with warranty still left on them. they'd have to report to apple the new ownership, and would apple transfer the warranty to the new owner? be careful what you ask for.
01-28-2012, 10:23 PM #9
First..I've NEVER lost ANY idevice. Second..if i DID..i'd call Apple give them the S/N to make sure...& call the cops...incase they tried to something Funny. There's ways of getting it done..it's just the steps required to Do it..
01-28-2012, 10:59 PM #10
01-29-2012, 12:39 AM #11
If the police try and request personal information (serial number, IMEI, date of purchase, etc), then things can be done.
01-29-2012, 04:02 AM #12
I wish manufacturers, not just Apple, were required to check serials with the stolen property lists just like nearly every pawn shop is required to. That would kill off much of the 'reseller thief' risk that is prevalent nowadays.
And yes I do know how this is, considering I was in such a situation about 3 years ago. I had a 'Genius Bar' survey asking about a recent service show up in my inbox about 2 months after my 3G disappeared near a local university. I contacted Apple and the police about it (I had it reported stolen), but nothing happened. Very much disheartening.Member of the hackint0sh forums.
HowardForums Member: Haas_Dave
01-29-2012, 07:01 AM #13
01-29-2012, 11:25 AM #14
Ex Apple employee here. At the few stores I worked at we were told we couldn't mark anything as stolen in the system. (and just to let you know there is not a check box that says "stolen") I also saw all the time people come to get the phone fixed and I had to change the name on work document to match the new clients name. Once you bring in a product for repair we USUALLY had to get your info and put that on the ticket/documentation which in all reality changes ownership (it matches that name with that serial number and IMEI)
01-29-2012, 11:34 AM #15
they dont even have to steal your phone....all they need as the IMEI number and a stolen credit card. They call apple and request a repair saying they have no apple store near them, apple sends them a new iphone using the stolen credit card info, and mails them a refurb, expecting the defective unit to be returned...but when its not returned, they just charge the CC
i know this because i used to buy alot of iphones to sell on ebay (sealed), and one day a few months later i get an email saying my replacement phone is being shipped to some random address in another city couple hours away, when i never even activated the phone (the IMEI was linked to me because i give my email address for the receipts when ipurchase them knew instead of paper receipt) . i made apple aware of what was up but i dont think they changed their policies....
so when youre buying a new iphone on craigslist and it comes with the refub box (which apple never gives you), you know how this phone was obtained.....
01-29-2012, 03:21 PM #16
01-30-2012, 11:38 AM #17
For what you pay for an Apple product, and it's supposed "luxury" status, you would think they would just check the gps on the phone and tell you where it is. How long could that really take?
01-30-2012, 01:52 PM #18
01-31-2012, 10:29 AM #19
No not 24/7 365 a year... rather upon owners request.
I have no idea why Apple does not have "reported stolen or lost" S/N data base. They don't have to go hunt ppl down but they could forward that information to the police.
Say you lost an iPhone, or someone snatches it... go to or call Apple and tell them so and provide an email you can be reached at... if in the future they see that that s/n was activated or brought back for repair all they will have to do is shoot you an email. You can than take that email and "proof of purchase", and of course few cops and recover your device. As it stands all it shows is that they don't care about ppl stealing other ppl stuff. There just isn't an argument against what I am saying. I am pretty sure tho that they just simply are trying to keep them selves out of loop but its very wrong, especially considering how worshiped they are by some ppl.
Last edited by hadzo; 01-31-2012 at 02:33 PM. Reason: some spell checks
01-31-2012, 09:54 PM #20
Stolen Iphones, The Police, AT&T, et al .....
It's pretty simple, really!
These people don't care because they see this as a victimless crime! ("oh you lost your phone. too bad! did you have insurance!?)
Additionally, they ALL get MORE SALES-MORE MONEY BY REPLACING THE LOST ITEM RATHER THAN RECOVERING IT!
I personally lost an Iphone 3GS that was jailbroken and had all my CD's on it, ETC. The Police, ATT, Apple, none of them did ANYTHING to help me. Even after I filed for lost item. I asked all of them if they could track my iphone and they said NO.
I know this is a lie, because I witnessed an auto accident and called the police on 911 and in 5 minutes a cop car was at the scene asking me if I was the guy who called 911! Money talks and ******** walks!
So I ended up purchasing an Iphone 4 for $300...Lucky ME...WTF!