Apple's Self Service Repair program criticized for making 'MacBooks seem less repairable'

Apple Self Service Repair

Some months after launching a self-repair program that gave iPhone owners the opportunity to fix their own devices, Apple expanded it to include MacBook air and MacBook Pro notebooks. On the face of things this is a great move, but the program has been criticized for not only managing to make MacBooks seem less repairable, but also for "presenting DIY repairers with an excruciating gauntlet of hurdles".

The criticism comes from none other than iFixit, a site well known for its device teardowns and the repairability ratings it assigns them. Singled out for particular attention is the process of replacing a MacBook Pro battery, the instructions for which stretch to an incredible 162 pages.

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In addition to requiring would-be repairs to "read the entire manual first" (yep, all 162 pages), there is the mater of cost. The design of the MacBook Pro means that in order to replace the battery, you'll need to buy a "Top Case with Battery and Keyboard" for the best part of $500. You will almost certainly also need to part with the cash to hire the tools needed to get the job done, making the process not only time-consuming and risky, but also incredibly expensive.

Writing for iFixit, Sam Goldheart says:

Along with the manuals, Apple is presenting DIY repairers with an excruciating gauntlet of hurdles: read 162 pages of documentation without getting intimidated and decide to do the repair anyway, pay an exorbitant amount of money for an overkill replacement part, decide whether you want to drop another 50 bucks on the tools they recommend, and do the repair yourself within 14 days, including completing the System Configuration to pair your part with your device.  Which makes us wonder, does Apple even want better repairability?

It's a fair question, and it fits neatly into the Right to Repair debate. Apple can now argue, truthfully, that users are being given the opportunity to repair their device themselves if they want to.

But at the same time, it is reasonable to point out that the company is placing sufficient obstacles in the way -- in the form of impenetrably long instructions and hefty prices -- to make it of interest to so few people that Apple need hardly be concerned about losing money by people going down the DIY route. It is safe to assume that the Self Service Repair program will prove discouraging to people so they continue to take their devices to Apple stores for repair instead.

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