Apple could do away with its famous iPhone walk-in replacement policy in an attempt to cut costs: Report

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Apple is set to make big changes to its service support programs and AppleCare that could have an impact on its famous iPhone walk-in replacement policy and, in the long term test its position as the undisputed king of customer satisfaction, if a new report is to be believed.

Apple focused news website, Apple Insider, reports that the company conducted a town hall session in which it informed its tech staff that it'll be making changes to the service programs starting this Fall in an attempt to cut costs and make them attractive for consumers. The changes would be first brought to the service in the US and later rolled out to other regions. The site mentions that the town hall was led by Apple Vice President Tara Bunch.

Among the changes, a major one would be how Apple deals with faulty iOS devices. Currently, if you walk in to an Apple service centre with, say, a faulty iPhone the company gives you a brand new one right away, as long as your device is under warranty. However, the report cites an internal source to suggest that the company will now repair and return the same device to the consumer, like it does with Macs.

If this change is enforced, Apple will lose its edge over other handset manufacturers, as its policy would not be any different than that of other handset makers like Samsung, Nokia or HTC, across various regions. However, the move might benefit customers whose devices are out of warranty. Currently, Apple lets these users to trade-in their faulty devices for new ones after paying a percentage of the new device's price. The move would allow such customers to get their devices repaired by paying only for the component that needs to be changed, in addition to the service costs.

According to the report, by July 2013, Apple Stores will have the capability to conduct major repairs on iOS devices including change cameras, sleep/ wake buttons and logic boards.

As per the report, Apple expects to save nearly $1 billion in an year after implementing these changes.

Another major change being reported is how Apple charges users for AppleCare, its extended warranty program. The report indicates that Apple might introduce a subscription model for the service and attach it to a consumer, covering all products instead of the consumer needing to buy AppleCare packs for individual products, as prevalent.

The new system is also expected to introduce a training program for consumers and exclusive 24/7 support. It also might bring extended one year phone support for products instead of the existing 90 days after sales phone support, in select countries.

The report also suggests that Apple would also start offering support over iMessages and enhance knowledge and support articles on its website adding interactive tutorials and video content. Apple's representatives will also play a bigger role in discussion boards, answering consumers' questions, and maintaining the forums.

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