Apple Replaces The Out-Of-Warranty iPod Touch I Broke For Free

Unlike houseplants, iPod Touches don’t take kindly to watering. After Emily accidentally victimized her device in such a manner, she contacted Apple to see what it would cost to replace it. When she balked at the price, a helpful customer service rep sent her a free one.

She writes:

I know hearing a story about how Apple goes above and beyond isn’t new to you guys, but I just got back from the nearby mall and have to share my story.

For Christmas 2008 I got a 16GB iPod Touch, and it was working perfectly until I spilled water on it about three weeks ago. After that it wouldn’t even turn on. I made an appointment at a Genius Bar to see if there was anything they could do or if they could recommend a repair center. The employee who helped me, Mike, explained that liquid damage isn’t covered under their warranty, and in any case, mine expired a long time ago. He said I could get a replacement for $150, which I was more than willing to pay if I needed to. He then said he needed to check something, and went to the back. When he came back he told me that since I never had to take advantage of my warranty when I had it, he could make a special exception and give me a new iPod Touch for free! I couldn’t believe it; I almost jumped out of my chair and hugged him. He gave me a new one of the same model I had.

I am still in shock over this- they didn’t charge me at all and it was entirely my fault it didn’t work. They have definitely secured me as a customer for life.

What’s the luckiest you’ve gotten when you’ve sought to replace a broken electronic device?

Comments

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  1. Rocket says:

    I’m impressed, Apple.

  2. Mpowered says:

    Apple is awesome about this. My iPhone 3GS crapped out on me a couple weeks before the iPhone 4 was released and 3 days after the warranty ran out. They replaced it for me no questions asked citing a one time exception.

    Apple rocks at customer service (although you do pay for it).

    • nbs2 says:

      How’d that work? June 19 is only five days before June 24. You might have been five days out of warranty, at most.

  3. danmac says:

    Question: on a scale of 1 to 10, how attractive is the OP?

    • Rocket says:

      I was wondering this too.

    • TVGenius says:

      I’ll go with at least an 8 based on the name alone. ha ha

    • kurtmac says:

      Control experiment: I would be willing to break my 1st Gen iPod Touch, with which I’ve never needed warranty service, to see if the Geniuses give a free replacement to a tall, lanky, bearded dude.

      • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

        A friend of mine has a charisma modifier of +9000; he was able to score a Droid 2 shortly after launch when he broke his Droid 1, just by asking at the store.

        He would not be considered attractive by modern standards; he’s kind of a big burly mountain-man.

        • kurtmac says:

          It is probably an inverse bell curve of hotness – average looking – intimidating mountain man that can get you free stuff. If I thought the guy could gut me like like a baby deer I’d give him a free phone too.

    • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

      haha…I was thinking the exact same thing. I could see this being the next Dateline special…do attractive women get treated the same as less atractive women at the Apple Store…maybe the title is too long…

    • Portlandia says:

      This same thing happened with my iPhone and I’m not a girl…and not a 10.

    • montusama says:

      As for the looks of the OP or the employee. It really depends on the employee in that situation. One you may find attractive, but another person won’t.

      Yeah I’ll take it maybe the employee liked Emily in some way ;P

    • th3v6cann3val0s3 says:

      EXACTLY.

      I can’t tell you how many times my (male) friends and I have tried to see if ‘Apple can do something’ with broken hardware; I completely missed the sex of the OP when I wondered “maybe Apple improved their customer service” and then I realized it was too good to be true.

      • th3v6cann3val0s3 says:

        Also, I can’t tell you how many times pretty girls have been ‘magically’ skipped on the line and accommodated first @ the ‘genius’ bar.

        Hey, I’m a guy and a tech also. I’m guilty of the same sh*t. But to post it on consumerist and frame it as some sort of shining example of ‘customer service’ is WRONG. If this were a double standards and/or gender rights blog maybe.

  4. Portlandia says:

    Yes, same thing happened about 4 months into owning my iPhone 3Gs. Freak accident caused case to crack and screen broke. I took it into apple, gave them my sob story and the manager gave me a new iPhone 3Gs.

    I was in shock to say the least, this type of thing will keep me as an apple customer.

    Even thought this morning my alarm failed to go off and I overslept by about 30 minutes.

  5. Schmullus says:

    “When she balked at the price” & “a helpful customer service rep sent her a free one”

    versus

    “He said I could get a replacement for $150, which I was more than willing to pay if I needed to.” & “He then said he needed to check something, and went to the back. When he came back… …he could make a special exception and give me a new iPod Touch for free! “

    How is being ok with paying the replacement cost balking at the price. And since when is going in the back sending something out?

    • regis-s says:

      I was wondering when someone would comment on that. Since Phil wrote it I was sure it would be the first comment made

  6. ellmar says:

    When my six year old iMac died and they couldn’t repair it Apple replaced it with a brand new computer – completely free. I never even bought Apple Care on the first computer. And although danmac seems to imply that Apple only offers this kind of service to smoking hot “10″s, I can assure you that I do not fall into that category – or anywhere near it!

  7. Amnesiac85 says:

    This is cool, but, I had a couple friends in similar situations who were not so lucky. It’d be interesting to see who they make these exceptions for.

  8. coren says:

    “balked”

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    On another note, is the typical warranty on these one year? I don’t know where I got the impression that Apple Care was always two years (meaning she should be a few days out of warranty, not “long” out of it) but I very well could be wrong.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      AppleCare does provide two full years of coverage from when you buy it: http://store.apple.com/us/product/APPLECAREIPOD-102589?mco=MTYzNjAwNDE

      But the OP never mentioned AppleCare. Apple provides a standard one year warranty for anyone who doesn’t buy AppleCare, and AppleCare extends it by another year. If she didn’t have AppleCare, then yes, she’s way outside her warranty.

    • ellmar says:

      balk |bôk| ( Brit. also baulk)
      verb [ intrans. ]
      hesitate or be unwilling to accept an idea or undertaking : Any gardener will at first balk at enclosing the garden.

      • coren says:

        I don’t know about you but

        “He said I could get a replacement for $150, which I was more than willing to pay if I needed to”

        sounds nothing like balking to me.

  9. NoThankYou says:

    I had the similar experience with Apple Store support. My son dropped the iPod touch and shattered the screen. It was out of warranty and I went to the Apple store to see if I could get it repaired or replaced with the $150.00 charge I expected.

    The person that helped me told me it would be $150.00 to replace as the screen cannot be fixed. She then proceeds to tell me to wait on second while she checked something on the computer. When she came back she handed my wife a replacement free of charge. She told us that she just extended our warranty a few extra months to cover the replacement.

    Apple products may be overpriced, but their customer service sometimes makes up for that.

  10. LightningUsagi says:

    Wait, people get PAID to break stuff? I always do it for free…

  11. anobara says:

    On Dec. 31, I took my early 2008 model MacBook (no extended Warranty) into an Apple Store up in Canada to see if I could sweet talk them into replacing my battery for free. It works (worked) great, still holds a long charge, etc. but it had swollen to the point of making the track-pad all jankey. I was hoping it would be “dangerous” so they’d have to replace it.

    The nice Genius Bar genius said that unfortunately I’d have to buy a new one. But then she saw that my top case was chipped (due to a defective design), which Apple has been somewhat silently been replacing even out of warranty upon request. She saw on my repair history that I had had it replaced once already for free a year and a half ago. Since it had been chipped again, long story short, she snuck my batter replacement in under the case replacement code so I got a free battery, new case, and trackpad repair (worth almost $300 according to the invoice), all gratis. Happy New Year to me. Thanks, Apple!

  12. Jezz1226 says:

    Lenovo fixed my broken screen on my netbook for free a few weeks ago. How it broke was unclear, but regardless it was out of warranty and not a repair covered under warranty regardless, so very nice and helpful of them. Granted, I e-mailed the CEO to make it happen, but still…

  13. Blueskylaw says:

    “A helpful customer service rep sent her a free one”

    Is this the same guy who was recently a flight attendant and grabbed a beer before activating an emergency slide on an airplane?

  14. downhillski1 says:

    Apple replaced the logic board on my Mac Pro which was a few months out of warranty and even did a rush repair. Saved me $1000!

  15. adamstew says:

    I identify as an Apple Fanboy, so please take my comments with some skepticism:

    With Apple, they don’t care if you caused the problem. They will attempt to help you with it. If it’s something that can be fixed without any hardware replacements, then they won’t even charge you anything… regardless of whether you’re the problem or not. If it is something that does require a hardware replacement, they will 9 times out of 10 give the customer the benefit of the doubt and repair the affected hardware free of charge… often times if you aren’t even in your warranty.

    I am in charge of all the computers and electronic equipment at my company, and every time we have any problem with any apple anything, we’re always able to take it to the store and have it exchanged with little or no effort.

    Time for my anecdotal evidence:

    Time for my anecdotal evidence:

    1) I had a classic iPod… at one point the click wheel started to become warped. It was raised up ever so slightly at the N, S, E, and W points and pushed down ever so slightly at the corners. It wasn’t even a problem that had any impact on functionality. It was a purely cosmetic issue. I took it to the apple store, he asked if I knew what happened, and I honestly didn’t. I told him I suspected it was because I left it in my car 24/7 (hot summer sun, cold winter nights, etc.). He said it wasn’t a problem and replaced it.

    2) The built-in keyboard and mouse on my Macbook Pro would randomly stop responding. Software was still responsive, I would continue to receive emails, IMs, and I could plug in an external keyboard and mouse and continue to work. So it was clearly a hardware problem. To fix it, all I had to do was power cycle. Problem was, it happened EXTREMELY infrequently (like once every 3-4 days). Unless I happened to get extremely lucky I wasn’t going to be able to reproduce it. I made an appointment anyway, I told him what was happening, what my own diagnosis was (faulty keyboard or connector)…Of course I wasn’t able to get it to reproduce the issue. He said it could possibly be caused by the OS however, when I expressed a dislike in having to redo all my OS and settings, he said it wasn’t a problem.. he replaced the entire keyboard and trackpad assembly. Problem went away for several months. Started happening again. Different Apple tech guy, same story… brought it in, told him the problem, couldn’t reproduce, said it could possibly be the OS but he fixed it anyway. Over a year later (i’m using the same OS install) and I haven’t had the problem again. If this were most other PC manufacturers they would have required me to reinstall the OS to prove it wasn’t a software problem, assuming they even believed me to begin with about my VERY intermittent keyboard/trackpad problem.

    3) A different MacBook Pro that I care for had a battery that started to bulge one day. The machine was well out of warranty and it was probably the original battery that came with the machine. Made an appointment and showed them the battery. They looked up the s/n of the machine and found it was over a year out of warranty. They decided to replace it anyway.

  16. kjherron says:

    One problem with customer service like this is that it’s arbitrary. Back in ’05 my wife bought an iMac. Last year, the power supply started failing. She didn’t want to upgrade for some reason, so I did some research and learned that Apple had extended the power supply warranty on computers like hers due to a quality issue. Unfortunately the warranty extension had ended in ’08.

    I told her that I’d seen stories here on Consumerist of Apple customer service going above and beyond, and suggested she call them to see what could be done. She called them, and well, there was no above and beyond that day. I ended up buying a used power supply off of the Internet (which incidentally crapped out yesterday, sigh).

    • Veritas says:

      I’ve found that when you go into the store, you’ll have a much better experience.

      Like one of the other commenters above, I’ve had two real problems that have required Apple assistance:

      First, the hard drive on my Macbook Pro (which is now out of warranty by about six months; the warranty was just ending when this occurred) completely failed. I have no idea why, and still don’t know to this day (I even opened the drive up to see what was what – the needle head that reads the platters had come off and was clicking against the side; but there was no reason for that to have happened). Apple phone support’s answer was that this stuff “just happens” and there was nothing I could do but take it to a store and have it replaced – fortunately, once I got to the store, the process was smooth and I played on a Mac Pro for an hour and a half while I waited, then got back my system with a new drive, in perfect order.

      Second, my battery had the same “expanding” problem another commenter spoke about earlier – it wasn’t holding a proper charge and was bumping against the trackpad such that I couldn’t click. That was no problem; took it in, got a new one, issue gone. However, I did learn that the battery has a recommended maximum number of charges – 180, to be precise, and mine had 181. I was surprised, and this has lead me to worry about the lithium-ion batteries in my other devices, which I now assume also must have some failure date.

      In any case, both items, the support was very good and very understanding, but again, I was within warranty. I was never really offered a concrete explanation of what happened to my first hard drive, though – after working perfectly for three years (in mostly stationary conditions) it just stopped.

    • ellmar says:

      I think people who can take their products into an Apple store (instead of simply calling to inquire) will have better luck getting things repaired or replaced for free. In my case, I agreed to pay to have my computer repaired. The estimate was $800, but after working on it for about 10 days they called and said the repairs would be done at no charge. A week after that they said it couldn’t be fixed and they gave me a new one.

      Try taking the computer into an Apple store.

  17. RosevilleWgn says:

    You happen to think they are not trying to clear stock of a product introduced in 2008? I’m sure she got a refurb anyway. Genius bar, indeed. I suppose if you take into account the average Apple user, I guess they would be “genius”. *eyeroll*

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It doesn’t matter whether it was a refurb. She broke her iPod, got a replacement for free. Plus, Apple still makes and sells the iPod Touch and continues to introduce upgrades. I don’t know where you get that Apple is just clearing stock. It’s not like the iPod Touch has been discontinued. Your Apple hate doesn’t help your argument.

      • Rocket says:

        He means they are clearing stock of the old model iPod touches.

        • RosevilleWgn says:

          Exactly. Why not make an “exception” this time around. It’s a twofor, the customer thinks they got a deal, and Apple gets some shelf space.

      • blogger X says:

        I think RosevilleWgn was referring to that specific model, most likely the first gen, which has been discontinued.

    • cardigan says:

      Most of the Apple users I know are businesspeople, scientists, doctors, or in law. What exactly are you trying to prove?

      • RosevilleWgn says:

        Every carreer you just mentioned (except the generic “businuess people”) has a hyperfocused type personality that precludes spending time on complicated devices. They WANT something “simple”. Take that as you will.

  18. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Wouldn’t it be preferable to get paid to break an iPod Touch?

  19. Bardiel says:

    Id had the issue back when the Ipod 30 GB was all the rage. Dead Battery and they replaced the unit in full. The genius didn’t get me a used Ipod… he got me a Brand new one. I was shocked a week out of warranty and he took it in the back said he can’t do anything and handed me a new one with a paper to sign. Got to love those Genius guys and girls who know consumers will recommended and help boost their business. Kudos to you Apple workers.

  20. victry1 says:

    Well, I used to think Apple’s customer service was great too. Maybe it’s so only on the cheaper things. I have a 2008 MBP that has had 16 repairs including 4 hardware replacements, that include the HD, display, and super drive & battery. If it finally worked, it wouldn’t be a problem. But, after all this, it STILL doesn’t work properly. I can’t get satisfaction from anyone, least of all at the genius bar. Needless to say, I won’t be going into that store again and will not be rushing to buy anymore Apple products. (of which I have many).

  21. Bix says:

    Years ago I had a 20 gig 4th gen iPod (Classic). I got one replacement under warranty, but when it failed again, Apple refused to fix/replace it for free because it was from Gratis Networks’ FreeiPod.com and the warranty clock started when they bought it since they’re not an authorized reseller. I dunno if things changed or if people have better luck with the stores than phone support, but there you have it.

  22. nallanos says:

    2 weeks ago I brought in my iphone 4 that I dropped from my ceiling. It was utterly broken and unusable. Apple replaced it for free with no questions asked. They’ve always been stellar if you can wade through the myriad of people in the store.

  23. TheyCallMeMcGyver says:

    2 years ago at our local Danbury Apple Store, I purchased what I thought was a 24 inch iMac. Instead, it was a 21″ one. I walked out of the store before I realized what happened. Walked back in only a minute later and explained the problem. They gave me a $90 discount right on the spot for “all the trouble they caused me.” That discount together with the Education Discount, free Back to School printer, free Back to School iTouch, and greatly reduced sales tax as compared to my state of residence yielded over $600 in savings. Apple has treated me well.

  24. DrJack says:

    I ran over my Iphone last year just 6 months into my contract! Don’t ask how. PT Cruiser versus Iphone left my phone screen completely dead but not cracked or showing visible marks. I confessed my problem to a representative over the phone. He chuckled just a little and then proceeded to waive the $200 charge.

  25. ShariC says:

    I have read and been told about Apple doing all sorts of stuff out of warranty, and I have been buying Macs and Apple products since the Apple Plus and they have never done anything for me out of warranty except replace a lose “delete” key. They always wanted to charge and arm and a leg for any repair of any kind, even if the device was just barely out of warranty.

    I think Apple does free repair and replacement occasionally to keep up exactly this type of PR, but my experience as a very long-time customer is that this is either rare or highly situational (such as it is done only with particular problems and devices). As someone who mainly buys desktops and the occasional low-end laptop, I think I have not pursued a repair that falls within the range of these types of freebies. Most of my repair needs are for dead hard drives and optical devices (things which frequently fail within the first two years on Apple desktop computers). Ultimately, the cost of having Apple deal with it out of warranty is so ridiculous that I do it myself after asking at the shops about the price.

    I think freebies are mainly applied to high end computer purchases (especially laptops in the “Pro” line) and items that have widespread (though sometimes incidental) flaws. Don’t expect this of Apple just because of these types of stories. That’s not a criticism of Apple, just a fact from the view of a long-term customer who has bought a ton of Apple products and hasn’t lived this experience once.

    • shockwaver1 says:

      I find the same thing. I’ve not had quite the history but I have had a few issues that were very expensive to fix (IE, had a cable on the DVD drive of my iMac fry/come loose two years after I bought it. 5 cent part, and 15 minutes of labour cost me $125). I know I could have done it easily if I had a PC, but meh – I still like my macs.

      They did do an express fix on it for free, which was nice I guess.

  26. Ceric Neesh says:

    My iPad took a VERY nasty fall (with me on top of it) down a flight of stairs. Went into the Apple store, fully expecting to pay the $300 replacement fee for it. Well, the iPad itself worked perfectly, despite several major dents in the aluminum case and having a screen so shattered you could barely read anything on the screen. They ended up replacing my iPad for free with a better model, saying that they wanted to send my damaged one back to the engineers so they could see how it survived so well (apparently they hadn’t had one survive that kind of damage before)

  27. Robert Nagel says:

    I bought a first generation 5gb iPod when they first came out. It came with a 6 month warranty and proceeded to die at about 9 months. I pried it apart, leaving numerous scratches, just to see what it looked like inside since it didn’t work. For some reason I decided to look into the warranty conditions for the new iPods in case I decided to get a new one. Lo and behold, the new warranty was 1 year and there was my model, listed in the 1 year warranty pool. I sent it off, scratches and all, and received a new iPod shortly.
    They didn’t have to take care of me, but they did.

  28. lotussix says:

    i have nothing bad to say about apple. in my household i have a pc for work but i also have an imac, a macbook, a macbook pro, an iphone 3gs and an iphone 4.

    one of my friends has a film company and the gift that he got for the shareholders were ipads. i did not like them when i was in the store but after using one in the comfort of his living room, i am pretty sure i will pick up the next model and am considering getting a newer imac.

    the only thing i wish for is that if you have an iphone and an ipad that at&t will allow you to use your data plan (mine is the 2 gig cap) for both. i don’t come anywhere close to the 2 gigs as i use wifi at home and when i am in the office. i do not like the $30/month “tax” to be able to use my ipad when not in a wifi area.

  29. DashTheHand says:

    I would have been impressed if they would have made the same offer to myself and the thousands of millions of other people that they have laughed at and told to “Buy a new one or F off.”

  30. Tranquillado says:

    I’m late to this love-in but I’d like to share a quick anecdote involving Apple’s customer/tech support:

    In late October my iPhone 3G started draining its battery from a full charge in ~60 minutes, and would remain stuck in landscape mode unless I rebooted it. Yay, a 2-fer of trouble! My iPhone (as well as my wife’s) were still under AppleCare warranty so I submitted a request online to have a tech person call.

    Once connected I described the trouble; the tech supporter made agreeable noises like “Ah, okay” and “Mm-hmm.” His first question when I finished: “Which version of iOS do you have installed?”

    “3.1.3.”

    “Okay, the first thing I want you to do is update your phone to the latest version of iOS, which is 4.2.”

    I informed the tech supporter I had not updated to 4.x because of the myriad problems it causes 3G iPhones. He replied, “Really? And how did you find this out?” I laughed and said, “Come on, it’s been documented online, even on Apple’s own forums about the headaches iOS 4 makes for the iPhone 3G.” He pretended to have absolutely no idea what I was talking about and insisted I update my phone to 4.2. I said no way; then he said he couldn’t help me. “Then I can’t help you” were his exact words. I told him I wasn’t angling for a new phone, I just wanted mine to work like it had been for almost two years.

    “I cannot help you unless you update your iPhone to iOS 4.2.”

    An hour later I received by e-mail a link to a questionnaire or survey about the quality of technical support I’d gotten. With a bitter laugh I tapped the Delete button and went on about my day.

  31. cheli02 says:

    I recently brought my MBP into the store as I thought my AppleCare was about to expire. Turns out I had the date of purchase wrong and I was already 6 days out of warranty. I’d already had the Magsafe part of the power cord replaced once due to the plug failing, had just purchased a new battery that wasn’t holding its charge, and my screen had numerous flaws in it, due to some sort of problem with the backing film (not pixellation, weird bright remnants on the screen). I’d previously brought in the screen to be looked at but hadn’t had it fixed at the time because I needed the computer. On top of all that, my dog had knocked the MBP onto the floor so the top corners of the computer were dented and the corners of the case were slightly opened.

    The guy at the genius bar said that even though it was out of warranty and there was no way to prove that I hadn’t damaged the screen when it fell (I didn’t, the remnants were there almost from day one but had gotten worse over time), they would fix it. Handed me a new-style magsafe and a new battery, told me to come back for the computer in a few days. I got what appears to be an entirely new computer back – however, I’m not sure if it is because my understanding is when they replace the screen they have to replace the entire outer case. Either way I am of course thrilled.

    FWIW, fairly attractive young 30s female. Wearing a bit of a low cut shirt. On purpose.
    Hey, studies show women get totally screwed over at car mechanics – just trying to level the playing field.