14 Days To Return The iPhone, 10% Restocking Fee If Box Is Opened

If you’re planning on buying an iPhone, make sure you won’t have buyer’s remorse because if you do, it’ll cost you 10%. AT&T has released a PDF of “pre-purchase understandings” that read like warnings:

• You have to have iTunes and a credit card to activate the phone. It even runs your credit, which is sort of scary. You can also choose to have your credit pre-approved in an AT&T store.

• “To use iPhone, you’ll need to sign up for a 2-year service agreement or a renewed 2-year service agreement if you’re an existing AT&T (formerly Cingular) wireless customer.” Existing customers can keep their voice plans, but must sign up for the iPhone data plan.

• “iPhone is covered by the Apple Warranty. There is no eligibility for the wireless phone insurance program.”

• “You can return your iPhone within 14 days for a full refund, but there is a 10% restocking fee if the box has been opened.”

Here’s the rest of the return policy from the FAQ:

Q. Do you have a special return policy for iPhones?
A. Yes. Apple branded equipment is covered by a 14-day return policy and must be returned to the original point of purchase. If the Apple branded equipment is returned unopened and in the original shrink wrapping, it will be refunded back to the original payment method. Opened Apple branded equipment that is returned within 14 days will be subject to a 10% open box restocking fee. All products must be packed in their original, unmarked packaging including any accessories and manuals that shipped with the product.

iPhone Frequently Asked Questions [AT&T]
Pre-purchase understandings (PDF) [AT&T]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Jaysyn was banned for: https://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Sounds like they are expecting it to suck so bad there will be a consumer backlash.

  2. Keeko_ca says:

    Meh…pretty standard and reasonable practice. No?

  3. superlayne says:

    So I have 14 days to steal unholy amounts of expensive cellphones and return them for a profit? Aw shucks.

  4. Greeper says:

    something tells me youll be able to sell them on ebay at break-even for a while

  5. sleze69 says:

    This is not standard practice. New phones normally have the same return policy and regular phones. So if you buy an iPhone and realize that you can’t use your mp3s as ringtones and want to return it…uh-oh…that’ll be a $50 “rental” fee.

  6. mendel says:

    There’s nothing specifically scary about running credit; that’s the case for any phone plan that isn’t prepaid.

  7. milty45654 says:

    Forget about all of this…where is the honey pot(geeksquad video)?

  8. ironchef says:

    sounds pretty fair to me. It’s not costco you know where every freeloader brings it back for ANY reason.

  9. Asherah says:

    Why is this policy such a surprise…its an Apple product, this is standard. And the credit check…? That’s run for every attempt to initiate a cell contract.

  10. Soultrance says:

    I think by teaming with AT&T to offer the phone, you will have to jump through way to many hoops just to get your hands on the thing.

    I want one just for the widescreen, touchscreen and WiFi features, I don’t want one for a phone, but you can’t even do that without activating it and activation requires a minimum 2 year contract with AT&T.

    Very lame.

  11. SBR249 says:

    I guess you’ll have to know if you’ll be dissatisfied before you tear open the package. Oh well, that’s pretty much standard practice for many electronics and computer stuff these days.

  12. kamel5547 says:

    I think everyone missed the point of the credit check, yes it is standard to have a credit check done, but if you read carefully it is optional to have it done in the store, otherwise it appears the check will be done when you activate the phone through iTunes.
    “You have to have iTunes and a credit card to activate the phone. It even runs your credit, which is sort of scary.You can also choose to have your credit pre-approved in an AT&T store.”
    Handing over my SS# to iTunes wouldn’t be at the top of my list of things to do… but maybe its just me?

  13. umrain says:

    So you get to pay 10% just to find out you don’t have coverage where you need it? Awesome deal.

  14. Hawk07 says:

    I’m just wondering if AT&T is doing anything consumer friendly about the iPhone.

  15. Trick says:

    Everybody thought the iPoood was going to fail. Once again, never un-estimate the Mac fanboys and their never ending need to be like Steve…

  16. enm4r says:

    @Soultrance: Agreed. I don’t understand why you need an ATT contract to use it as an ipod/movie/wifi player. I guess they’re getting enough pay from ATT to keep it exclusive. I see no reason Apple would make such a decision, even if they wanted ATT the sole provider, limiting the phone features would still make for an extremely popular device.

  17. tommac2005 says:

    From this link here for the prices: [www.pcadvisor.co.uk]

    A 10% restocking fee would be $60 and $50. Seems pretty damned steep to me, to reseal the box and ‘restock’ it onto the shelf.

    Don’t think that would stand up here in the UK.

  18. banned says:

    That kinda sucks but I will say in Apple’s defence; At least they are exploiting those with money as the poor people I doubt will be buying very many at $600.00.

  19. Mojosan says:

    I read there is a $175.00 fee for early termination of the contract.

    So, if you return the phone is it a 10% restocking fee AND a $175 early termination fee?
    That would be a deal breaker for me for sure.

    I live in an area that shows full coverage on AT&T’s map, but, in real life, some AT&T phones work fine and some get little of no signal.

  20. katzeroo says:

    Just remember there are a few things you dont get with the iPhone

    1) No A2DP protocol for Bluetooth on the iPhone. Translation: You can’t use wireless headphones with it.

    2) No keyboard, AND you lack the ability to cut and paste text.

    3) Apple says the battery is good for 300-400 charges. After that, the amount of life wanes and eventually you will have to have the battery changed…for a small fee, of course.

    I think I will pass on this. My w810i plays music and makes phonecalls, just like a cellphone should. It too doesnt have the A2DP protocol (boo on you Sony Ericsson…no wireless for a Walkman?) but I’ll just do more research next time before I buy.

    I do have Friday off though….maybe I should stand in line for $500 so some hoser can get his stupid phone?

  21. Thrust says:

    As much as I hate Apple and their iCrap, the article doesn’t state anything different from any other cellphone company’s agreements or terms EXCEPT the 14 day limit. Most are 30. Now it’s a little odd iTunes is mandatory, you can’t just buy it to be a phone, but anyone who DOESN’T want to use that particular feature wouldn’t consider this POS anyways.

  22. Keeko_ca says:

    This just prevents people from buying the phone, playing with it for x amount of time, and returning it. Sorry guys, sounds fair to me.

    Just a simple case of research before you buy.

  23. Transient says:

    I like reading comments that demonize AT&T independently of Apple, as if only one of the two is pounding them from behind. Apple’s done a phenomenal job of building a consumer-friendly image in spite of reality. They chose this arrangement. Also, the return policy is 100% Apple’s. Have a look at the Apple.com return policy:


    Additionally, the AT&T plans are reasonable compared to their current services. The early termination fees and two year contracts are industry standard. The unlimited data that you’re obligated to sign up for is the “MEdiaMax 200” at $19.99 versus the standard pda/smartphone plans which cost nearly $40. Does the arrangement beat not having a data plan at all? No. Is it better than I expected? Unquestionably.

  24. Topcat says:

    I believe this policy is actually to safeguard consumers- what a concept!

    AT&T is allowing Apple full reign of this operation, aside from the actual network- you buy the phone in store, then take it home, plug it in and buy your plan through iTunes. If it so happens that AT&T/Apple doesn’t like your credit enough to give you a plan after youve already brought the hardware home, they’re giving you 2 weeks to bring it back. 10% restocking is reasonable considering they’re offering to check your credit before you take it home.

  25. agent2600 says:

    its the same as having the 10% restock on TVs purchased durring superbowl time, its to make sure cheap asses don’t buy it, play with it, and bring it back. They will have a demo unit at the store, so check it out, and if you want to waste your 600 bucks go for it.

    personally i don’t get the point of the ipone. I used my cell to send text messages and make phone calls…to listen to music I listen to my mp3 player (which gets more battery life then my cell phone ever would) I don’t see the need to have them built into the same thing witha 6 hour battery life for both? and high-rez screen or not, your still looking at a tiny screen. If i want to browse the web , I use my computer, I can get important emails forwarded to my phone, but i don’t see the need to be online 24/7 when…if its really important, someone can….gasp…CALL ME! people have become so introverted it scares me.

  26. consumer_999 says:

    I don’t think it’s so much a “surprise” policy as it is a policy we shouldn’t stand for. They want money on returns for nothing. Go to best buy or circuit city and buy Product X, return it, and they expect 15%? Screw that. I ask in advance, and if they say there is a “restock fee” (cough), I walk. Wow, they have to stuff it into a new box? Eat it. That’s part of business.

  27. mehfisto says:

    I’ve had two iPhones, currently on my third.

    The original one I bought on Friday had a defective antenna cover, it was loose and squeaky. I took it to the Apple Store on Sunday night, and they initially said they were going to charge me a restock fee since it was technically cosmetic. However, I had spoken with several Apple Store employees before my appointment and they all came over to show the Genius that their phones did not do that. After that, he relented and exchanged it for no charge.

    I got that phone home and the second one had two stuck pixels on it. Again, not a huge deal, but for a 600 dollar phone, a major disappointment. So today, I made another Genius Bar appointment, a little nervous since I had exchanged mine once already. No worries though, walked in at 12:30, and walked out at 12:45 with a brand new iPhone, and several apologies from employees and the Genius bar people. I haven’t activated this one yet since I haven’t been home, but they told me to come right back if I have any problems.

    I think it might be the people at the individual stores, but it seems to me they’re trying their best to make people happy.

  28. hatrack says:

    I really don’t understand why the 10% restocking fee is considered so unreasonable. Are you going to happily pay full price for a cell phone or any other product that’s obviously been returned at least once?

  29. JonathanVanasco says:

    The 10% restock is standard- they don’t just put an open box on a shelf, they have to check it out and it becomes refurbished goods that are sold for less than retail or used for replacements/parts (or at least thats what they’re supposed to do ).

    AT&T has a 30day bailout policy on the 2yr contract.

    Day 1-14: return iphone 100% retail (unopened) , 90% retail (opened/activated/whatever)
    Day 1-30: cancel AT&T contract without termination fee

    I’m really happy with the voice quality on this. Its seriously the best sounding cellphone i’ve ever used. 3 days and no dropped connections , no random silence as someone’s words are cut out. that’s really amazing in my book.

  30. consumer_999 says:

    I’m not okay with giving a company 10% for nothing. If we’re going to examine the example of ‘who would pay full price for something returned (esp when the answer is “someone who has that fact hidden from them” – which is also standard)’, then you must also consider returns based on the product not meeting expectation. Why should that customer have to pay even one cent? If the claim is that production in the form of sealing a new box is honestly 10% of costs, these must be pretty damn cheap pieces of equipment. The only reason such a practice is “standard” is because enough of you “accept it.”