iPhone Defective? That'll Be $29 For A Loaner

Reader Jonathan’s iPhone just keeps breaking. The second time, rather than replacing it, they decided it would need to be repaired—and tried to charge him $30 for a rental phone.

He writes:

I went to the apple store today because a large portion of the touchscreen on my phone decided to stop working in the middle of writing an email. As a backstory, this is my second iphone. My first iphone had bad RAM or something and was replaced in 1 week after it would repeatedly freeze up and require a software restore.

The Apple “Genius” confirmed that it was a hardware issue, but that it would have to fixed at a depot which would take a few days. he then offered me two options: 1_ take the SIM card home and put it in another phone 2_ pay $30 plus a $500 deposit to rent an iphone while mine is being repaired.

I just sat there for a moment, then quietly replied “You’re fucking kidding me.” I told him that I flat-out refused to pay for their faulty hardware, and that I paid $500 for a phone that was expected to work for a year , not be fixed or replaced every few weeks. I wasn’t getting a battery replaced, I wasn’t dealing with user damage, I was dealing with faulty hardware which he had just confirmed.

I asked him to get the manager to waive the loaner fee. He refused as well.

So I immediately called Apple Care (in the apple store) , escalated it up a level, and went over four points:
1_ This is a hardware problem that is emblematic of poor quality control . This is the second defective phone I’ve been given. And I’m still way within the first 90 days of purchase !
2_ Apple did not announce a defect policy that customers would have to wait several days or pay $30 for a loaner until after I had purchased the phone. there’s no way in hell I’d have bought an Iphone if i knew that I’d have to rent one for $30 whenever an issue comes up.
3_ There are multiple class action suits against Apple concerning this issue, and apple tends to lose class actions.

With that in mind, the Apple Care agent finally agreed that it was only fair that they waive the loaner fee and try to keep me as a customer. They made a note in the file to waive the fee, and then I went back to the Genius Bar to get it swapped out.

People can say how bad AT&T is non-stop, but since switching to the iPhone from Sprint I’ve only averaged 2 dropped calls a week. I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation on Sprint that didn’t drop out.

On the other hand, the Apple customer service has been nothing but awful. The phones have an obscenely high defect rate– just go to an apple store count at how many exchanges they do in a 30 minute period. These aren’t phones that are cracked or broken – they’re ones where the hardware is just screwed up and makes the phone half- work and be unstable. Some friends in SF said that so many people bring defective iphones to the apple store there, that they don’t even bother trying to charge people for a loaner.

I couldn’t find anything in the consumerist covering this yet. I think people should remember that if you can’t resolve something to your satisfaction in the Apple Store, you can turn to Apple Care, and eventually Apple Corporate.


We took a look at Apple’s site and sure enough there’s a $29 rental fee. As Jonathan demonstrates, however, it can be waived.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.