Last August, Apple announced an official Independent Repair Program (IRP) that would provide businesses with genuine parts, tools, training, repair manuals, and diagnostics for iPhone repairs (see “Apple Offers Genuine iPhone Parts and Tools to Independent Repair Shops,” 29 August 2019). We praised the IRP at the time, but as more details have emerged, the program increasingly seems untenable for repair shops.
Motherboard has obtained copies of the IRP contract, which was a task in and of itself since shops must sign a non-disclosure agreement before even seeing the contract. Despite that, several repair shops agreed to go on the record.
Here are some of the more onerous details of the IRP:
- Repair shops must agree to unannounced audits and inspections by Apple not just during the program, but for up to five years after leaving the program.
- IRP shops must maintain a database of customer information, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses.
- If an audit shows that more than 2% of a business’s transactions involve “prohibited products,” Apple can demand a $1000 penalty for each of those transactions and reimbursement for the investigation.
Manhattan MacBook repairman Louis Rossmann, who initially supported the program, later recanted, calling it a “useless PR stunt” with terms that make it difficult for repair shops to turn a profit or keep parts in stock. Many industry observers worry that Apple isn’t serious about the IRP but is instead using it to thwart Right to Repair legislation by convincing politicians that it renders such laws unnecessary.
But not all repair shops are opposed to the IRP. Justin Carroll, the owner of the Virginia-based FruitFixed, told Motherboard, “I don’t think that’s as bad or a massive negative [speaking of the audits]. That’s something for me I would welcome because I know everything in our house we’re selling is fine and above board.”