Apple's Independent Repair Program labeled 'onerous' and 'crazy'

iPhone repair
iPhone repair (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Motherboard has obtained a copy of the contract businesses must sign before entering Apple's Independent Repair Provider Program.
  • The IRP was initially announced last August, extending beyond Apple's Authorized Service Providers.
  • However, the contract has been labeled 'onerous' and 'crazy by lawyers and advocates and is apparently very invasive.

Motherboard has published a damning report into Apple's Independent Repair Provider Program, after obtaining a copy of the contract businesses must sign before being admitted.

According to the report:

The contract, which has not previously been made public, sheds new light on a program Apple initially touted as increasing access to repair but has been remarkably silent on ever since. It contains terms that lawyers and repair advocates described as "onerous" and "crazy"; terms that could give Apple significant control over businesses that choose to participate. Concerningly, the contract is also invasive from a consumer privacy standpoint.

Businesses have to submit to unannounced audits and inspections by Apple, probably intended to stop the use of prohibited, third party components. Which sounds fine. However, if they leave the program "Apple reserves the right to continue inspecting repair shops for up to five years after a repair shop leaves the program." Not only that, but Apple also requires the shops to share information about their customers at Apple's behest, including your name, phone number, and home address. The report further states:

According to multiple individuals with knowledge of the program, businesses receive this contract after signing a non-disclosure agreement with Apple.

The report also notes that Apple makes it very clear that it does not want IRP shops to be confused with Apple Authorized Service Providers, forcing businesses to display a "prominent and easily visible written notice" on their storefront and website to that effect. They also have to get written acknowledgment from customers that they aren't an ASP.

Concerns have also been raised about the fact that Apple won't warranty repairs done by IRP stores, and restrictions placed on businesses over so-called "prohibited products."

The full report is extensive and several lawyers and right-to-repair advocates have described the terms of the agreement as "very onerous" and "crazy".

It seems that some stores even decided not to join the IRP program because of Apple's insistence that it was allowed to collect customer data. In a statement Apple reportedly said:

"We are committed to giving our customers more options and locations for safe and reliable repairs. Our new independent repair provider program is designed to give repair businesses of all sizes access to genuine parts, training and tools needed to perform the most common iPhone repairs. We are excited by the initial response and high level of interest. We are working closely with interested parties and we will update language in our materials to address their feedback."

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9