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Why buying Apple products from Best Buy or Target may shorten your warranty — and how to fix it

AppleCare on iPad
AppleCare on iPad (Image credit: iMore)

Twitter user Benjamin Black recently tweeted Serenity about his warranty woes after having bought his Apple product from a third-party retailer:

https://twitter.com/benjaminandjen/status/973977558541914112

Basically, while Apple offers a 1-year limited warranty on most products, that warranty doesn't always start on the day you purchased your device from a third party store like Best Buy, Target, or Walmart: In some instances, that warranty is logged in Apple's system as beginning when the store bought the devices from Apple.

Why do stores like Best Buy and Walmart sell Apple devices with shortened warranties?

When third-party retailers buy Apple products in bulk, Apple essentially washes its inventory of those devices. Of course the serial numbers are all still with Apple and all that fun stuff, but Apple doesn't maintain sales records for each individual device sold in each individual store. Therefore, the date that gets stored in Apple's system is the date the third-party retailer purchased the products.

So you may have bought an iPhone X from Best Buy last week, but the 1-year warranty may have actually started on November 3, 2017 (or whenever that store purchased its supply of iPhones).

What do I do if I bought a device with a shortened warranty?

If you're concerned that your device might have an erroneous purchase date, the best thing you can do is call Apple Support (opens in new tab) directly at 1-800-692-7753 (1-800-MY-APPLE) and have an associate retroactively change your warranty period.

TIP: You can only do this through Apple's Support line or online resources — your local Apple Store doesn't have access to the necessary records.

To change your device's "sold on" date to the date you actually purchased it from the store, you'll need your purchase receipt from the store in question and to explain the situation. Apple's customer service is excellent (at least from my experience), and you should be able to get it sorted. After all, it worked for our friend Benjamin:

https://twitter.com/benjaminandjen/status/974095287471034371

Questions?

Sound off in the comments below! Has this happened to you before? Let us know how you dealt with it.

Mick is a staff writer who's as frugal as they come, so he always does extensive research (much to the exhaustion of his wife) before making a purchase. If it's not worth the price, Mick ain't buying.

3 Comments
  • Fortunately THAT has never happened to me, BUT my dealings with Apple Support have largely been excellent. Including the time they replaced my iPad Pro 9.7 with a broken screen. They were VERY generous in their application of a "warranty" in that situation. Might have helped that I have an extensive purchase record, several iPads, Mac Book Pro, Mac Book, iMac, and a couple iPhones.
  • That's never happened with me. I usually get it either from Apple, Target, or Best Buy. My warranty was correct when I last bought an Apple product from either Target or Best Buy. I got a series 0 watch two years ago and it had the correct warranty according to Apple's website. I got an iPad Pro 10.5" last year from Best Buy and it has the correct warranty. So now my question is, did the person actually get sold a repackaged item from Best Buy or something? I have never seen this happen with anyone or any other product. An official statement from Apple would be great to verify this, as it should not happen and the product warranty should start the day the product is purchased from the retailer, not the retailer buying it from Apple. Sound very weird to me imo.
  • I've seen this happen a number of times (including seeing folks bring this kind of stuff in when I worked at Apple retail). It's not super-common, but it can happen with things that aren't regularly flying off the shelves (i.e. an older set of Beats headphones).