New iPhone users say Apple is monopolizing repair options

Posted at 5:47 PM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 21:25:34-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- Many Americans say cell phone are their lifelines. But what happens when yours breaks? Whether for convenience or for price, third-party repair shops are the choice for many customers. Unfortunately, some Apple users with the latest phones say they're not able to go to third-party shops. 

Four years ago, Christopher McQueen said he found the perfect niche business. 

“People are always breaking their phones, late at night,” McQueen said.

He is the owner of Mobile Cell Doctors. Any brand, any phone, any version. He will come to you and fix your phone.

“To be able to fix your phone in 10 minutes, versus a 3-hour fiasco at Apple, it was a need that was definitely there,” McQueen said. 

He said he can fix any hardware problems, except on the most recent iPhone models - iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X.

Just recently, iPhone 8 user Lucas Peckham went to McQueen to get his broken screen replaced. His choices were $100 with McQueen or $169 at the Apple Store. 

He chose the cheaper, more convenient option.

Peckham said everything was flawless until one morning, he woke up to a phone with a frozen screen. 

He could not swipe, touch, type, or do anything with his device. 

Peckham said it happened after his phone automatically updated overnight, installing the Apple 11.3 Software.

McQueen said he was suddenly inundated with calls from all of his previous iPhone 8 customers. 

“It’s been a nightmare,” McQueen said. 

He said he had fixed about 100 iPhone 8’s in the last six months. 

He suggested to his customers, to do what they hoped to avoid by going to him in the first place - go to the Apple Store. 

But Peckham said, when he showed Apple the problem, he was told, because he previously used a third-party repairman, they could not repair it. 

Instead, he had to replace it with a brand new screen for $150 - or buy a whole new phone. 

“I totally felt screwed,” Peckham said. 

With no other option, Peckham said he gave in, spending six hours at the Apple Store, and paying up the $150. 

“It was basically a way for Apple to create kind of a monopoly on the iPhone screen,” Peckham said. 

Last month, California became the 18th state to introduce a “Right to Repair” Bill, which would require electronics manufacturers to make repair information and parts available to owners and third-party repair shops.

McQueen hopes this legislation passes, so mom-and-pop business owners like him also get to have a piece of the pie. 

“I would love to fix those,” McQueen said. “But until they release the software to run the phones that would allow third-parties to work on those devices, we can’t fix them.”

10News spoke to Apple, who said they do work with Authorized third-party dealers that are not Apple Stores. Those specific repair shops have all the latest repair equipment and gadgets to fix all hardware and software problems.