Your iPhone or iPad warranty: check the fine print!

iPhones - Check the warranty small printAt Christmas, I bought my wife an iPhone as a gift.

I live in Portugal, but purchased the device (unlocked and SIM-free) in a London Apple store during a work trip to the UK. There is an Apple store in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, but it is three hours drive from our home, so buying the phone in London made sense. Or so I thought at the time.

Six weeks later, my wife’s iPhone developed a fault. The backlight decided to periodically die, for anything from two minutes to several hours. Despite trying all manner of resets and other things the problem persisted.

We therefore began to look at our options to get the phone fixed or replaced. Had we been in the UK, I would have simply taken it to the store, where I am confident it would have been replaced with no argument. But with no plans to visit the UK in the immediate future, I looked online for details of the warranty, and was quickly dismayed to find out the following “important restriction”:

Apple may restrict warranty service for iPhone and iPad to the country where Apple or its Authorized Distributors originally sold the Apple Product.

Now, this was an unpleasant surprise. If I lived anywhere Lisbon, I would have been happy to visit the Apple store there and argue my case, but as I previously mentioned, we live three hours away. The return cost of petrol, tolls and parking runs to about €150. Add in a day’s loss of earnings, and we reach a sum in excess of the cost of Apple’s flagship phone.

Of course, we could try to phone Apple and resolve this via a “send in” repair, but sadly we’ve been here before when needing to replace the faulty power adaptor for my MacBook Pro (which I, in fact, purchased in Portugal).

A combination of language barrier problems and Apple being incapable of realising that people may sometimes buy their devices in one country and use them in another ended up with us giving in after hours on the phone, and arranging for our replacement to be sent to the UK to be shipped onwards by a friend.

In the case of the iPhone, life just seemed too short to waste more of it on the phone arguing – especially when Apple’s fine print says that they’re basically not interested if your iPhone decides to go wrong in a different country from whence you purchased it.

So, while I know I could waste hours arguing about this and eventually reach a resolution, I’ve instead decided to give in to the fine print and take the phone in when I’m next in the UK. Meanwhile, my wife will tolerate an expensive device that becomes unusable at random intervals.

As ever, I continue to love using Apple products, but I’ll be asking a lot more questions before I hand over any cash for the next one.