Apple, Amazon Team Up To 'Enhance Customer Experience' By Limiting Customers' Options
from the *enhanced-customer-experience-may-require-bending-over dept
The “right of first sale” still exists. Not that Apple’s happy about it. Apple’s no fan of right-to-repair laws either, preferring to keep its revenue streams nice and deep by forcing customers to get their repairs only from Apple-approved vendors, no matter what the law actually says.
So, yeah, you still have the right to resell your Apple products. You’re just not going to do it in the largest marketplace in the United States. This CNBC article delivers the bad news like it’s good news.
The agreement means the latest Apple products like the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max will be available on Amazon.
Both companies issued statements about improving customer experiences, but nothing about this sounds like a better deal for consumers. It’s a paywalled garden guarded by Apple and Amazon that will keep all but a select few resellers from participating. Being an Apple reseller/repairer is pay-to-play.
First, Apple has to be convinced you’ll do more for it than it will do for you. Then you have to pay for the privilege of being allowed to exercise your first sale rights.
Independent shops pay Apple a fee in return for “authorized” status, which gets them exclusive access to Apple training and guidebooks and the ability to buy parts directly from Apple. But authorized repair shops are only “authorized” to do a select few repairs; if a customer comes in with other easily fixable problems, the repair shop must ship the phone to Apple.
This “improvement” of “customer experience” means more old Apple products will be headed for landfills than other people’s homes. Jason Koebler of Motherboard interviewed John Bumstead — a reseller who buys old MacBooks from recyclers and, until recently, sold the refurbs on Amazon. Bumstead was just informed he was no longer welcome at Amazon, thanks to the new deal with Apple.
Bumstead had a good thing going — something that worked for him and the environment. But Amazon’s refurb program — as modified by Apple — only wants to deal with people who have the capability to feed a bunch of money to Apple before reselling used devices.
Amazon currently has its own “certified” refurbisher program called “Amazon Renewed” that will be unaffected by the new deal with Apple. But the requirements to sell Apple products under that program are impossible to hit for any small business: They must prove to Amazon that they spend at least $2.5 million dollars every 90 days buying Apple products “directly from a national wireless carrier or retailer with over $5 billion in annual sales (Example: Verizon, AT&T, or Target) or the manufacturer (Apple.)” This means that only big companies with direct relationships with corporate giants can meet the requirements.
This doesn’t do much for customers seeking affordable Apple products. Apple continues to set the literal gold standard with its phone and laptop pricing. Severely curtailing the options Amazon customers have for affordable devices doesn’t sound like an “improved customer experience,” but those are the empty words both companies are using to sell this.
Now, Apple and Amazon are free to handle refurb sales however they wish. There may be a “right to first sale” just like there’s First Amendment speech protections, but the actions of private companies don’t infringe on that right. They’re free to de-platform anyone for almost any reason. You can resell your Apple stuff. You just can’t do it here.
I’d say it isn’t wise for Apple to take such an antagonistic stance against its customers, but its aggressively anti-consumer efforts haven’t made much of a dent in customer goodwill. It may attract the occasional attention of regulators, but not often enough to result in a softened stance on resale or repair. The problem is Apple’s actions make things worse for customers who have never purchased its products. Homogenizing marketplaces rarely results in better prices and its anti-right-to-repair efforts are funneling customers towards a select few outlets and preventing device owners from enjoying the privileges of ownership.