Despite the confirmation of bending iPad Pros, Apple still charges “fee”

It all started when some owners of Apple’s 2018 iPad Pro have claimed on the MacRumors forum that their devices have developed slight bends out of the box or over time, and Apple has confirmed to The Verge that it acknowledges the issue and it doesn’t consider the bending a defect.

Whether they were shipped that way or developed a bend over time, the bend some owners have experienced shouldn’t “worsen over time or negatively affect the flagship iPad Pro’s performance,” according to The Verge referring to Apple’s confirmation. Users have reported slight bends on both the smaller and larger-sized 2018 iPad Pros, and Apple says it’s a side effect of the iPad Pro’s manufacturing process.

Despite the confirmation of bending iPad Pros, Apple hasn’t set up a replacement program. Owners of the new iPad Pros can still exchange their original unit for a replacement within the 14-day return period, but that could be too late for some. The 2018 iPad Pro was announced on October 30 and released for sale on November 7.

on Friday, one of the owners named Zach was able to get a replacement iPad Pro. Unfortunately, he had to pay a $49 service fee in order to get it.

Importantly, Zach has AppleCare+, so it’s doubtful that he would have been able to get that replacement without it. This is in line with earlier reports on forums and subreddits, which claimed that Apple was charging a deductible on the assumption that bent iPads were the result of accidental damage.

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Zach says he was always careful with his iPad Pro and that he never even took it out of its Smart Folio Keyboard Case. For that matter, the “accidental damage” argument falls to shambles in light of Apple’s own admission that some iPad Pros were bent straight out of the box. Under such conditions, it’s not difficult to believe even subtle warping would grow more pronounced through everyday handling.

It’s also worth noting that Zach wasn’t able to get his new iPad Pro right away since it was out of stock at the Apple Store he visited. That’s a shame, as I would have liked to have known if the new iPad Pro was bent as well. 

Frankly, I was more annoyed by the $49 fee than Zach, who told me in a Twitter message that he’s “satisfied” and that it “worked out about as good as I could imagine.” Still, much of Zach’s relief springs from his initial fears that Apple wouldn’t replace the device at all.

“I mean, I’d rather not pay it but the service fee is fine,” he said. “I guess me going in and expecting them not to replace it without a bigger fee made it more palatable, but I probably shouldn’t have had to pay anything for a problem I didn’t cause myself.”

Apple, for its part, is maintaining that the new iPad Pro is a quality product. In an email to a 9to5Mac reader, Dan Riccio, Apple’s chief of hardware engineering, emphasized that the new iPad Pro’s flatness specification is “tighter than previous generations” at 400 microns, which is less than half a millimeter. Apple claims this won’t change much after normal use of the product.

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Riccio also said that the statement published by The Verge was not an official statement and Apple would be sending one out later today. Macworld has asked Apple for a statement as well.

As I said in my review of the device, the iPad Pro is a fantastic machine. I’ve yet to see ours bend.

But we’re now at the point where many of you will either be getting or receiving one as a gift for the holidays, and it’s important that you keep these issues in mind. If you’re buying a new iPad Pro over the next couple of days, I highly recommend buying AppleCare+ as well. If you’re getting one as a gift, I highly recommend that you immediately check it to make sure it’s not bending.

Otherwise you might find that Apple will make you pay for what appears to be its own mistakes.

Updated: December 22, 2018 — 2:36 pm

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