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Apple’s Trade-In Partner Is Looting Customers With False Inspection Reports

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Apple has a trade-in program where it allows customers to trade in their existing iPhones or Macs. Given the way Apple markets it, one would have been led to believe that the company itself runs it. However, that’s not the case as Apple relies on a third-party white label company called Phobio for this. And worse, Apple’s trade-in partner is ripping customers off with questionable tactics.

The Verge has detailed how customers who mail in their Mac to Apple’s trade-in partner Phobio are being given a far lower amount for their machine than initially quoted.

Apple does not accept Mac trade-in via its retail stores. Instead, customers are required to first get a quote of their machine after entering its condition and then shipping it off to Apple’s trade-in center, which is run by its vendor Phobio.

Daniel McGloin sent his mid-2017 MacBook Pro to Apple after getting a quote of $350 through the Apple Store app. However, after the device was shipped for trade-in at the address specified by Apple and it was inspected, its value was reduced to just $140, with the Apple Store app showing the reduced value as the “display has 3 or more white spots.” That’s more than a 50% reduction from the original trade-in amount.

One would be led to believe that Apple has reduced the trade-in value after inspection. However, that’s not the case as the trade-in is handled by Phobio, a company that runs white label trade-in services for many enterprises.

McGloin, however, was sure that his MacBook’s display was in excellent condition, which is something The Verge verified after an in-person inspection as well.

As the report notes, this has become a common issue with Apple’s trade-in program, and many customers who sent their MacBook to Apple have had their quoted amount reduced by over 50% with the same “display has 3 or more white spots” issue. The situation has seemingly become worse in recent months, with multiple complaints from customers popping up on Apple’s support forums.

Pretty disappointed in Apple’s trade in vendor. Trade in value dropped from $490 to $180 after “three white spots” magically appeared on my old MBP while in transit. Certainly feels like bait and switch on that one.

— Rob Zimmerman (@taintedzodiac) December 23, 2020

In all such cases, when customers were returned their MacBook, they did not find any issues as claimed by Phobio during the trade-in process.

Many customers who trade-in their MacBook are looking to upgrade to a newer machine and hope to get the most out of the older one. Not all customers will doubt the concerns raised by Phobio, which in turn allows it to scam Apple customers of hundreds of dollars.

Our Take

Most customers end up trading in their MacBook with Apple as it is far easier than looking for a buyer themselves. While they can always list their laptop on eBay or Craiglist where they can get more value for their machine, the process is time-consuming which puts them off.

Apple prides itself in customer service and experience, and while its trade-in program might sound impressive on paper, the reality is clearly very different. Despite the entire process being handled by a third-party vendor for Apple, the company should have regular checks in place to ensure its customers are not scammed like this.

[Via The Verge]

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