Apple is about to begin charging users outside of their warranty for online chat support using a new web payment system it recently developed. Sources familiar with the project say Apple is currently expecting to launch the new paid chat support, which will also let customers schedule repairs and replacements online, as early as next week. Here’s how it works:
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Much like Apple handles support calls over the phone, soon only customers within their warranty period will be able to access online chat support through getsupport.apple.com for free. For others, Apple will charge what it refers to as a “pay per incident” fee or require the purchase of an extended warranty through AppleCare. Previously all online support chat features were available for free to users worldwide. Some users might have noticed back in August when Apple revamped its support sites that it started listing a $19.99 per incident fee for chat support. However, up until now AppleCare hasn’t actually been charging users to access the feature.
Not only will this make online chat support an official support channel for Apple, it will also close up a loophole that allowed users to get free technical or diagnostic support and avoid paying for over the phone services or AppleCare.
Before rolling out the paid chat support, Apple had to develop a new web payment system that would allow it to accept payments through chat and keep user info secure when transferred between support agents, according to our sources. Using the new web payment system, we’re told Apple plans to offer the ability to set up hardware repairs and replacements that require a hold on a credit card or pay per incident fee via chat support. Rather than having to call in, users will be sent a link that’s live for 24 hours in order to complete the payment.
As for pricing, Apple will charge a fee of $19 for a single incident of basic tech support and troubleshooting. There will, however, be an option for users to request an exception on the fee. Up until the official launch of the paid online chat, AppleCare employees have been instructed to grant exceptions on all cases.
We’re told Apple will continue to waive the fee for iCloud issues as well as accidental damage cases where users just want to setup a repair or replacement via chat.
Apple representatives are expected to begin charging the $19 per incident fee for online chat support worldwide starting next week.