Apple's iPhone trade-in program is causing buyers headaches again

Apple’s iPhone trade-in program is causing buyers headaches again

Over the past few years, Apple has become increasingly focused on its iPhone trade-in program. By offering lucrative trade-in details, often in partnership with carriers, Apple can entice iPhone users to upgrade every year. This take-back program, however, has caused a number of headaches for users, and the situation does not seem to be improving…

I’ve traded in a few iPhones to Apple over the years with no issues. This year, however, I received an email about a week and a half after sending in an iPhone 13 Pro Max saying that the box had arrived at Apple’s factory exchange, but there was no was nothing inside the box.

When we received your trade-in kit, there were no devices inside the box. If this was intended, or if you have already contacted us about this, disregard this email. If not, it is important that you respond with the following information as soon as possible:

– The exact item(s) you placed in the return packaging

– A detailed description of how you packed and sealed the goods inside

This is an email no one wants to receive. The thought that you could suddenly be hooked on the over $700 trade-in credit you received for your new iPhone 14 Pro Max is stressful. And sure enough, Apple charged my card on file a day later for that $705 trade-in value.

When I tweeted about this situation, it quickly became apparent that this was a common problem. Countless iPhone buyers seem to get an email like this every year, and this year’s iPhone 14 launch doesn’t seem to be any different. A quick look at forums like Reddit reveals that this is a fairly common problem.

The good news is that in most situations, Apple fixes this problem without too much hassle. If you respond to the original email, the company will “investigate” the situation and credit your account with the trade-in amount. There are situations where this is not the result, however. Either way, it’s a stressful situation that makes a customer less likely to buy an iPhone next year.

Taking 9to5Mac

There is an obvious problem with the process of Apple’s iPhone trade-in program. The company relies heavily on third parties for crucial aspects of this program, including UPS and FedEx for shipping and other third parties for receiving and inventory management of trade-in iPhones.

What is most likely happening here is that somewhere between the time the customer drops off the iPhone at a courier (like UPS in my case) and the time it is received at the trade-in facility, the iPhone is stolen from the box. Someone involved in this process opens the box, takes the iPhone, re-seals it, and it’s shipped to its final destination as if nothing had happened.

In response to my tweet, one of the most common suggestions was to simply avoid doing exchanges by mail. Instead, people have suggested that you should always trade in at an Apple Store. This is great advice if you live near an Apple Store. A lot of people, myself included, don’t have that luxury. Trading in an iPhone is all about making the process of buying a new one as convenient as possible, and the ability to mail it in is a key part of that.

The best solution to this problem is for Apple to add some sort of “trade-in mode” to the iPhone. It could be a software mode where you put your iPhone in before sending it in and completing the trade. More importantly, this mode could put your iPhone into a version of Find My where you (and Apple) can track its progress to the final trade-in destination.

Have you ever had this problem ? What was your experience with trading in your iPhone to Apple? Let us know in the comments.

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