Apple has begun charging customers for post-warranty online support chats at $19.99 per incident, although the service still has some bugs to iron out.
Apple (AAPL) has begun charging customers for post-warranty online support chats, following reports last month that it was working out the kinks before it went live with the new feature.
In a loophole in Apple’s support services, users have been receiving free telephone-based technical or diagnostic support for out-of-warranty products. Online chat support is still accessible through getsupport.apple.com.
According to 9to5Mac, Apple spent the past few weeks tinkering with a new payment system purpose-built for the online chat support vehicle, prompting a delay in rolling it out to customers. The bugs reportedly haven't all been smoothed out but Apple still is going ahead with the chat service. Users will be charged $19.99 per incident for chat support for products no longer in warranty.
With the online chat service, Apple provides users with a link that connects them to an Apple website to input payment information. After Apple chat support reps verify payment has been made they're free to proceed with the support chat. Right now, the bug is in the process to send users the link to the payment system, according to an explanation Apple support provided 9to5Mac.
Inasmuch as Apple still is working out some of the kinks with the payment system, some exceptions will be made, Apple said, although there’s no word on the exact nature of the one-offs. The service also lets customers schedule repairs and product replacements online. Customers not wanting to pay the per-incident fee may purchase an extended warranty through AppleCare.
In the meantime, Apple has been training AppleCare staffers under a new program called “Here to Help” to upgrade the overall customer support chat experience. The “Here to Help” three-day training sessions, which will be rolled out to all AppleCare reps in the next few months, aim to “transform AppleCare by sharpening our focus on our customers’ experience while continuing to provide fantastic product support,” according to what Apple told 9to5Mac.