Date: Monday, June 15th, 2009, 17:34
For those of you planning to snag a new iPhone 3G S unit from Best Buy, you’ll also have the opportunity to purchase the chain’s rare (and somewhat pricey) accident insurance plan. According to AppleInsider, Best Buy stores nationwide on Friday will begin selling the next-generation Apple handset on launch day, albeit at the big-box retailer’s usual 10 a.m. opening time instead of the early hours both Apple and AT&T promise.
In contrast to these more direct channels, however, Best Buy plans to continue offering Geek Squad’s Black Tie Protection service with the new iPhone, people familiar with the plans say.
While Apple has never offered more than a standard two-year extended AppleCare warranty and AT&T has specifically exempted the iPhone from its insurance offerings, the Black Tie plan covers regular technical problems as well as drops, spills and other failures that would normally require a costly repair service or the purchase of an entirely new device.
Under Best Buy’s offering, any instance in which the phone can’t be fixed or replaced on the spot will see those customers offered a temporary phone until the repair or replacement is ready within three days or less. Battery replacements aren’t as likely due to Apple’s sealed-up design, but the company vows anti-lemon protection for devices that have to be brought in four times due defects.
Opting for Black Tie will reportedly still be expensive. For other cellphones, the program costs between US$7 and US$10 per month depending on the model, but the iPhone’s rate rises to US$15 per month, leaving iPhone owners paying about US$180 per year.
Sources close to the story say the added cost of iPhone protection comes from the heavy subsidies attached to Apple’s products. Since the actual, retail price of a phone without a contract is between US$599 and US$699, it becomes prohibitively expensive to offer Black Tie when customers may use it more than once.