Every mall now has a kiosk where one or two repair people promise to fix your cracked smartphone screen, or misbehaving tablet. They're often cheaper than going through official channels. But do they have the chops? And what parts will they use?
Apple, which has no official stores in New Zealand, is looking to draw independent repair outfits into its orbit with its new Independent Repair Provider (IRP) programme, which will be extended to NZ and 39 other countries this week.
The company already has 20 Apple Authorised Service Providers (AASPs) in NZ - billed as they place to go if you have Apple hardware to be repaired within warranty. AASPs always use genuine Apple parts, the company says.
Independent Repair Providers (IRPs) are pitched as the place to go if you've got an Apple product that's out of warranty. They'll get access to Apple parts at the same price as AASPs, but could also use third-party components - although they have to disclose that to a customer.
Apple hasn't put a number on how many IRPs it expects to sign up in NZ, but a rep for the company said about 1500 repairers had signed up since the programme was launched in Canada and Europe in 2019.
There is no cost to become an IRP, which involves at least one technician taking an online training course. Those who get certified receive free access to Apple diagnostics and step-by-step repair guides. There's also the option to buy a toolset for the unfathomable (to outsiders) task of opening an iPhone, then fixing it. Apple did not want to disclose the cost.
An Apple rep said the training and certification process will take around eight weeks.
Those who make the cut will be listed here.
Is my gadget under warranty?
Although companies typically quote a one-, two- or three-year warranty for a product, consumer protection legislation says any new product must last for a "reasonable" amount of time, relative to its price - with free repair, a replacement or a refund if it does not - rather than an arbitrary timeframe set by the manufacturer.
Consumer NZ cautions against buying extended warranties, in most circumstances (exceptions include products bought for business use, or if there's an option for a replacement product while you wait for a repair - a feature that can be attractive to some buyers).
"The Consumer Guarantees Act already provides strong after-sales protection if an item you buy from a retailer turns out to be faulty," Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson says.
Wilson adds that in the case of damage or theft, many items often fall under your home and contents insurance policy.
"You shouldn't have to do a lot running around," the research head adds.
"The Act makes a retailer responsible, so start with them."
So if you, say, bought a smartwatch at Harvey Norman and it breaks down, Harvey Norman is your first port of call. It's up to them to advocate on your behalf to the importer or manufacturer.
If you get stonewalled by a retailer, your next stop should be the Disputes Tribunal, which offers a low-cost (from $45) service for making a small claim - which, in the context of the Consumer Guarantees Act, would be against the regailer who sold you the gadget.