While we–and I am sure Apple–hope that you’re among the millions of iPad 2 adopters who are satisfied with your tablet purchase come 5 PM tonight when the iPad 2 is officially available for sale at retail locations across the U.S., what is your recourse if you’re not satisfied. If you intend on purchasing your Apple second-generation tablet through a wireless carrier (AT&T and Verizon Wireless) or third-party retailers (Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target, etc), you should enquire through your retailer of choice about what their refund policy, stocking fees, or any other charges. If you intend on buying through an Apple retail store or through Apple online, here’s what you should know:
You will have fourteen days from the date of purchase to make the final decision on whether or not you want to keep the tablet. If the iPad 2 is not for you, or if you want to switch between iPad 2 models, you can do that within the two-week period without any cost to you as Apple has done away with its restocking fee policy.
Thankfully, Apple had done away with its restocking fees. Yup, you read that right: no more restocking fees for returns or exchanges. If you find that a 16 GB iPad 2 isn’t the right size for you, or if you ordered a 3G iPad and realize you want to save $130 and go with a WiFi-only model, you can freely do that now without having to pay a restocking fee for changing your mind. Apple is really making it easier for people to try and see if they’re satisfied. If you’re not sure about the iPad 2, the no-risk policy here is great so you can take it home and try out the iPad 2 in normal situations where you may want to use the product–like on a subway train reading e-books or in the kitchen looking up a recipe on the free Epicurious app.
If you’re not purchasing through Apple and feel like you may change your mind, choosing a retailer that offers returns sans restocking fee should be a consideration for you.
iPad 2s purchased online come with the option for personalized engraving, which makes the device more personal. Giving it as a gift or buying it for yourself, this option will definitely be memorable, but beware, if you do change your mind, you can’t. According to Apple, “Please note that Apple does not permit the return of or offer refunds for the following products: Personalized products, such as engraved iPods and iPads.” Think hard before ordering an engraved product and make sure the iPad 2 is something you want to keep in the storage capacity, wireless configuration, and color you want since you can’t return or exchange engraved orders, unless the iPad 2 is defective.
Dealing with Defective iPad 2s:
If your iPad 2 arrives defective, your best bet is to go to your nearest Apple Store and schedule an appointment with a Genius. Most likely, in my experience, they’ll swap out the iPad 2 with a new unit, or do a refund and re-purchase of the iPad 2. If you don’t have an Apple retail store near you, call Apple support: 1-800-APL-CARE.
If the unit that was shipped to you is Dead on Arrival, you have two options. Apple will either allow you replace the unit with a new one, or give you the option to get the unit you received service. Again, Apple support will be the best one for this. Dead on Arrival units are one that fail right out of the box, not one that is defective or shows sign of defects over time.
The iPad 2 comes with a 1-year warranty on parts and labor. This, however, doesn’t apply to the clumsy who may accidentally drop their iPads and crack the screen or damage the tablet themselves–for those types of damages, Apple will assess some repair fee. However, if the warranty is due to faulty units from design, manufacturing, or construction, Apple is usually really good at repairing that free of charge in the warranty period. Out of warranty? Your bet here is to purchase AppleCare, which extends your warranty or pay out of pocket for repairs. If you purchase your iPad with a major credit card, like an American Express, often time your card issuer will extend the warranty a full year beyond the manufacturer’s warranty for free. Be sure to check with your card issuer to see their policies and if you apply as Apple accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express in their stores. Be sure to also check with your card issuer to see if their warranty applies to only covered defects, like Apple’s policies for serving iPads under warranty, or even extend to accidental damage. If the latter applies, and you break your screen, your credit card company may cover those repair expenses.
The Fine Print:
Want to learn more about Apple’s return policies? You can view them through the Apple support page here.