Apple has over the last several years offered a product trade-in system, allowing users to get instant credit toward new products by trading in their old devices. While some trade-ins are handled by Apple itself, much of the trade-in process is handled by third-party partners.
Now, a new report by The Verge features the “alarming uptick” in the number of complaints centered around Atlanta-based main Apple trade-in partner Phobio.
Although customers may assume that they are directly trading their devices into Apple, they are more often than not handled by “trade-in partners” such as Phobio.
A growing number of Apple customers are reporting bad experiences when trading in their Apple devices to Phobio. Many of the complaints are related to Mac trade-in experiences. Multiple customers told The Verge that Phobio adjusted the trade-in value of their Mac trade-in because of “white spots” on the display.
Scores of other instances of this exact situation happening to Apple product owners can be found online, too, with numerous customers citing Phobio’s “3 or more white spots” explanation as the reason for their adjusted trade-in, as well as stories of other types of apparent damage detected only after sending a device in for inspection. This isn’t just restricted to MacBooks, either. Customers often complain of reduced trade-in quotes for iPhones, iPads, and iMacs, too.
When some customers complained, they reported Phobio’s provided proof consisted of grainy images that didn’t show clear-cut evidence. Some customers have detailed how they took photos of their devices prior to shipping them in in the event of disputes, only for Phobio to return photographic evidence they say either doesn’t illustrate the alleged issue or is too low-quality or obfuscating to serve as proper proof.
The report mentions an “alarming uptick” in complaints against Phobio over the last few months. The company has received over 500 Better Business Bureau complaints. The BBB has alerted users that Phobio has a “pattern of complaints alleging Refund or Exchange Issues, Sales Issues, and Service Issues.”
Since in many cases it appears to customers that they’re dealing directly with AQpple when it comes to trade-ins, any bad experience a customer has reflects badly on Apple itself, not the trade-in partner actually handling the trade-in.