Apple flips the switch on paid chat support, introduces Here to Help program for AppleCare employees


Following our report late last month that Apple was preparing to start charging for out-of-warranty online chat support, we’ve been informed that today Apple support has finally flipped the switch on the new feature and started charging customers. While originally planned for earlier this month, Apple has been having difficulties with a new payment system it developed specifically for the online chat feature. Apple is also introducing a new training program for AppleCare employees called “Here to Help” that it hopes will improve the overall AppleCare support experience. 

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AppleCare-supportBefore it could roll out the paid chat support, Apple had to develop a new web payment system that would allow it to accept payments through chat and keep user info secure when transferred between support agents, according to our sources. As you can see in the image to the right, a chat support representative confirmed the system goes live today but that the company is experiencing some issues. Here’s an explanation straight from Apple support about the new payment system:

How it will work is I will be able to send you a link in our Chat that you would be able to follow. From that link you will then be taken to an Apple website that will allow you to put int your Credit Card information to make the payment. Afterwards it will update in my system showing me that you have payed for the coverage and that you’re now eligible for support… That is actually where we are having a bit of trouble today, in sending the link as it is now showing up as it should. Once it is working properly however it is a very simple process.

Using the new web payment system, we previously reported that Apple plans to offer the ability to set up hardware repairs and replacements that require a hold on a credit card or pay per incident fee via chat support. As we noted in our earlier report, charging for chat support will allow Apple to close up a loophole that allowed users to get free technical or diagnostic support and avoid paying for over the phone services or AppleCare.

Since Apple is still having a bit of trouble with the payment system, there’s a good chance you’ll be granted an exception for the payment today or until the problem is fixed. Apple will also continue to grant exceptions on a case by case basis for certain problems such as iCloud issues and accidental damage cases where users just want to setup a repair or replacement via chat.

As for the new AppleCare program for employees, Here to Help will consist of three-day training sessions that Apple says “will transform AppleCare by sharpening our focus on our customers’ experience while continuing to provide fantastic product support.” The program will be available to all AppleCare Advisors in the coming months.

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  1. PMZanetti - 9 years ago

    I’m a little bit shocked by this, and find it to be rather absurd.

  2. Peter Ostro (@peteostro) - 9 years ago

    Do NOT like this, I don’t think apple should charge for chat support, we pay enough for apple products that we should not be charged to find out how to solve a software issue or hardware issue. Is this going to extend to genius bar? Will they charge me $20 just to talk to a “genius” Apple needs to rethink this.

  3. Scott (@ScooterComputer) - 9 years ago

    This is bad. Mostly because the reasons I find to chat with Apple is NOT my unfamiliarity with their product (having used Apple computers since 1983), but bugs. This is yet another way for Apple to “insulate” itself from the responsibility of making better functional software. Instead of doing better testing, they’ll sweep aside the “low hanging fruit” because customers dealing with bugs won’t pay $20 for the privilege of reporting them from the consumer side. Problem solved…not by finding and fixing the bugs, but by shutting up the “complainers”.

    This is showing that Apple is proving the “Apple Tax” critics correct: AppleCare is a tax, you really HAVE to pay, in order to get an acceptable level of service from Apple for your Apple product. That’s tragic.

    • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

      >>Mostly because the reasons I find to chat with Apple is… …bugs.

      So stop doing the wrong thing and start doing the right thing?

      • Cameron Bernhardt - 9 years ago

        It’s almost like we’re in iOS beta again and people are starting threads on MacRumors about how their phones aren’t working…

    • Tallest Skil - 9 years ago

      >>That’s tragic.

      No, but it’s patently false. Enough with the FUD.

    • Audrey Nichole - 9 years ago

      Well, the charge is only for technical troubleshooting support for products that are outside of their complimentary support period and do not have an AppleCare Protection Plan of some sort. Simply reporting a bug would not be a chargeable phone call or chat in any circumstance, and the support articles the Advisors use to help you troubleshoot technical issues are all listed at for free. Also, support for software update-related bugs are covered without need for paid support anyway.

  4. opsono - 9 years ago

    “payed”? wow.

  5. Dean Waterman - 9 years ago

    The best companies in the world understand customer service. I thought Apple was one of those companies, as I have enjoyed the service I have received for years. Apple makes a high profit margin for their products, I believe over 40% every quarter they report. They have billions in the bank. And they feel the need to charge $19.99 to chat? TO CHAT? Please, Apple, reconsider. I understand the need to make money, but you prove every quarter you are making quite a bit of it. Begin down this road and you will soon find customers looking elsewhere for a better experience (which doesn’t really exist yet).

  6. Cameron Bernhardt - 9 years ago

    The only reason I find this interesting is because I so often hear in the Apple store “If you have any problems, don’t hesitate to call us at any time and we’ll be happy to help you out.”

    But I suppose an influx of calls has to be managed somehow.

  7. $20/incident seems crazy. Can you ask multiple questions within one ‘incident?’ Or do you have to make two separate payments for a MacBook question and an iPhone question?

    • It’s $19 per issue. You can chat or call back as many times as you need to in order to resolve that issue for the next 30 days. The $19 is not limited to chat, it’s for support, period. Phone or chat. There are lots of reasons that you could be granted an exception and not be required to pay. They include but are not limited to:

      – Within 90 days of complimentary support for the device you are working with.
      – If you are within your 1 year limited warranty but suspect it’s a hardware problem.
      – Updated your software within the last 90 days (iOS this means every point release, i.e. 7.0.6, OS X this means every major release, i.e. 10.8, 10.9).
      – Any issue with an Apple service (iCloud, iTunes Store, iMessage).

      That’s all I can think of right now. And yes, it would be limited to each device unless it’s a multi device issue, like iCloud email not working or iMessage not working.

  8. Steve Carter - 9 years ago

    Do you really think a company should offer support for a 3 year old phone? Companies have to pay millions to hire these IT guys to troubleshoot your phone you bought off craigslist. Im sorry but that is not making them money.

  9. Taylor Mullins - 9 years ago

    here to help is by far the dumbest thing ever and the employees are starting to realize that it is better to not use it. who wants to hear “im sorry to here that and i understand what its like blah blah blah” who cares just fix the fucking problem! and dont ask for my permission to ask me questions clearly i called to get my problem fixed just do your damn job

  10. XkrakunnhX (@XkrakunnhX) - 9 years ago

    That what all you get fuckers that spend shit load of money on worthless and old tecnology that only cost to build an iphone 200 dlls, and u are all paying 600 ++


Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.