Apple is getting ready for its biggest iPhone launch yet, but, just like with any other product, some people may not be completely happy with their upcoming iPhone 6 purchases and will return their units for various reasons. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Apple has a special team for that kind of customer experience that is ready to handle returned devices as fast as possible, a procedure that could save the company millions of dollars on the long run.
The same engineers who built the device will be standing by, ready to tear down returned units in order to find solutions to potential problems that may originate from the production line – that’s assuming that the reason a customer returns a brand new device is very serious and can affect multiple devices.
The program was created in the late 1990s and is called early field failure analysis (EFFA). It operates under Apple’s AppleCare and apparently complements the device testing that’s already done before launch.
Apparently, Apple relies on its huge chain of retail stores to have the faulty iPhones shipped to California for close inspection, which seems to be a significant advantage over competitors, as Apple’s Genius Bar staff can immediately identify issues and have the returned units sent to Apple’s headquarters.
Apple can then track a problem “down to individual workers on an assembly line,” the publication writes, and fix it before more units are similarly affected.
With EFFA’s help, Apple managed to fix issues with faulty touchscreens for the original iPhone in 2007, as well as deal with a flaw near the earpiece that allowed sweat from the person’s face to trickle down inside the phone and short the screen.
The same EFFA team has likely analyzed the iPhone 4’s famous antennagate issue, although it took Apple quite some time to publicly acknowledge it and issue fixes – strangely, the report does not mention anything about that particular Apple PR mess, even though it learned about how the EFFA works from former Apple employees.
The iPhone 6 will likely launch soon after its September 9th announcement and Apple is expected to sell a record number of units this year – in other words, the pressure on EFFA engineers will be even greater than in previous years in the first weeks following the launch.