Apple Repair Store on Freret accused of defrauding students

Hannah Mayer, News Editor

The Apple Repair New Orleans store on Freret Street, just a few blocks from campus, has been accused of defrauding multiple Tulane students. 

Some students said that their devices were not repaired properly while others said they were not able to get their devices back from the store at all. Parent Erin Gillett from California was determined to get to the bottom of the situation after she said that the store would not release her daughter’s phone, which they brought in for repair in October 2019.

“They have this really bizarre contract where they’re like, ‘don’t call us, you have to email us or text us.’ It’s the strangest contract I have ever seen in my life of anything,” said Gillett, whose daughter Lucy is currently a sophomore.

After her daughter’s phone was held for over a year and the store owner allegedly refused to give it back, Gillett exhausted all of her resources trying to get some answers. She called the police, who never came or responded, while visiting the store in person. She also contacted the attorney general and reached out to Apple, who also failed to respond to her, about trademark and logo use. While the store has no affiliation with Apple, there was nothing that could be done as the aforementioned contract protects the store owner. The attorney general informed Gillett that the only course of action for her would be to go to small claims court, which is time consuming and costly.

Tulane students Kenichi Yamaguchi and Sonya Dombrowski have also both had negative experiences bringing their Apple products to the repair store.

Dombrowski brought her phone in to get a cracked screen fixed back in the fall of 2018. While she was able to get her phone back after a week, her phone screen spontaneously popped off. Dombrowski said that despite being told by the repair store that there was a 30-day warranty, they refused to fix it due to her phone being bent. 

“My phone had been slightly bent for multiple years at that point, meaning it had been bent when they first agreed to repair it and subsequently did so,” Dombrowski said. “I told him this, but he basically accused me of lying so we exchanged some words and then I left.”

Yamaguchi went to the repair store in August 2020 to get a Macbook Pro fixed. They told him that there was a software issue, but that it would be an easy fix for them. After two days, the store emailed Yamaguchi saying that they could not fix the software, had deleted it and that he would have to go to the Apple Store to restore his entire system.

“Luckily, I saved all of my information via iCloud, therefore I did not take any course of action,” Yamaguchi said. “I left a very bad review on Google reviews.”

Apple Repair New Orleans is not accredited according to the Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit organization that recommends businesses that New Orleanians can trust. The BBB has given the store an F rating and their website houses eight customer complaints, most of which are similar to Gillett’s situation where the product has not been returned and the store has not contacted the customer. 

When asked to comment on the situation, Apple Repair New Orleans said “All you need to know is that we’re [a] struggling small business trying to get through this pandemic and help as many people as possible.”

Technology Connection, the Tulane tech repair store in the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life frequented by the students, does not repair iPhones

In order to protect students and their devices, Gillett said that it would be beneficial for the university to provide a list of reputable repair places close to campus, as the closest Apple Store is a 20-minute drive from campus.

“[Knowing] where you could go or where a reputable place to take [your devices] to would be a really helpful resource so people are not getting scammed,” Gillett said.