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Apple repair consultants upset over changes to Apple Retail referral policy

Members of the Apple Consultants Network are displeased with a recent change in policy by Apple that now outsources non-warranty support calls to a third-party service and has consultants compete against each other for referrals, according to a new report.

Apple has begun working with computer repair service provider OnForce to setup a new support structure for contracting non-Genius Bar repairs to certified Apple consultants, TUAW reports. Existing members of the Apple Consultants Network (ACN) are reportedly unhappy with the move.

Previously, Apple Store managers would create a referral list by interviewing consultants who had completed Apple’s certification process and paid the annual ACN fees. Customers at the store whose issues could not be resolved by the in-store Genius Bar were provided with business cards of eligible consultants.

This method, however, has reportedly “rubbed Apple Retail the wrong way,” as it gave Apple little oversight of pricing, quality and service.

According to report author Steven Sande, in 2009, “Apple began testing a new support structure that used an existing organization, OnForce, to distribute support calls to ACN members who wanted to sign up as part of the program.” After initial testing in the LA Basin and Boston areas in 2009 and the Denver/Boulder and Detroit markets in 2010, Apple is now rolling out the system on a nationwide level, the report noted.

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