Problems with shattered glass on the Apple Watch

Here’s part of a Toronto Star column I wrote last year about a quality issue with a high-end manufacturer:

Apple denies watch defect that sees screen break,
but makes time to fix it

By Ellen Roseman
Personal Finance Columnist
Mon., Dec. 24, 2018

Holly Harris bought an Apple Watch this past August, a Series 3 product currently selling at $369 to $499.

Just 20 days later, she had a frightening problem.

While watching TV, she reached across her watch to press a button to check data. The screen was raised and she tried to put it back in.

“As I did, the glass started to break into smithereens. I cut my hand,” she says.

Harris, a former elementary school principal who lives in Mississauga, went back to the Apple Store, hoping to get a new watch.

Instead, the store manager said she must have banged the screen, causing it to break. She would have to pay $299 to get it repaired.

Here’s the happy ending:

I forwarded her complaint to Tara Hendela, an Apple Canada spokesperson, on Nov. 7.

“I can’t believe how fast Apple responded,” Harris said the next day, adding that she was instructed to take pictures of her watch and send them to the head office in Cupertino, Calif.

On Dec. 3, she got the answer she had been waiting to hear.

“Great news. My contact just phoned and said Apple would repair (or replace if necessary) my watch at no cost to me. She said it was a one-time exception,” Harris said.

When I asked readers about their Apple Watch experiences, I found that Holly Harris was not alone in dealing with a watch face that came off, often violently.

Some people received free repairs under warranty. Others did not. Apple Canada did not respond to my requests for comments.

Matt Caron recently told me about his problematic purchase.

“The same thing happened to me. I was walking, heard a pop, looked at my watch and saw it was cracked around the perimeter of the screen,” he said.

He bought his Apple Watch, Series 3, on July 16, 2018, at Best Buy, along with a three-year Geek Squad warranty for $90. The sales representative said it was like Apple Care, but better.

The crack occurred one year and three days later (July 19, 2019). Both Best Buy and Apple blamed him for causing damage to the watch and said he didn’t qualify for an Apple screen replacement program.

Here’s his update, as of Sept. 16:

“I received a full refund for the warranty after saying that when I tried to use the warranty I paid for, Best Buy denied my claim. They still were not willing to repair the watch.

“I was informed today by Apple that my watch had come back from the depot, but was not repaired. I will pick it up tomorrow from the Apple Store in the Eaton Centre.

“I appreciate your support. Even if nothing happens, writing about my experience has been very helpful as I go through this process.”

If anything changes after Apple and Best Buy review this complaint, I will let you know.

You can find more information on this story and a link to Apple’s screen replacement program at my public Facebook page, where I  posted comments from users last December.

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.