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How far does Apple’s international support reach?

TL;DR: Not very far.

Ok, so let’s say you’ve recently moved to Korea, and something happens to that shiny new iPhone you brought over from Canada.

Apple support is awesome, so almost instinctively, you look up where the nearest Apple store is. That’s odd, there isn’t a single Apple store in Korea. Not to worry, there are Authorized Apple Service Centres everywhere, right? You head over to Apple.com/kr and book a phone appointment.

Your phone rings the next day at 9am sharp, and you describe the situation to the Apple tech. Ten minutes pass, and you realize the guy on the other end has no idea how to deal with someone in your position. So you call the international hotline, 1–800-MYAPPLE, and they guarantee that bringing your phone in to one of those Authorized Apple Service Centres will make all your problems go away. Cool.

You promptly arrive at the local Apple repair shop, and explain your situation. Almost immediately, they turn you and your foreign bought device away, absolutely refusing to even touch it. You dial up 1–800-MYAPPLE again, and explain what happened. The service rep has run out of canned responses, so she transfers you to her superior.

An eternity’s worth of hold-music queues up, and you begin to question the choices you have made in your life. The 45 minute mark arrives, and just as you’re about to lose all hope, a meek, frail voice greets you. The superior has arrived, and despite a gentle demeanour, he informs you without hesitation that you’re completely SOL. Your one and only option is to mail the phone back to Canada, have someone physically bring it into an Apple store, then have the device mailed back to Korea. Awesome.

The next day you go to the post office. Not to worry they tell you, it’ll take 3 days and cost ₩45,000, so like $45. Sweet. You’re about to pull out your wallet when another employee see what’s about to happen, and informs her that actually… they can’t ship the phone to Canada, because anything containing a lithium battery cannot by shipped by air. But you can try Fedex or UPS, because their planes operate differently or something. Feeling optimistic yet?

Finally, you call up Fedex, and they tell you that you’ll need a Licensed Customs Broker in order to get the phone into the country. Wait, what? So you call up UPS, and while they say can do it sans-broker, it’ll only cost ₩97,000 (~97 bucks), which is before insurance, tracking, etc. And that’s just a one way trip.

Distraught and without any more options, you carefully tuck your shattered phone away into a drawer, and look up how much Samsungs cost.