After opening shop in Canada in 2014, consumer technology repair chain uBreakiFix has now struck up its first Canadian carrier partnership with Telus.
Through the partnership, Telus representatives can book same-day repair appointments on a customer’s behalf at the closest uBreakiFix location in lieu of sending the phone to be repaired at a manufacturer’s repair centre. While Telus customers don’t get any specific discount, they do receive a one-year parts and labour warranty, rather than the standard 90-day warranty the repair brand usually supplies.
The new partnership allows Telus to provide a solution to customers who don’t have a phone insurance program and whose repair isn’t covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, and it gives uBreakiFix Canada an advantage over competitors like Mobile Klinik and iRepair.
Telus and other potential partners
UBreakiFix, founded in Orlando, Florida in 2009, is no stranger to carrier partnerships in the U.S. (its largest partner being Verizon) so it’s no surprise the brand is delving into them in Canada, as well. UBreakiFix Canada president Jordan Socran says the brand had to build out enough franchises here before delving into partnerships, however.
“We’ve been aware that to do any partnerships on a national level would require decent presence in all major markets,” Socran told MobileSyrup. “So we feel we’re getting there and this opportunity is really timely.”
Socran further noted that uBreakiFix is speaking with other carriers about partnerships.
MobileSyrup sources indicated that the chain is in serious discussions with Quebec-based Vidéotron and east coast carrier Eastlink.
Vidéotron told MobileSyrup it could not “confirm or announce anything for the moment,” while Eastlink did not respond with comment.
For its part, Socran says uBreakiFix is well-positioned for these partnerships because it’s ‘agnostic’ in what it does, refraining from selling any plans, prepaid services or phones.
“We’re completely focused on repair so if Telus sends us a customer, we’re not trying to switch them to Bell […] we treat customers within the brand bubble that sent them to our store and get them out within the same bubble as quickly as possible and back to having a great experience with that brand.”
Google and Samsung partnerships
This tactic has led to partnerships with some major smartphone brands, in addition to carriers. It is the exclusive walk-in referral for fixing Google Pixel phones in North America, and is also closely partnered with Samsung Canada.
Socran believes uBreakiFix Canada is Samsung’s largest walk-in provider just by the virtue of its number of locations. Currently that number is 26, but Socran says uBreakiFix Canada has sold 72 franchises in total — so many more are imminent.
In case those partnerships weren’t enough, Socran says uBreakiFix is also servicing a “number of business and corporate clients.”
Even when I bring up Brightstar as potential competition — the smartphone insurers just announced they are providing repairs for Rogers customers — to Socran it’s just another opportunity for partnership.
“It’s possible that a company like Brightstar would have its own repair people, but more often than not they outsource that part of the business, so that’s a great opportunity for uBreakiFix […] I definitely view them as an opportunity versus a competitor,” said Socran.
‘We were kind of like pirates in the old days’
But while uBreakiFix’s strategy seems to be focused on partnerships today, it wasn’t always that way.
“I think we were kind of like pirates in the old days,” said Socran, “Doing unauthorized repairs with unauthorized parts — like everyone else in the space — and now the market is maturing a bit and we find ourselves being able to partner with large manufacturers and other players in the mobile device space and do official repairs with authorized parts, so I think it’s a transitional time.”
Socran says uBreakiFix wants to stay on that path, continuing to partner wherever it can. If it manages to do that successfully, it may end up slotting into many different steps of the consumer tech repair chain in Canada.
“People want their devices maintained and repaired very quickly through authorized relationships wherever possible,” said Socran.
“UBreakiFix is as well positioned as anyone to be a dominant player in mobile device repair.”