Last month, rumors began swirling around the web that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) would begin charging for out-of-warranty online chat support beginning in the first week of March. Unfortunately, at least for Apple, the company experienced issues with the roll-out of the program as its struggled to build a program that would allow for the billing of customers in iChat.

Apple

The primary problem the company experienced was in making sure that customer data remained secure when it was transferred to between support staff, according to a report by 9to5mac.com. However, for those that need support today, it’s believed that you may get away with free support for at least the first half of the day today.

How it works

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) confirmed that the system was nearly finished and a customer support member shared the following “How it works” with 9to5Mac:

How it will work is I will be able to send you a link in our Chat that you would be able to follow. From that link you will then be taken to an Apple website that will allow you to put in your Credit Card information to make the payment. Afterwards it will update in my system showing me that you have payed for the coverage and that you’re now eligible for support… That is actually where we are having a bit of trouble today, in sending the link as it is now showing up as it should. Once it is working properly however it is a very simple process.

The link that is sent will be valid for 24 hours. The pay per incident fee to set up hardware repairs and replacements will cost $19 but it never hurts to ask for an exception. That exception was the loophole that Apple needed to close. Chat support staff were instructed to automatically grant all exceptions while the payment system had its bugs ironed out this month. Apple will, however, continue to grant exceptions on a number of iCloud related issues as well as accidental damage claims where customers are simply looking to set up a repair or replacement using chat. Given that those claims will cost the user plenty in the case of replacement, it’s hardly magnanimous of Apple to wave the $19.

Apple: “Here to Help”

With the announcement today Apple, perhaps trying to overshadow the fact that it’s going to start taking your money, explained its new “Here to Help” program for its AppleCare Advisors. The program will be made up of three-day training sessions that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hopes will “will transform AppleCare by sharpening our focus on our customers’ experience while continuing to provide fantastic product support.”