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So far, the early return rate on Apple Vision Pro is pretty low

Apple Vision Pro return rates are hard to parse

As it is a polarizing product, there are obviously some returns of Apple Vision Pro headsets. So far, the narrative that it is being returned in droves to Apple Retail appears false.

When opinions on a product are as wide-ranging as they are on Apple Vision Pro, you've got to expect some disappointment from some. And with that disappointment, comes returns.

Apple's generous return policies don't exactly discourage this kind of thing. Apple allows returns to be made within 14 days of purchase for just about any reason, assuming that you're returning the product complete.

The narrative started on Wednesday that return season was here, citing Twitter sources and complaints about the headset. They're all reasonable complaints by the returners — but to hold a them up as a sign of mass returns isn't.

With the help of sources inside Apple's retail chain at 24 mostly US east coast stores, I've been keeping an eye on return volumes as best as I can for the last week. So far, there doesn't appear to be that much in the way of returns, and certainly not a cataclysmic flood.

As of publication, at about 1PM Eastern Time on February 16, the rate that Apple Vision Pro is being returned doesn't seem to be any higher than other Apple products.

I'm going to precede these quotes with a unified statement on them all. All of these folks would get so incredibly fired should Apple figure out who they are, so they will not be named. To anybody.

What Apple employees are telling me about Apple Vision Pro returns

"We've had a few in a few days, not outside the normal range for new stuff across the entire region," one senior Apple Retail employee that we've been talking to for over a decade who is not authorized to speak on behalf of the company told me on Friday morning. "Maybe like not-pro iPhone levels, proportionately, two weeks after release?"

Other sources inside retail told me that Apple appeared to expect a high return rate, given in-store support documentation on the matter. Still, though, the surge doesn't appear to have happened.

"We've got a checklist we got given to follow on returns, make sure all the pieces are there, the packaging is intact, and that kind of thing," another source at another store told me. "I think I've used it twice this week."

I don't have any visibility as it pertains to online returns. There's no reason to believe that returns through that channel are any higher proportionally to that at retail, though.

And, it's hard to get data for a return rate. I don't know how many units have sold in total at retail, nor have a good idea how many have been sold per store.

Data collection is further complicated by the fact that online sales tend to get returned at retail, more often than the other way around.

"When the [Apple Silicon] Mac Pro shipped, we only sold a couple," the senior source told me. "Most of the returns we had for it were bought online. That's the same with Apple Vision Pro, so far."

All I can do right now is base the conclusion on what the retail folks who have been handling this kind of return for some time can tell us about the situation. Apple itself isn't ever going to say, or give data.

Who is returning the Apple Vision Pro?

Beyond buyer's remorse for a $3500 purchase, there are two main groups that are returning the product. The first group is buyers that immediately have a biological incompatibility with the headset.

"Most of our returns, by far, are within a day or two. They're the folks that get sick using it," one source told me, echoing what I've heard for a week from others. "The pukers, the folks that get denied by prescription-filling, that kind of thing. They know real quick."

There other major return segment of the tech-using public appears to be media producers who are using the purchase as a free rental. When I asked who seemed to be returning the headset the most, we got a clear answer.

"It's just the f***ing YouTubers so far," one retail employee exasperatedly told me late on Thursday.

I was amused by the vehemence of the response, and so was rest of the AppleInsider staff when I shared it in our Slack. So, I asked other Apple retail staffers about it.

"Oh yeah, those guys, yeah. Every product, every time," one contact said to me. "I'm going to hunt you down if I hear you returned yours."

To the source above, since I know you read: the image starting off this piece is purely representative.

February 16 is the two-week deadline from first-day receipt of the headset. We'll be keeping an eye on this tonight and over the weekend, and will update accordingly, should the situation change.

And, in case you were wondering, we aren't returning any across the AppleInsider staff.