Beware AppleCare!

I ordered a MacBook Pro last April, the first Apple laptop I’ve ever owned. 

I remember when because I ordered it on my birthday. I ordered it after happily using Windows for decades. I did so because I was weary, weary of listening to friends I otherwise respect admonish my use of Windows whenever I’d ask simple questions  like "What’s a good Windows apps for taking screenshots" and "How do I use TortiseSVN?" They’d tell me if only I were to use a Mac the angels would bless me and ensure I’d never experience a bad day, ever, from the day forward owning a Mac. They promised continued sunshine where ever I went, and that the temperate would never dip below 72 degrees. (None of that ever happened, but I do digress…)

Of course I didn’t believe them but like Patty Hurst back in the 70s I had lost perspective on what was real and what was hyperbole. I was fatigued. I wanted to be able to ask a question and get a suggestion without all of the bravado and bluster. I just wanted it to stop. So I caved. I spent about $2500 on a MacBook Pro instead of waiting a few months to spend the saner $1250 for a Dell running Windows 7.  And like any good new cult member would have, I pruchased AppleCare to go along with it.  A full $350 worth of AppleCare.  Hey, I had purchased Dell’s 3 year extended service, why wouldn’t I purchase AppleCare?

So my new MacBook Pro arrived and I decided I would give it my all. It was frustrating at first (the Mac is designed for people who don’t want to use the keyboard; it’s all about click, click, click. But once again, I digress.)  After almost a year I’ve gotten around most of it’s annoyances (software like Cinch and TotalFinder have made a real difference, but there’s still lots missing.)

Of course I dropped my Mac about a month after getting it thanks to the magnetic "MagSafe" power cord snagging and caused me loose my grip on the computer (I "quoted" MagSafe for a reason…) It fell about a foot. Didn’t actually cause the computer a problem, gotta give it that. The screen was fine. The hard disk continues to run fine to this day. I was impressed even though I’d easily dropped my Dell similarly several times of which I never experienced agailer. But dropping that Unibody did put a kink, literally, in the (evidently) butter-firm aluminum case. And evidently I’m not alone in my sturdiness test results, either. Ouch, just like your first dent in your new car, and so early in my ownership. Ah well.

Fast forward to today. In less than one (1) year my battery was failing (took 1.5 years for my Dell) and my Enter key "broke." The little pin-sized flinger on the back so small I can’t take a clear picture of it, that’s what broke.  No problem, I’ll head to the Apple store where they’ll take care of me and my keyboard and if I’m lucky they’ll give me another battery for having proven my loyal Appleistsa credentials since I bought AppleCare for my less than 1 year old objet du désir. Little did I know what was waiting for me at the Apple store…

As a quick aside, I came to love my Dell during my 2+ years with her runing Windows Vista as my primary computer.  She gave me about 7 hours of battery life between charges on 2 batteries. I would go places and rarely ever bring a power supply. It was awesome.  (With my Mac I’m always painfully cognizant of being battery powered cause I know it ain’t gonna last…) Once my Dell she had a bad battery which they happily replaced, no questions asked. Twice I had her mouse key break yet Dell sent me a new case for free each time (they didn’t sell the mouse key separately. Silly, but hey, they replacde it!)  Still, time marches on in ‘puterland ahd she was getting weighted down with too many files in too little of a hard disk. And her processor just wasn’t as captivating as those of the younger models. It was time for a new relationship. That’s when I succumbed to the siren song of the cult of Mac.

Back at the Apple store they took my Mac and did unmentionable things with it in the back, I’m sure, only to return after a long stay to tell me how they would going to replace my battery as a favor (viola!) However, because of my MagSafe mishap they decided to void my AppleCare, that which hadn’t even started! And that meant they were not going to replace my broken enter key "Because the dent might have caused the Enter key to break!" (he didn’t say that, but he implied that by saying "We can’t know what problems your dent caused.")  Give me an f-ing break; the dent didn’t cause the Enter key to break.  So there you go; my 11 month old Mac with AppleCare purchased but Apple won’t replace the keyboard that broke due to faulty design (they admitted the new MacBooks have different Enter keys; might there be a reason there, eh?)

"Of course you can send it back to be recertified and that will restore your AppleCare" he said. "How much?" I asked? "Between ~$600 and ~$1200." WHAAAAAT?  "You mean I have to pay 1/2 as much as I paid for the entire computer one year ago just to recertify my warranty?  Are you serious?!?" And he replied "Yes" with a straight face. So let’s see, I can buy a brand new 15" Dell with a faster processor, the same memory and a larger hard disk for $499, but it’s gonna take 150% or 300% of that for Apple to fix my case dent and reinstate the warranty I already paid for, even though there is no other sign of damage to the computer?

"So what are my other options?" I asked. He said he’d be happy to replace the Enter key if I could come back to the store and periodically ask if they have a late-2008 DOA that they could cannablize.  I asked "Can you just keep track and let me know?" "Oh no, the Apple Store at Lenox is too busy for that." He suggested I drop by the Perimeter store. I said I’d just call ahead and he said "Oh no, the people answering the phone won’t have to time to help you with that." Great, my option is to drive around town to stores wasting time and gas to just ask if they have an older model that can be cannibablized so I can get my g-d Enter key fixed? And hell, they don’t even sell those Enter keys sans full keyboard notwithstanding the fact that in my certified opinion they are clearly of faulty design. Hello?

In frustration I told my Apple attendance I’d just get a keyboard off of eBay to which my Apple "Genius" countered: "Oh no, if you open the computer Apple technicians will know and they will tag my computer’s serial number as unservicable!" I couldn’t believe this. This is the company that has people stanpay outrageous prices, and then rave about them? Are Apple cult members mad? Or are Mac zealots always just in a Stockholm state of mind?

Now some members of the cult of Mac will admonish me saying "DON’T DROP YOUR LAPTOP" but they are missing the point. I didn’t ask Apple to replace my dented case, I asked them to fix my keyboard. The Enter key did not break because of the dent in the case; any fool can tell that. And I’d be fine with a caveat that if something failed that could reasonably have been caused by the dent then I’d be okay if I had to pay for repairs. BUT TO VOID THE ENTIRE WARRANTY?!?  They didn’t even offer to refund of the $350 I paid for AppleCare given I haven’t even gotten past my first year of ownership where the standard warranty should still apply! 

Apple, you suck.

Hell, turns out I’m not alone in having my AppleCare voided willy-nilly. Seems that Apple looks for many reasons to void AppleCare (hey I’m a militant non-smoker but my enemy’s enemy is my friend.) Steve’s gotta keep those profits up. Guess the iPod alone’s not enough to keep Wall Street happy.  Sheesh.

Lesson Learned? You can’t trust Apple.  Skip the Mac, buy a Dell; you’ll thank me for it.

P.S. Yes I know there are some alternate solutions which I will pursue, but I paid a premium price for a premium product and I paid extra for extended warranty and it got me treated by Apple like a Saturday night drunk at a Waffle House.  Not what I expected, not when I deserve.

P.P.S. Though admittedly not as bad, this scenario is starting to remind me of the time American Airlines lost my reservation and then had the manager’s manager call me a liar.  My $500 AA ticket turned into an $1150 ticket, but USAir sold me one for $850 instead. So American’s custom dis-service cost me $350 in 1990 and I was called a liar. And over a million frequent flyer miles later I’ve avoided flying AA whenever possible and probably told this story 500 times over.

P.P.S. Want to turn this around Apple?  Do the right thing. Just reinstate my warranty.

22 comments ↓

#1 Paul Lockwood on 04.10.10 at 4:20pm

You are not alone. Apple treats customers terribly, but in general I still think some of the products are worth the money

Years ago my iPod Mini went south about 8 months into ownership. It worked, but the battery lost charge in one to two hours

It cost $30 for evaluation by Apple. After coughing up they sent a pre-paid mailer, kept the device several weeks and finally mailed it back concluding it worked fine. They kept the $30. A replacement battery cost $15 online and only took about fifteen minutes to install

#2 MikeSchinkel on 04.10.10 at 5:53pm

@Paul - Yeah, thanks for the comment. I’m still feeling frazzled by the news so I won’t say much else otherwise I’ll sound like a broken record.

#3 Daniel Roberts on 04.15.10 at 9:50pm

Thanks for sharing that. I’ve got a Dell that after 3 years the graphics card has desoldered from the mobo due to an overheating design flaw. It would be out of warranty, but they extended it another year due to the design flaw. Same thing happened to a friend a few months back and he’s got a new dell laptop for free. I was going to ebay my new one and get a powerbook pro for editing on the go, but after reading your story, can you say hackintosh?

#4 MikeSchinkel on 04.15.10 at 11:10pm

Hi Daniel. Thanks! I hope it wasn’t being too negative for you. I just wish Apple acted like the cared.

#5 Jason Prance on 04.16.10 at 4:31pm

Steve Job’s farts rainbows, how could anything ever go wrong? I don’t understand. :)

Sorry to hear the trouble you ran into, that whole voiding of the warranty thing truly does stink and your story has raised a little awareness on my end. After being a PC user all my life, I still enjoy OSX so much more.

Maybe the iPad would be more resilient, you should buy that next. Hah.

#6 Mike Stevenson on 05.06.10 at 10:31pm

Wow, that’s a horrible experience you had. I can’t believe they would void your warranty for dropping your computer. I know this doesn’t help your situation now, but there are other warranty options to consider in the future. There is a 3rd party provider called SquareTrade that will cover everything that AppleCare does as well as drops and other mishaps, including water damage. You can see their full line of Apple Coverage options by hovering over my name and clicking.

#7 Quayzar on 05.13.10 at 2:01am

I brought my Mac into a third party Apple repair centre and just got a message that because I installed smcFanControl my MacBook’s warranty was void. How the hell can they void my computers warranty by installing an app that does nothing but allow you to increase the fan speed manually. It has no ability to lower the fan speed and it still allows the SMC to increase the fan higher if needed. This is dodgy ass hell. I am going to be on the phone and travelling around a lot tomorrow.

I will update with anymore details if things change after a good talking.

#8 MikeSchinkel on 05.13.10 at 10:34am

@Quayzar: Wow, that’s even worse than mine. Just goes to show Apple is not a great company to do business with.

#9 Bob on 05.20.10 at 4:10pm

You know… even if you “void” your warranty by doing something to your computer that they refuse to fix, you CAN get a refund on it, even after the fact. You just have to call in, ask for a refund on your AppleCare, and they can prorate the refund back to when your computer was damaged. Worked great for me, they got the money back to my card in about a week. The kids in retail suck sometimes.

#10 MikeSchinkel on 05.20.10 at 5:26pm

Thanks @Bob. I ended up asking for a refund and they said Apple would give it (I haven’t had time to follow up since) but the retail kids (who suck, yes) should have mentioned that. Apple should train them better.

#11 Ray Gulick on 05.21.10 at 12:54pm

Mike - I’ve owned Macs for almost 20 years (I think I’m on my 7th), but I’ve never purchased AppleCare, so I have no experience with it or the limitations it imposes on its “service.” In my experience, if something is going to go wrong with a new Mac, it will happen in the first 12 months, while it’s still covered by the warranty. If I drop it, of course, I expect to pay to have it fixed. I try really hard not to do that. ;-)

#12 Cool Springs Todd on 08.03.10 at 2:36pm

I’ve been going back and forth trying to convince myself that an Apple is overall better than PC. I’m still going back and forth although creeping closer and closer towards Apple.

Are you excited for WordCamp Savannah? I can’t wait!

#13 MikeSchinkel on 08.03.10 at 6:12pm

Hey Todd. If I had to do over I’d stick with Windows, especially now that Win7 is out. It’s cheaper and you don’t get frustrated by the limitations and inconsistency of the Apple GUI nor do you pay 2x for essentially the same machine.

I’m someone excited about Savannah. These days I prefer not to travel so that’s one negative for me. See you there I guess?

#14 Alex on 08.30.10 at 9:53am

Why did u just drop it? Why didn’t u try harder? I’d had it fired, then covered by water, then only after send it to apple…
I have macs sinse 2005 and i’m happy with all of them, had all kind of situations, but I agree with Ray Gulick… if something has to happen to a mac, it happens within first 12 months usually, not a strong rule of course.

#15 MikeSchinkel on 08.30.10 at 12:36pm

@Alex, I take it in Russia no one ever has accidents or makes mistakes?

After 12 months little things like keyboards break, etc. If you buy a Dell and their 3 year plan, they fix it. Evidently if you buy an Apple and their 3 year plan, you’ve only just made Steve’s company more profitable.

#16 Andy Fletcher on 10.01.10 at 1:44pm

On the radio last month I heard a presenter talking about how much he loved his new iPod, and how he bought one every year as they never lasted longer than that (usually the batteries would no longer hold a charge).
It mystifies me how someone can be paying 5 times what any other company charges for an MP3 player, realise it’s actually of such poor quality it will fail within a year, and still buy from the same company again and again. That’s why I’ll never buy an Apple product - there’s got to be some kind of mind control built into their devices.
@Alex - that’s not Apple, it’s everyones’ products. If it runs for a full year without issue, it’ll run for a long time.

#17 Jeff S on 01.05.11 at 7:06pm

Mike,
Just found your site.
Great Apple story.
I don’t have any but the boys like the i-crap.

#18 MikeSchinkel on 01.05.11 at 7:09pm

Is that “Uncle Jeff?!?” :)

#19 Pete S on 01.05.11 at 9:18pm

You answered your own question.

#20 MikeSchinkel on 01.06.11 at 12:25am

Sometimes family can be annoying (and I’m NOT speaking for my Uncle here.)

#21 Bob on 02.11.12 at 9:51am

i know this is late, and wish i would of came across this a long time ago. I have had more apple products then i can count 20+. Macbooks, Macbook pro’s, Ipods, Imacs, Iphones, you name it i have one, had one, and will have more. I have had to deal with apple care numerous times, this is what i found. DONT LISTEN TO WHAT THEY TELL YOU. They tell you that if you open the laptop apple will know and void your warranty. Apple has no way of knowing unless you mess something up. i have changed out hard drives, ram, superdrives, you name it, and apple doesn’t seem to really care, they just say that they care. If they tell you that they can’t help you, ask for management, when management says they cant help you, ask for there management. No matter the problem, if i have presisted, apple care has never failed me. I one time had a case where i was told they were flagging my laptop and the warranty was void. I decided i didn;t like talking to that apple representative, called back and found someone who was willing to help, and they took care of the problem. its all about who you talk to. If one guy says they can’t fix it, find some apple tech who says they will. I’m sorry for you experience, but cry a little louder to the right people, and i bet you could get that problem fixed!

#22 neil on 05.19.13 at 4:04am

My 2012 MVP broke after 2 months. Apple care is substandard.
They have my Mac for way too long and now wish I had bought 2 dells or Acer … Anything but apple :/

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