MacBook Pro damage: I REALLY need a hug
September 9, 2008 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Work gave me an awesome laptop. Which fell out of my computer bag 3 days later. Now what?

My office recently purchased a very, very, very nice laptop for me to use (top of the line Macbook Pro). Less than a week later, I'm picking up my laptop bag when it falls out from over a foot high, onto the concrete floor at a friend's loft. Powers on but the hard drive is shot, bottom frame is bent in several places and dented, who knows what else -- the damage is nasty.

I feel really horrible about this because 1) it was the nicest, prettiest, fastest computer I've ever used 2) I've only been working here for 2 months 3) I constantly worry about doing a good job at work anyway, and now THIS.

My boss and the tech guy seemed very "oh well" matter of fact about it, but at times I'm beside myself worrying about what they REALLY think (well, mostly my boss.) The laptop is now out for repair, but there's no way it will come back looking like new, if it's deemed "repairable" at all. So, now what? Do I offer to buy a new one? No, I don't have surpluses of extra money so I'll be buying this on credit. I *do* work for a large employer, but it's academia so it's not like writing off financial issues is taken casually.

Besides the "how do I deal with this?" human relations question, I also have a technical note: how reparable is the MBP, anyway? I've only owned PCs made of either plastic or, I think titanium? (IBM thinkpad T-series) and nothing like this has ever happened before. :(
posted by NikitaNikita to Grab Bag (22 answers total)
Speaking as a former IT guy... shit happens. I've seen it all. The fact that you're new doesn't make this any worse than if you were the founder of the company (In fact, the founder of the company I worked for did exactly what you did. Screen got smashed. Not under warranty anymore. $1000 repair.).

Don't worry about it, and don't offer to buy them a new one. It was an accident. This is why companies have IT departments, warranties, insurance, and budgets. In the grand scheme of things, it is not a lot of money to them.
posted by autojack at 11:09 AM on September 9, 2008

Your boss and the tech guy probably REALLY think "oh well." They may stop thinking that if you keep laptop-dropping. Don't worry about it. It was an accident. Shit happens. Don't offer to buy a new one. And look on the bright side—you dropped it when you didn't have a whole bunch of irreplaceable data on it yet. The work you do and data you produce on the laptop is probably worth a lot more than the value of the laptop itself. Laptops are just things that are replaceable; work is far more valuable. As for how the laptop will come back, the repair will probably replace all of the bent/dented metal pieces.
posted by zsazsa at 11:11 AM on September 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

The president of a company I once worked for lost his laptop off the side of his sailboat once. I never could figure how such an even came to pass, but that was the story - slip, ploop, down into the murky depths. I doubt anyone is very concerned about it. Try to make sure it doesn't happen again though as that's when they might start forming a negative opinion.
posted by GuyZero at 11:14 AM on September 9, 2008

No way should you offer to pay for this yourself, jeez. Stuff breaks, it's a business expense that responsible large organizations plan for.

Make sure your boss knows you're sorry and take affirmative steps to make sure accidents like this don't happen again. Use a laptop bag with a clasp/strap/whatever and make sure it is always secured when the laptop is inside. Always gently place the bag with laptop on the floor, never drop it. When out of the bag, always carry the laptop with two hands.

In a year you'll be telling your boss how upset this incident made you, and you'll both have a big laugh at what a scared newbie you used to be.
posted by skallagrim at 11:17 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

It would be an entirely different matter if it were, say, a friend's laptop. This is a piece of office equipment; it belongs to the company, not any individual. No single person is going to have to pay out, so there's little likelihood of any resentment. It's really a drop in the ocean, and you'd probably be amazed if you know how wasteful the average large company is anyway.

If it's any consolation, a school I once worked at issued really nice new laptops to all the teachers one year. That very evening one teacher, finding that she couldn't work out how to open hers, decided to 'persuade' it by shoving a large screwdriver between the two halves and levering it apart. It might have worked had she levered it from the side that was supposed to open...
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:19 AM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

My boss and the tech guy seemed very "oh well" matter of fact about it, but at times I'm beside myself worrying about what they REALLY think (well, mostly my boss.)

Don't worry. Take their response at face value. Your employer probably issues hundreds if not thousands of laptops to employees, and a certain fraction of them will inevitably be damaged through incidents such as yours. They've planned for that. Don't offer to pay for the repair.

If you did something like that every month, you might be right to be worried. But just once could happen to anyone.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:21 AM on September 9, 2008

Speaking as a current IT guy, "oh well" is almost certainly what they're really thinking. Shit happens, in fact you'd be amazed at how much shit happens to laptops. Dropping it? Really, really not unusual. Now, if you'd handed it over for repair covered in flour and with water damage (yes, they were using it in the kitchen) you might have raised an eyebrow or two. This is what warranties and insurance are FOR.

As already said, don't worry about it, don't offer to replace it, just don't make a habit of it or your next upgrade might be an etch-a-sketch. And use this experience to remind you to take backups. Lots of backups.

As far as repair; they'll replace the drive, and possibly the motherboard. Depending upon the structural damage to the case, they may replace that too, but that's not that common. If it's seriously damaged, it may be written off and just replaced by the insurance company.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:23 AM on September 9, 2008

$3K for a nice MBP is not much for a company that buys such things for its new employees. As an IT guy I have replaced more dropped and abused laptops than I care to admit, but I never passed judgement on the user (at least until a pattern of abuse develops ;). Do not worry about this, it's part and parcel of working for a large company that can buy you these things. Welcome to adulthood!
posted by rhizome at 11:37 AM on September 9, 2008

Our Executive Director went to a Baseball game and left his laptop in the car - where of course it got stolen. That's 1000x worse than accidentally dropping your laptop. He didn't even apologize, and made his secretary file the police report. Shit happens, so don't sweat it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:56 AM on September 9, 2008

People lose and break their work laptops all the time - don't stress about it.
posted by foodgeek at 12:07 PM on September 9, 2008

I agree with everything that's been said. Speaking from an IT point of view, it's the second butterfingers incident that people start to wonder about. Everyone gets a free pass on their first fumble.
posted by pmbuko at 12:49 PM on September 9, 2008

I agree not to worry about it. HOWEVER, I have a different opinion on offering to pay for it. I would. I seriously doubt that it would be accepted. You will look like an employee who cares about the company's equipment without having to actually pay. In the event they do take you up on your offer, well at least you know what kind of company in which you work.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:55 PM on September 9, 2008

Not particularly on topic, but worth a chuckle...

Back in the pre-internet early 90s, I worked for a company that sold client-server software. The demo setup was a Windows laptop, a SunOS compatible laptop (a brick, even by the standards of that day), an external hard drive that was about the size of an unabridged dictionary, and all the cabling necessary to link them together. Back in that day, this setup was quite costly, especially for our little struggling company.

It all fit nicely into a carry-on suitcase, which our VP of sales schlepped to customer sites. One time, he got on an up escalator, rested the suitcase on its end next to him. Thinking it was safely situated on the step, he took his hand off the handle. It rolled all the way down the escalator, and then sat there going up a couple of steps, rolling back down, repeat... until the VP got back down to retrieve it.

We laughed for months picturing the event.
posted by tippiedog at 12:55 PM on September 9, 2008

I worked at a television station where a guy put a $30,000 television camera on a tripod, but not only forgot to lock the plate, but he didn't even put it in the plate; he just rested it on top. He was new to the company. Needless to say, it fell off the tripod and was significantly damaged.

They sent it out for repair, he got scolded, but mostly they taught him how to use the plate and he went back to work. A few weeks later, he did it again and they fired him.

Similarly, I worked somewhere else (in a publicly-accessible building) where a person got a laptop and had a habit of leaving it out where the public could get to it. She ignored our warnings about theft, so we took it and hid it in a drawer. She freaked, then we gave it back, hoping the lesson had taken.

The same day, she left it out again, and it was stolen for real. She wasn't given another laptop, and she didn't last much longer.

So yeah, shit happens, and IT isn't going to give you a hard time (and neither is your boss) for this. However, if it becomes a habit, you'll probably get fired for being careless. Learn from this mistake, and be more careful.

ALso, never ever offer to "buy a new one" or anything like that. These laptops, they're not gifts, they're tools; you wouldn't buy them a new desk if you sat on your desk and it broke, would you? You just wouldn't sit on it again. Same thing here with the laptop.
posted by davejay at 12:56 PM on September 9, 2008

And to answer the part of your question that everyone ignored: Doesn't sound very repairable to me. It will probably require a new case and the labour is the hard part here. If Apple deems is as "user abuse" it will not be a warranted repair.

You're looking at about half the cost of a new one to repair (best guess).

And no, don't offer to buy a new one, don't worry about it happening (other than to feel bad), and don't do it again.

As much as I value the hardware, usually what's on it is more important.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:11 PM on September 9, 2008

Yeah, you definitely get a free pass the first time.

I've worked with people who seem really hard on company equipment, and I do think they're sort of asses for that, but you don't sound like that.

If you drop or break three or four, you may be in trouble. :)
posted by rokusan at 3:02 PM on September 9, 2008

I work in IT -- we buy complete care for this reason. Business involves risk -- some to resources such as this. A $4k laptop is still only part of what the company 'lost' hiring you (think training, low productivity for you and people training you, etc).

We lose a few laptops a year; and I could care less. We plan for it. It doesnt matter if its Joe in accounting or Bob in sales as long as a. We dont lose any data (!!), or b. it doesn't happen again.
posted by SirStan at 3:47 PM on September 9, 2008

I worked for a small company a few years ago and the owner left his laptop on the roof of his car and drove away. crunch.
Dont' sweat it. Be more careful.
posted by jockc at 4:10 PM on September 9, 2008

Nthing "shit happens, just don't do it again". I work for an organization that's so cheap they won't buy us Kleenex, and even they have insurance for this kind of thing.
posted by shiny blue object at 5:16 AM on September 10, 2008

Instead of offering to pay, offer to be the lead on your company's new "Always Backup Your Data, You Never Know What Could Happen" employee reminder project.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:01 AM on September 10, 2008

Be kind to the IT guys. Just be businesslike. ("I thought it was zipped/strapped in, but it really wasn't.") Don't make up an elaborate excuse as to why it wasn't your fault because ... we really don't care, and you're actually looking more like someone to be careful of for doing that (elaborate story).
posted by dhartung at 4:16 PM on September 10, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback y'all... definately makes me feel somewhat about the situation. Still worried about the boss' take on this, though, as the repair bill is yet to return. Wish me luck.
posted by NikitaNikita at 11:49 AM on September 11, 2008

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