Should I try to get my MacBook Pro fixed or maybe even upgraded?
November 15, 2006 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Should I try to get my MacBook Pro fixed through Applecare, even though I broke it myself? Has anyone heard of Apple allowing you to trade-in and upgrade?

I bought a 15" MBP in the spring and have been using and loving it every day since ... but ...

A few months ago I knocked it off of a shelf while it was open and on. Everything still works, but I have to pull the top forward to get it to close and it will no longer stay asleep while closed.

A few people have told me that Apple will fix it (even though applecare doesn't officially cover carelessness) and one person even suggested that I can upgrade through Apple to a new Core Duo model for a nominal fee.

Does anyone have experience with either scenerio?
posted by likeSoy to Technology (14 answers total)
I got Applecare to fix a broken CD player that I obviously broke myself. There was impact damage from a fall -- the whole CD tray actually got knocked out of the laptop and wouldn't go back in. Just submit it for a repair, the worst they can say is no.
posted by robinpME at 7:30 AM on November 15, 2006

Sure, you should try. I mean, what have you got to lose? It's possible someone will take pity on you.

Sadly. . . I have never heard of Apple offering upgrades for a nominal fee six months (or, really, even six days) after you bought the machine.

Did you buy the machine with a credit card? Some cards offer insurance on purchases that is a lot more inclusive than AppleCare. (I refer you to a previous answer.)
posted by veggieboy at 7:30 AM on November 15, 2006

Without getting into the ethical, moral, or legal implications of doing something like this, I do know a guy who once spilled a bottle of Coke into his PowerBook and, after washing out the Coke residue, returned it to Apple and got a new logic board.

This was a few years ago, and I'm not sure if they knew right off what caused the problem or honestly thought that the part had failed, but they never said a darn thing about it.

It might have helped that it was a PowerBook that was known for having logic-board failures, so maybe when they saw it, they just said "ah, another bum mainboard" and swapped it without really looking.

So anyway, yes it's possible to get away with, if the damage isn't obvious. I think a lot of companies sort of look the other way when stuff like this happens, either because they want to keep you as a customer, or because they don't want to refuse to service something they should, and are erring on the side of caution.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:50 AM on November 15, 2006

A few people have told me that Apple will fix it (even though applecare doesn't officially cover carelessness) and one person even suggested that I can upgrade through Apple to a new Core Duo model for a nominal fee.

Both people are bullshitting. You might get lucky with the repair, but it's a gamble. I follow Apple closely, and the only time I've heard them offer a replacement (or upgrade) was after several attempts to repair a PowerBook failed, and lots of kicking and screaming.

Basically, you should take out real insurance on laptops if you don't want to pay for repairs. It usually isn't expensive.
posted by cillit bang at 7:54 AM on November 15, 2006

Yea, Apple isn't going to upgrade it for you, but in my experience you have a decent shot of getting it repaired for free. It mostly depends on how obvious it is that the damage is user-inflicted. It's definitely worth trying.
posted by raf at 7:57 AM on November 15, 2006

Well, for what it's worth, several of my friends have had pretty positive responses from Apple for damages that my friends were obviously responsible for. They were all smaller items than this (iPods and keyboards and the like), but their stuff was generally fixed/replaced without comment. My friends all stuck to the line "It just stopped working" while leaving out the quite obvious second half of that statement: "after I dropped it on the ground/spilled Coke on it/accidently let my textbook fall on it". (Playing dumb and flirting with the guys at the store probably also worked in their favor.)

Short answer: I agree with everyone else - give Apple a shot. You've got nothing to lose.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 8:28 AM on November 15, 2006

Yes, try and get Apple to fix it. If they say no, then you are no worse off than you were before.
posted by chunking express at 8:32 AM on November 15, 2006

You should take it to a local Apple authorized service center first. The anonymity of just sending it in does not make it more likely you'll get away with it.

Anyway, it sounds like your damage is either to the hinge or the bezel, or the frame of the machine. The hinge is an easy enough fix, though the parts can cost a couple of hundred bucks. If it's the display bezel or frame, it's not worth fixing if the machine is working ok and you don't need to take it on the road a lot. They are *very* expensive, and the repairs will approach the price of a nice new Core2Duo MBP.

Apple will not likely replace those items as a freebie and they're pretty strict about what damage they cover with displays, especially.

And the comment upthread is right. There is no "nominal cost" exchange program. Generally, Apple will replace a machine with a refurbed one after 3 or 4 failed attempts at the same repair, if you ask, in my rather extensive experience.

Frankly, why *should* Apple (and its other customers and shareholders) pay for damage you caused? Just asking is all. There is an ethical question here. Just because you can get away with something you know is not right doesn't mean you should.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:03 AM on November 15, 2006

I recently got my iBook keyboard replaced under Applecare after one of my furry friends knocked a glass of water on it.

After I dried the computer for a few days, and found that luckily only the keyboard was pooched, I went to the university bookstore where I originally purchased it and simply asked if I could have the keyboard replaced. The service personnel asked what happened to it, and when I paused a moment, asked, "Did you have an accident?" I said yes, and he said it would be covered to replace it. I was happy, as I'd called expecting to just get a price for the part.

However, he did say something about Apple not wanting to see keyboards returned to them? And this computer is almost at the end of its Applecare term of 3 years. So ymmv.
posted by loiseau at 10:02 AM on November 15, 2006

Mac/Applecare user for 10+ years here.

When I've had my laptops applecare serviced for completely legitimate reasons (i.e. disk failure), they almost always come back with all the things that I broke through carelessness replaced, as well as with the disk replaced.

For instance, the laptop I'm using right now, was damaged by a stack of CD-ROMS falling from my over-desk bookshelf onto the keyboard. Several of the keys were knackered; I popped them back on and kept using the machine, but some were cracked and others would pop off or get stuck down at random times. The machine needed a new keyboard, but since the damage was my fault, I was living with the damaged keyboard.

When Apple (applecare) repaired this machine after a disk failure, they returned it with not only a new disk but also a new keyboard and trackpad. Nice!

Answering fourcheesemac: So long as the damage is cheap to fix, fixing said damage is great PR. And if they're fixing it under Applecare, then the end-user has probably paid more for that extended warranty than apple will ever spend fixing the hardware, even for user-inflicted problems.
posted by u2604ab at 10:06 AM on November 15, 2006

I am an apple service provider. If the machine has any evidence of the drop then most places won't be able to help you, but depending on what parts of the machine are broken you may find someone to help even though they're not supposed to. Apple's favorite term for your problem is, "Abuse" and officially they will have nothing to do with paying for repairs on a machine they see as having been abused.

Sounds like you possibly bent or broke the bezel brace and/or the hinge. I haven't had reason to dig into a macbook pro display yet so it is hard to guess which components are most likely to be causing your troubles. If the case is bent then apple will not pay for your new case and the labor to install it. If the case is fine but the bezel brace or hinge are bent or broken then you might get lucky.

The sleep function works when a magnet in the display comes in close contact with a sensor under the keyboard. The magnet is on the very right side, a little bit less than half-way down. The drop probably knocked the magnet out of place. That issue should be easy to have fixed.

Drops are difficult to diagnose. As others have said, you have little to lose by trying to get it fixed. Worse case is that they are unable to hold back their laughs while saying no.
posted by J-Garr at 10:12 AM on November 15, 2006

Answering fourcheesemac: So long as the damage is cheap to fix, fixing said damage is great PR. And if they're fixing it under Applecare, then the end-user has probably paid more for that extended warranty than apple will ever spend fixing the hardware, even for user-inflicted problems.

Fine, then don't try to deceive them. Say "I dropped this machine, will you still fix it?" Or are you saying it's ok to lie to a big company since it's good PR for them?

As an Apple shareholder, I care. I think it's great they fix user-inflicted damage gratis if it's cheap. New hinges or a new bezel for a MBP? Hundreds of dollars. Returning it for repair and not saying how the machine was damaged when you know exactly how is a form of theft.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:51 PM on November 15, 2006

PS -- one major repair -- let's say a new bezel for an MBP -- costs more than three years of AppleCare. It's how they sell AppleCare.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:52 PM on November 15, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for the help/thoughts! Coupla clarifications ...

I would *never* entertain the idea of being dishonest about how the damage occured. Bad karma, bad business, 'nuff said. The question is how likely am I to get it fixed under Applecare with the cause being fully disclosed. I've been working 7 days a week for months, so a trip to the mall is time I can't afford to spend lightly.

Second, (and on the subject of Karma) my G3 iBook went back five (5) times for the logic board recall. It didn't cost me money out of pocket, but I was without my machine for a week each time. I never complained, and even defended the product to my friends and family when they suggested that, on balance, maybe Macs weren't worth the premium.

My point? If they do decide to fix my MBP under Applecare, I will not lose any sleep (again being totally above board about the cause of the damage).
posted by likeSoy at 4:20 PM on November 15, 2006

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