Friday, August 22, 2008

MacBook glitch #3 - Solved!

If you read my blog, you might remember that about 2 years ago, I bought a black MacBook laptop from Apple.  I also purchased Apple's "AppleCare" extended warranty for it, which cost $249 (maybe a bit less since I'm an academic) and extended the warranty from 1 year to 3 years.  Extended warranties (usually the ones offered by retailers like Best Buy, Office Max and Circuit City) get their share of probably deserved criticism, but AppleCare is entirely manufacturer-run, like some (though perhaps not all) similar extended warranty plans offered by other computer makers.  Since I travel extensively and use my laptop for probably 10-14 hours a day, I like AppleCare.

Fairly early on - about three months and 20,000 miles in - I had some problems with its wireless internet capabilities, which turned out to be due to a defective AirPort card.  I "worked around" the issue for a while, then finally had the sense to take the laptop to an Apple retail store near my parents' house.  They disassembled it, swapped in a brand new wireless card, and put it back together, in 20 minutes, at no cost to me.  That card would've cost $50-$100, and then there's labor...

After about a year and 135,000 miles, I had problems with the top case cracking at the edges, which turned out to be a more-or-less known issue, in my opinion resulting partly from the design of the product.  I taped the edges until I could get back to an Apple retail store (again, near my parents' house).  brand new top case, including keyboard and trackpad, 20 minutes, no cost - and they even cleaned the sticky stuff from the tape off.  A third-party service provider charges $225 for this repair.

Which brings us to number three!

A few days ago, I noticed that the insulation on the cord from my AC adapter to the laptop had developed a crack or hole near where it comes out of the AC adapter, and the white-grey plastic was yellowed or browned around the hole (due to the current, I guess).  This sort of problem isn't uncommon after a couple years in AC adapters where cords are frequently wound and unwound as a result of travel, and I've seen plenty of mention of various brands' adapters or cords sparking, "melting," or even catching fire.  So it wasn't exactly a huge surprise for the cord to wear out after 2 years and 244,000 miles.

Anyway, I called Apple this morning (toll-free) and in about 10 minutes, arranged for them to send me a free replacement adapter (FedEx overnight, but since it's Friday it'll get to me Monday).  I'll pack my current one in the same packaging and send it back (there's a prepaid DHL return label under the FedEx one) for forensics.  If I had bought a new adapter, it'd have been about $79.

So if you're keeping track, my $249-or-less extended warranty has, in just over 2 years of a 3-year warranty period, gotten me $300+ of repairs or replacement parts.  (You don't even have to count the wireless card, since it was within the first year, when the base warranty applies.)

I hope nothing else goes wrong in the remaining 11.5 months of warranty coverage, but if it does, I'm sure I'll be taken care of.

And while I wait for the new adapter to arrive, my boss is letting me borrow his spare - yes, if work pays for your laptop, you typically get two adapters and two batteries!  I may think about investing in a second one myself, one of these days.

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