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.