Apple: Barely Perceptible Cosmetic Dent Invalidates Your Warranty

Hannah bought a refurbished Mac. 9 months later the hard drive died, so Hannah brought her Mac to the Apple Store to have the disk repaired under Apple’s 1 year warranty. That’s where things went wrong:

I take it to the Apple store in Soho where they tell me that the warranty is voided by a cosmetic dent that I can’t even see until the “Genius” points it out. A cosmetic dent that is nowhere near where the hard drive is housed. A cosmetic dent that I am sure was probably there when I got it cause I don’t take my laptop anywhere and I haven’t dropped it. Still, according to Apple, I’m shit out of luck and ineligible to purchase Apple Care. I ask if I had purchased AppleCare would this have voided that warranty as well, the genius says yes. My new hard drive is going to cost me $600 dollars through Apple.

Hannah continues:

I go to Tekserve. It’s 399. I get it fixed there.

Last week, the ac adapter sparks and dies. I buy a MacAlly replacement for $34.99 after reading the pages and pages of complaints about the original adapter on the apple site. Apparently, this happens frequently.

So far, my Mac has cost me: $433.99 AND it’s not even a year old. I could understand if I was chucking the thing around like the Sampsonite gorilla, but damn. I guess I should be grateful, because if I had purchased AppleCare at the time of purchase I would be out $683.00 which is almost half of what the computer cost me refurbished.

We asked Hannah for a picture of the dent, which she provided, adding:

I don’t have any problems using that port or any adjacent ports and I fail to see how this dent is connected to the failing of the 9 month old hard drive. I’d like to add this is a dent I didn’t know was there because:

a). the computer worked perfectly until the hard drive died
b) it’s not a dent that’s readily visible unless you close the computer or turn it on its side.

When I suggested to the Genius that it might have come that way since it was refurbished, I was told that was unlikely because Apple refurbishes to factory standard. This laptop lives in my house. It’s only been out of the house twice- to the Mac Store and then to Tekserve.

We have to admit it took us a few minutes of staring at Hannah’s photo to even notice there was a “dent” in the computer. Had she not already paid to have the computer fixed by another vendor, we would have suggested she escalate this issue with Apple. We bet someone would have overridden this particular “genius,” and he might not have cost Hannah over $400 bucks. —MEGHANN MARCO

Comments

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  1. rekoil says:

    Interesting – I bought a refurb Macbook Pro a few weeks ago and I’ve noticed a similar “dent” (actually, a bowing out of the metal) above the latch release button in front. And I did buy an Applecare plan. Will report if I run into a similar issue.

  2. bokononist says:

    The people who work at the Genius Bars tend to be incomptent pricks. First, call AppleCare and attempt to get it taken care of over the phone. If they tell you to bring it to the Genius bar, say you are unable to, and have them send you a return box. If that doesn’t work, email sjobs@apple.com, and get escalation.

  3. Smooty says:

    I’ve learned one thing with Apple: don’t ever take ‘no’ for an answer. They’re one of the few companies that try to avoid negative PR stories like this.

    Remember, just because they’re called ‘Geniuses’ it doesn’t mean that they are. Always, always, always talk to someone higher than them.

  4. cabinaero says:

    Most of the Genius bar guys are complete asshats. I had a much much larger dent on my PowerBook G4 when I sent it in to Apple for a new hard drive. My PowerBook came back with both the hard drive and the dented case replaced.

    I’d write Steve Jobs directly — be very polite and make your case to be one of extreme disappointment. Enclose both the picture and the receipt from TekServe.

  5. XianZhuXuande says:

    A dent like that will be sufficient to void your warranty through almost any company, though this is something she may be able to take up with Apple corporate. She might not be out of luck.

    To a repair center a dent like this would imply impact damage, and for that reason they wouldn’t fix problems anywhere else on the computer. A good impact, for example, could easily damage a running hard drive. When buying used or refurbished items I would look carefully for anything of this nature, and avoid the purchase if it is discovered. Or, if the deal is great, rather than buy an extended warranty from the company, I would try to make the purchase with a card that extends the manufacturer’s warranty. If I purchased the product through a web-based service (such as Apple’s online refurbs, which should come in pristine physical condition, I would contact them immediately to arrange an exchange.

  6. HotTubber says:

    I would not have let the genius get away with it. It’s obvious that “dent” has nothing to do with a defective hard drive.

    A squeaky wheel gets the replacement hard drive. This is the time to be loud and obnoxious at the Apple Store, preferably when there are many customers around. Ask the other customers if they can see a dent.

  7. quimby10 says:

    Lately AppleCare phone support also seems to be filled with incompetent pricks. I had the exact same problem (frayed wires and sparking) on my under-warranty MacBook that was clearly caused because the casing is not adequately resistant to normal wear.

    The phone support rep aggressvely quizzed me about my lifestyle, and then finally informed me that the obvious cause of the problem was my cats. Um, no. I do not allow my cats to chew on the wire, mostly because electricuted kitty smell is hard to get out of the apartment. But because my home includes pets the replacement wasn’t covered.

    I’ll add that I had a similar problem about 4 years ago with the adapter on my old PowerBook, and theAppleCare rep quickly acknowledged that the problem was common as the casing was weak and immediately mailed me a free replacement.

  8. VA_White says:

    How is this the same Apple that replaced my $800 processor for free after I dropped a liter of Diet Dr Pepper on my keyboard? How?

    Your Genius must just be a real dick.

  9. It’s obvious that “dent” has nothing to do with a defective hard drive.

    That’s not obvious at all, though. As XianZhuXuande correctly notes, the dent suggests impact which could easily transmit crippling damage to the sensitive components of a hard drive. More than that, the metal enclosures used for PowerBooks and MacBooks Pro are incredibly tough. It would take a significant and sharp impact to create even that little dimple.

    (And if you want proof, just look at this photo of a MacBook Pro taking a bullet. The latching mechanism is a bit mangled, but the enclosure stops the bullet before it can harm the logic board.)

    I think it would serve Apple well to nonetheless honor the warranty, but it would very much be a matter of generosity for them to do so.

  10. Rajio says:

    Thats why people like open architecture personal computers.

  11. csmcdonald says:

    Apple seems to have a policy to do this. Last year my 5g iPod was freezing after playing about 10 songs. I tried the recommended software updates, reformatting the iPod, restoring to an earlier update, nothing worked. I requested warranty repair and was sent a box to ship it back to Apple in.

    Apple denied the warranty repair due to abuse of the device, dents on the back. I called them, they offered to fix it for $250, I declined and requested it to be shipped back.

    I had to call two weeks later to again state that I wanted it shipped back, they were still holding it waiting for me to pay $250.

    When I finally received my iPod back, I showed it to my coworkers. None of them were able to find the ‘dents’ that denied my warranty claim. We finally found a small dimple on the back that could not have caused any internal damage.

    Fortunately the 1.2 software update resolved the issue, so I got lucky in this case.

    I’m not impressed with Apple’s supposed superior customer service however. This was within the 1 year warranty, and I also had AppleCare for this iPod.

  12. mrosedal says:

    $600 is way to high to fix that hd going bad. Macs are not the easiest things to fix, but you can get at that HD and replace it yourself for more like $100…and that is just for the part. Honestly a tech who knows what he is doing would have your laptop fixed in less than 10 minutes. And reloading the OS would add another half an hour maybe an hour.

    At $600 I would say try fixing it yourself or look into getting a new machine. That is just way to steep.

  13. specialed5000 says:

    @Rajio: What does that have to do with how Apple or any other company interprets or enforces terms of a warranty?

  14. hubris says:

    @Danilo Campos:

    Since a couple versions of Powerbooks ago, they’ve come with hard drives that sense a fall or any kind of jarring, and will stop the heads from spinning. So unless someone nailed it from the side with something, the hard drive would have most likely stopped spinning and not died because of the impact.

    Also, it does *not* take a lot of impact to dent a Powerbook, regardless of the one taking the bullet picture. I had a G4 Powerbook that had a number of dents and I never dropped it. I think I pushed a book against it once, not hard, and it dented.

    @Rajilo: One can change the hard drive in the Macbooks and Macbook Pros with very little difficulty. I understand why people are reluctant to do it, but it’s a few screws and you’re good to go.

  15. quagmire0 says:

    No matter what the case, this is a seriously slip by an Apple service tech. I’m not an Apple customer, but usually all I hear from people is how great their support is. It’s basically their bread and butter – since most of what I hear about their technology is negative. It would serve them well to give their service people a refresher course on customer service.

  16. backslider says:

    My MacBook recently crapped out well within the frame of the original warranty. I brought it to the Genius bar. On opening up the machine, the Genius claimed to see evidence of “liquid damage.” He then pointed at something, which I could not see, and described it as “discolored.”

    I mustered my best Clint Eastwood immitation and said in a very low, calm, but hopefully tough-sounding voice, “I am going to be very upset if you guys pull that scam on me.”

    Viola!They honored the warranty.

    For the record, my computer has never even been near liquid.

  17. axiomatic says:

    If thats a dent, ALL of my laptops (4 of them) are void. What are we supposed to use these things with velvet gloves on? My watch band could make a dent like that.

    Dumb.

  18. major disaster says:

    For whatever this is worth, my PowerBook hard drive died about a year and a half ago. It had some pretty serious dents, as well as a lot of scratches from my metal watch (yeah, I’m not the most careful person). While it was no longer under warranty, they did ask me if it was, and looked up the serial number to make sure, which seemed to imply to me that they would have taken care of it had it been. Could have been all for show, of course, but I don’t think it was.

  19. Baz says:

    I have found it to be well worth the trouble to take the time to learn how to replace a laptop hard drive yourself – no need to pay Apple or Tekserve. I have absolutely zero computer repair experience (best thing I have done is install a car CD player) but I allowed enough time, downloaded detailed instructions and performed the installation myself. This was on a 5 year old Powerbook and the new drive has been kicking ass in my machine for 9 months now.

    Plus, the money I saved on the install (and the OEM purchase of the drive online) allowed me to get a 150 GB drive in my old 75mHz Powerbook. People call my computer the Terminator.

  20. ValkRaider says:

    This is uncharicteristic of Apple. I had a PowerBook that was just a month or two shy of it’s 3 years in AppleCare and my hard drive failed.

    They replaced it no questions asked. I had a noticable dent in the frame near the DVI connector, much more obvious from this one pictured here. Other than that there was no markings on the computer – I take really good care. But I travel for work, and my laptops are carried all over the place – on motorcycles, in planes, around offices and then at home too… They will get reasonable wear and tear.

    The laptops in hard drives are engineered to handle a lot of Gs – even when active. And like another poster mentioned, the new ones have the sudden motion sensor which park the heads. It is very hard to actually damage a laptop hard drive in the current Apple laptops without doing serious damage to the case, and this dent is not that type of damage.

    Talk to someone else. I have never had any problem with AppleCare. But I also have to say that I have never had any problems with DELL warranty support at work, either…

    :)

  21. colflesh says:

    I have a 12″ G4 Powerbook that I’ve had since May 2005. I have to agree with omerhi that the aluminum Powerbooks do tend to dent easily. Personally, I baby my computer and make sure to give it tender loving care. However, I let my girlfriend borrow for a presenation she had to give. In the course of a few hours, my pretty, pretty Powerbook somehow managed to get a dent (pretty sizeable and noticeable by the naked eye) along the side where the ports are located.

    Last fall, the hard drive on the aforementioned computer decided to give up the ghost. I took it to the Genius Bar at the Apple store in downtown Chicago. I had no problems dealing with the employee working on my case, although some of the other employees there seemed to be on a “holier than thou” pedistal. The genius verified I needed a new hard drive, looked over the case and didn’t give me an hassle, not even a dirty look regarding the dent. I received it 2 days later with a new hard drive and they installed a new keyboard. However, unlike cabinaero, I didn’t get a new case.

  22. macdude22 says:

    Find a third party reseller. They rock. While going to an apple retail store it is in their best interest to limit any thing that might cost the company. A.K.A. warranty work. Your Apple Value Added Reseller with an Apple Tech is more than happy to take that business because Apple pays them for warranty work. I take all my warranty work for my Apple products to an Apple Authorized Service Provider, even though I have an Apple Store closer. Go to the following link to find the one closest to you. As always YMMV, but I’ve found the 3rd party Apple Authorized Service Providers to be top notch when it comes to warranty work.

    http://www.apple.com/buy/locator/service.html

  23. Buran says:

    Unless it can be proven that this “dent” is related to the cause of the failure, it is illegal for the warranty to be voided, as per the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

    Your next words need to be “Let me speak to your supervisor” and keep climbing the ladder until you get what you want.

    It was abuse like this that led to the MMWA being passed in the first place.

    They are counting on you not knowing the law.

  24. kenposan says:

    Applecare=Geek Squad?

  25. zentec says:

    This isn’t just an issue with Apple and has nothing to do with “open architecture”. I’ve had a Sony Vaio laptop that had bad pixels and the Sony rep steadfastly refused to take it back because “one or two” was considered acceptable. I had many more than just that. As a Buran has said, you need to start climbing the ladder of supervisors and know your rights as given to you in the warranty as well as the states that apply to your locale.

    Sony eventually replaced my computer, but that version of the Vaio had a motherboard problem and it eventually went back. Truth of the matter is that there’s mortality among all consumer electronics.

    I don’t buy for a moment that a dent in that location that is that small had anything to do with a failing hard drive. It is truly a stretch to come to the conclusion that dent constitutes abuse or accident, and that’s pretty much what is required to void the Apple warranty.

  26. jknode says:

    When I had a problem with my iBook last year my boyfriend took it into their Soho store, where they pulled the “water damage” card with him, too. It was dusty in there, but I couldn’t see any water damage. I took it to their 5th ave store and they repaired it under warranty, no problem.

  27. superlayne says:

    I’m getting a laptop soon. So I guess Macbooks are off the list of possibilities.

  28. zentec says:

    @superlayne:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I’ve had crappy support with all the major electronics providers so shop with confidence anywhere but Best Buy.

  29. j_dot says:

    Apple care is definitely one of those things that is not a scam–I can’t tell you how many times I’ve destroyed a laptop and had it replaced free of charge (actually I can, 3). That is well worth the $200 or whatever they charge for it, in my opinion.

    But I agree with other posters, calling Apple is the way to go. My brother works at the new store on 5th avenue and he always advises against going to the Genius bar since they tend to be somewhat elitist jerks who may not always know what they’re doing. Just a tip from an apple employee I wanted to share!

  30. LAGirl says:

    i went through some similar b.s. last year with my iBook. my AC adapter stopped working. when i took it to the ‘Genius’ bar at the Grove in LA, they told me it was due to ‘customer damage’, so it wouldn’t be covered by AppleCare. i said that was ridiculous, since i take very good care of my laptop – no dropping, no cats chewing wires, etc.

    when i asked for a supervisor to escalate, he refused and told me his word was the last word. i really needed my laptop and i was tired of running around in circles with the asshat, so i paid the $200 for replacing the adapter port + a new AC adapter.

    when i later called the 800 number (which is VERY hard to find on the Apple website, by the way) to find out why it wasn’t covered, the rep i talked to was surprised that they’d refused to cover it. they told me that they would have replaced it under warranty and i should have just sent it to them.

    since then, i’ve heard a lot of complaints about this particular Apple Store ‘Genius’ Bar.

  31. Chongo says:

    Try to bring it in again… I brought in a iBook that was dropped twice with OBVIOUS drop damage and they still covered it. Apprantly the drop broken the wire attenea for the Airport card.

    I have a feeling this is a case of an over zealous “genius”.

  32. Lula Mae Broadway says:

    $600 for a new hard drive? I just bought a 160 GB hard drive for my Macbook pro via http://www.newegg.com (I think it was them) for about $120 bucks. The tech guy @ work installed it for me, so i don’t know what a fair labor charge would be – but there are less expensive drives out there.

    And I agree with previous poster – take it somewhere else & try another “genius”

  33. esthermofet says:

    I, too, have had issues with the so-called Genius staff.

    I bought my first-gen MacBook Pro March, 2006. When I got the factory-sealed box home and opened, I noticed that the palmrest on the left side was slightly bowed. I wasn’t too worried about it, because everything was working fine.

    A few hours later, after I had opened & closed the lid a half-dozen times, the the left hinge spring stopped working. I took it back to the Apple store the following day to see what could be done. The genius at the counter quickly reported, “You dropped it.” I assured him that I hadn’t but he went on to say, “Macs are truth-machines and can spot a lying customer.”

    I guess he was absent the day that they taught the concepts of “customer service” and “mechanical failure” at Genius School.

    I can deal with the fact that the hinge was never fixed–overall my Mac still works fine. The good news is that they ultimately found out the little troglodyte’s attitude sucked and replaced him with somebody better.

  34. cuttriss says:

    I have a similar experience with my Macbook Pro. I bought it in March 2006, and around May of that year I noticed a slight bowing on the side of the case near the ExpressCard slot. I never brought it in because it never actually caused a problem (apart from the ‘normal’ first gen MBP problems).

    This gives me pause, however, if I had brought it in would the bending have invalidated my warranty due to supposed heat exposure? (As if I couldn’t already fry an egg on my MBP under full load!)

  35. Hallik09 says:

    This is why I hate the SoHo Apple store. She should have went to the 5th Avenue shop. Back when I bought my 17 inch MacBook Pro, I had heat issues, the laptop got so hot that it caused deformation of the plastic case and made the battery bloat. After receiving bullshit from the supervisor in the SoHo store, and this heavy set dude with glasses, that they found no evidence to support the claim that heat caused deformation, even though they tested it for 20 minutes, I took my laptop to 5th Avenue, and they gave me a full refund on the thing. Then I bought a Dell with accidental protection, so I can drop it down a flight of stairs, and still be covered. GG Apple.

  36. emax4 says:

    Aside from the whole issue of AppleCare and the Genuis bar name-calling, you should be able to hook-up an external FireWire drive and boot from that.

  37. mathew says:

    Given that the cost of the hard drive is $75 or less, and the resulting upgraded machine is not under Apple warranty, even $400 is daylight robbery.

  38. Hackoff says:

    Call Apple Corporate. Ask to speak to Jeanne Tolouse or her replacement. You should get a call from Corporate Customer Relations within a few days.

    Hoepfully this will be taken care of for you. You might also want to mention that you have sent a letter to http://www.consumerist.com and that they are waiting to see what happens.

    Good luck!

  39. jaywar says:

    This may have already been pointed out, but if your warranty is already voided, then have it repaired by a local computer repair shop and NOT apple. I had a new hard drive installed (and an attempt at recovery) for under $500.00 (on a ti-book). And I agree, go after apple, call them, be polite but firm, take notes about who you talked to and when and push it until you’re sure you can’t get anywhere.

  40. crackblind says:

    All Apple users in NYC should know about Tekserve on 23rd St. & 6th Ave. (No I’m not a shill, just been going there for years). They should be your first line for repairs as they are an authorized ewarranty repair center. They rule and would have handled this as a warranty issue in the first place, I am sure (supposition based on the incredible service I’ve gotten there).

    Unfortunately, your laptop was probably flagged in the system from your visit to the Apple store.

    In general, you should always look for an authorized Apple sales & repair center in your area. They tend to care and be a hell of a lot more competent that the so called “Geniuses” at the Apple store.

  41. spidra says:

    @rekoil: Apple Customer Service has been appallingly bad in my most recent experiences. And staggeringly unapologetic about it. Even at the Senior VP level it was all about stopping the negative publicity by asking photos to be deleted and posts retracted rather than ACTUALLY SOLVING THE PROBLEM. Horrid. I’m a lifelong Mac fan and it’s sad to see what they’ve done to themselves.

    My refurb Macbook Pro had that latch bump, too. It’s actually really common. My saga begins here, continues here, and is illustrated by a buttload of photographic doc….

  42. bokononist says:

    I’ve owned 2 PowerBooks and 2 MacBook Pros. All of them shipped with cosmetic defects. On the one I’m using right now, the top case (which has the keyboard in it) is loose on the right. It shipped that way. My prior MacBook Pro (which I had repaired 3x) had a slight expansion outward on the left side of the case. One of the PowerBooks I owned had a very pronounced dent above the DVI port.

    I was not responsible for *any* of these problems. I baby my laptop because I rely on it, it’s expensive and contains data I don’t want to lose. I have a great, sturdy case for it, and I’ve never, ever, ever dropped it.

    However, every time I’ve brought my Macs to the so-called ‘Genius’ Bar, they spend more time looking for dents in my Macs than actually taking care of me. Once I was told that it was to ‘protect’ me in case the repair depot damaged it. Bullshit. They were looking for an out. Once, the ‘Genius’ spotted an ever-so-small, 1-2mm indentation on the case near the Apple logo. It obviously shipped that way–and if I brought the computer to Apple to complain about that dent, they’d tell me the warranty doesn’t cover cosmetic imperfections, and that the computer is in spec.

    I’m not sure why Apple has such a great reputation for customer service. I suspect the other vendors might be worse. (However, I know from experience that Lenovo/IBM is actually really great.)

  43. LLH says:

    my husband is an authorized mac tech here in LA. and while he wouldn’t recommend taking it to the apple stores for repair (the wait being the main reason, price being next) he’s got mates that ‘do’ work in the stores – not in the genuis bar – them being only one rung above ‘sales person’. let’s just say these guys help each other out so everyone is happy. and 600 bucks to replace a hard drive?? i think someone may have been high on serious drugs when he gave you that quote.

  44. MauriceReeves says:

    Last year I went to the King of Prussia Apple Store because my iPod headphones were broken. Less than a year old, and there was no sound coming out of the left earbud and the right earbud was coming apart.

    When I showed the headphones to the guys at the Genius Bar, one of them said “I’m not fixing that. You stepped on it.” and motioned for the next person.

    I was floored by their attitude, so I went to the manager and raised hell. Eventually I got the headphones replaced.

    Needless to say, I don’t go back to the Genius Bar anymore.

  45. oldhat says:

    I’m looking to buy a couple Macbook Pro’s…sort of a PC to Mac switch deal…but this makes me think I should stick with Dell.

    In fact, from experience, Dell never pulled this crap on me. Lots of other crap, sure, but not this bad. Dell of course has the accident protection option, about $25/year extra on top of the normal extended warranty, totaling about $115/year.

    Apple sales is booming…maybe they can’t keep up cult-worthy service with such a larger customer base?

  46. what about the fact that your apple is covered, apparently in a gross mold, and the trim is all pried off of it near the mag safe?

    it sure looks like you dropped it to me.

  47. alaskamiller2 says:

    Um.. yeah, it’s on the left side, that’s where the hard drive is. The “dent” is on the edge where it looks like the top-case of the MacBook Pro has been propped open. The “dent” looks to be the results of either 1. someone tried to pry open the laptop or 2. it got dropped. I would have refused service too.

  48. Falconfire says:

    Dont listen to these Soho punks. Take it in to Apple themselves (via mail in to their repair site)

    I have had broken screens not void Applecare.

    I really dont know who Apple is hiring for these places, they are in no way trained like the geniuses of old.

  49. Newberry09 says:

    It’s been pretty interesting dealing with the Mac Geniuses at the Fifth Avenue store. Though a lot of them are arrogant pricks, there are some that really do try to help you out. One simply has to drop by the Genius Bar at the right time and be lucky enough to get a genius that won’t pull out the “dent card.”

    Once time, I went to the store around 11 p.m. to get my Powerbook’s failing hard drive fixed and left at 3 a.m. (you gotta love the 24/7/365 store hours at 5th ave. ) I had two genius. The first guy didn’t bother me about the dent I had at the corner where the battery is. The second guy lectured me and told me oh so arrogantly that he shouldn’t replace my hard drive because of the dent. But since the battery is nowhere near the hard drive I was able to argue him into getting it fixed.

    Remember, if you fail with one genius, it doesn’t hurt to go back and talk with another genuis, because chances are you’ll get one that’ll cut you some slack.

    Another point very important from previous experience: if they can’t fix the problem and have to send your computer out for repair, the Mac Genuis will ALWAYS ask you if you dropped your computer or spilled water on it. I’ve always been smart enough not to fall for it, but be aware of this.

    This may be speculation, but I bet these Geniuses have some type of quota where they’ll get in trouble if they send out too many items out for repair. Considering how skittish they get sometimes about repairing and servicing things with minor cosmetic damage, I wouldn’t be surprised.

  50. Vinny says:

    @crackblind: Feh. They overcharge quite a bit and are always “pitching” something better than what you’re buying.

  51. Vinny says:

    I find it odd that she had this “dent” issue, then her power supply suddenly died a spectacular death, and she’s saying it never went out of her house.

    Truth is, everyone who buys a Mac needs to get AppleCare from minute 1. Period. No questions asked. If she had AppleCare, despite what the “genius” said, they would’ve bent over backwards to help her work out the situation. It’s just the way it is. When you’re spending $1500 or more on a laptop, don’t be penny-wise and pound foolish.

    I’d still try to escalate this, btw. She has photographic proof that the “dent” exists and it’s way too small to be an impact dent. Call Apple. Don’t take no for an answer.

    Then buy AppleCare.

  52. The Big O says:

    Um, 600 bucks? I bought a new hard drive for my Macbook for under 150 and it’s 120 gigs.

    You need to buy your HD from somewhere else.

    That’s dumb policy by Apple though.

    Don’t give up, or go to another Apple story if one is nearby.

  53. Syd says:

    I used to play World of Warcraft on my Powerbook and from doing so wore off some of the finish from the area just to the left and right of the trackpad where my wrists rested. I suppose I just sweated too much from the overheating laptop and the paint couldn’t hold up.

    Anyhow, I brought the Powerbook to the Geniuses in Arlington, VA when my hard drive started acting up – about a year after purchase. Because of the worn finish they deduced that the hard drive failure was from abnormal wear and tear. They wouldn’t repair the drive for me for less than $900. I took it home and put it out of its misery.

    Much love to the Apple Store in Oak Brook, IL though. Those guys know what customer service is about.

  54. olegna says:

    $600 for a new Laptop HD?? WTF? Guess I’m not buying a Mac laptop . . . ever.

  55. puka_pai says:

    When I suggested to the Genius that it might have come that way since it was refurbished, I was told that was unlikely because Apple refurbishes to factory standard.

    After reading spidra’s story and the ones linked to it, I’d have to say that “factory standard” seems to be a pretty flexible term.

  56. ElizabethD says:

    That’s what happened with my teenage son’s iPod. It quit working after a few months, so he took it to the Apple store, and they wouldn’t honor the warranty because of a nearly microscopic ding on the surface. They didn’t even open it; just claimed he must have dropped it or slammed it on something, so the warranty was voided. You could barely see the teeny scratch! The kid had laboriously saved up his dog-walking money to buy a $300 iPod. He has been without one for half a year now. Hard lesson to learn at age 14.
    Yet… we are still an Apple/Mac family. :-)

  57. 302079 says:

    A few years ago, the hinge for the display on my old Powerbook gave out. It had always been a little funky, and one day I heard a snap and the spring or whatever lost all tension. It just flopped around on the hinge. So I took it to the Apple Store. The machine was a few years old, and had seen heavy use, and while it still worked perfectly, it had a fair amount of cosmetic damage, dents and sctarches and things of that sort. But they didn’t say anything. They just shipped it off to the repair center and it came back a couple days later with the entire display replaced.

    I get the sense that service at the Genius Bars varies a great deal. Some of them are knowledgable and helpful and some are utter fuckwits.

  58. quiksilver says:

    As working for Apple corporate, having a cosmetic dent, scratch, or whatever on your laptop or iPod won’t affect the warranty, UNLESS it was a great deal of damage caused by the user itself… this isn’t the case (along with the many comments). It’s very sad to hear about this.

    If this were to happen again, either:
    A. Ask for the store manager
    B. Try a different Apple store (if there is one nearby)
    C. Request service from http://depot.info.apple.com/

    If they give an excuse then escalate the problem.

    Best thing to do, buy AppleCare. You can buy it up to the last day of the original warranty.

    If you just have the original warranty, you should STILL receive great support, regardless.

  59. ddhj says:

    I would like to point out a couple of things.
    A lot of apple stores send their portable computers out to a repair center to get it repaired. not all of them are done in-store. that’s where the $600 quote comes in. they need to quote what the repair center will agree to do. that is a tier 2 flat rate which fixes anything that went wrong with the unit through “accidental damage,” including bottom case. so saying that it costs $600 for a HD replacement isn’t exactly correct. now, Hannah’s point is that the dent is not really noticeable. when i saw the picture, the first thing i noticed is the giant gap between her bottom case and top case on the left side of the picture. that kind of gap is VERY consistent with the kind of damage i see from people dropping their computer/someone knocking into it while it’s in its case. As far as the geniuses go, they could have done the hd replacement in store, and i think they should have. all the complaints about the geniuses and incompetence only comes along when someone doesn’t get their way. i wonder why.

  60. Amy Alkon says:

    Applecare has saved my ass numerous times. (I bought my first Apple computer in spring of 1985 on a University of Michigan discount. It’s in Rome with friends — and still working.) If somebody ever gives you shit — as somebody above said — escalate it.

  61. Topcat says:

    While I haven’t owned Mac hardware since they shipped OS X, I can say with some experience that the Genius bar is not what it used to be, and the iPod is directly to fault. The majority of problems people bring in are with their iPod, and thus the extent of work a Genius has to be capable of is to hand them a new box. When it comes to troubleshooting hardware or providing real customer service, they’re completely lost. Escalate if you’re still in warranty, or take it to an authorized tech who doesn’t get bricked iPods 8 hours a day.

  62. ct03 says:

    I second Chongo; I dropped my MacBook Pro two weeks ago and killed the hard drive. Even though the entire computer was bent, they repaired the hard drive at no charge and actually straightened the casing out a little bit. They also fixed my iBook a few years ago after my friend dumped a glass of wine in it. I called Apple Care before bringing it in both times; maybe having an open case and a case number before you go in is the trick.

  63. bonahstabone says:

    That dent is hardly what I would call imperceptible…I can clearly see it bowing out by the network connection and depressed in by the headphone connection. I speculate it was in a bag or soft container and was slammed or dropped against the corner of an opening or an entryway to a room, table, or some solid static object.

    I’ve owned 2 powerbooks and now the macbook pro…both machines feature a very durable metal enclosure which simply doesn’t dent like that unless a significant force or impact takes place. Now i’m well aware of the warping from poor heat management in the earlier powerbooks, I suffered the same issue…This dent is not warping. It’s a dent caused by an external opposite force, and how one could not notice something like upon opening the box that is beyond imagination.

    I’d try to find out if your homeowner’s insurance policy might cover it depending on your deductible.

  64. twstinkers says:

    Apple does make products with a definite “wow” factor (at first). But once the device is about a year old or so, you start to run into major problems. I have had ipods and ibooks and neither one has lasted more than three years. And I am very loving and careful with my electronics. They just stop working at some point and it costs $$$ for even minor repairs. Thus, I am a little torn regarding my customer loyalty to Mac. Their quality control leaves a lot to be desired.

  65. Frankly, I don’t think she’s going to get Apple to give her money back. One of the single toughest things to get any company to do is to cut a check for something you say they should have fixed in the first place, but then hired someone else to fix anyway.

    She buckled like a belt rather than escalating the decision; if she’d had Apple do the work and then appealed, she’d have a better case, but there’s almost no way Apple will cut her a check for TekServe’s work.

    Always appear first. Don’t pay until you’ve gotten a ‘no’ from the highest higher-ups you can possibly talk to. She’s let a ‘Genius’ in a bad mood talk her into spending money with a third party, and Apple simply isn’t going to start writing checks to people who didn’t bother to use the escalation avenues that were clearly available.

  66. Papa K says:

    First off, it’s Genius Bar = Geeksquad. Not Applecare.

    Secondly – I love the slew of people saying how “there is no way that could cause HDD damage.” All I have to say is – prove it.

    Having an open case prior menas they have an unresolved case – if the genius bar trys to ignore it, they have documented proof of their incompetency. Good going.

    Lastly – learning to fix it yourself is a priceless, easy skill.

  67. vkxmai says:

    I called Applecare last week and asked about the expected battery life for an early MBP. I explained that I’d followed the monthly-calibration recommendations, etc for proper use of the battery, including not using unpowered USB devices (except Flashdrives) when on battery power. The rep. offered to replace the battery immediately, after a few brief questions from the About This Apple menu.

    I always call Applecare first before going to the Cleveland store. As much as I love Apple retail stores, I somehow feel better waiting in a phone queue than I do listening to various youths complain about their iPods and talk loudly on mobiles while waiting for the Genius Bar.

  68. nickjs1984 says:

    This is actually the exact same issue I had with my MacBook Pro just recently. The hard disk died after only 9 months of use (the 7200 rpm upgrade, no less) and Apple refused to fix it because they had found that it was “damaged due to unusual pressure” on the opposite side of the case. I had sent it in a few weeks prior to the hard disk’s death because my right fan was randomly clicking and this is when I found out about the “pressure damage.” Also, Apple had not even opened the case but somehow surmised that my SuperDrive and logic board would have to be replaced and the cost would be $1200. I was able to talk them down to $600 before I decided to just live with the fan. When the hard drive crapped out a few days later, I decided to buy the Torx screwdriver needed to open the case and replace it myself. I’m completely and totally fed up with Apple’s attitude towards its customers of late…it may be fine for new users, but those of us that remember being treated like boutique clients are really not enjoying the successful new Apple (sans Computer.)

  69. pstauff says:

    I recommend upgrading your hard drive on your own. You can buy a good quality hard drive from NewEgg. You can pick up a 120 GB SATA laptop at NewEgg or Buy.com for $85. This will likely be larger than the one that came with your MacBook Pro. After a few months, I upgraded my hard drive on my MacBook on my own.

    Apple has a guide to assist you.
    http://manuals.info.apple.com/en/MacBook_13inch_HardDrive_

  70. medalian1 says:

    600 for a new hard drive is insane

  71. SpyMaster says:

    If you’re seriously considering paying them $600 to put in a new drive for you, I invite you over to my house right now!
    I’ll install a new drive for you, while at the same time showing you this interesting bridge I have for sale.

  72. silverlining says:

    @esthermofet: “I assured him that I hadn’t but he went on to say, “Macs are truth-machines and can spot a lying customer.”

    ROFL. Seriously? He SAID that???

    So, how good are the machines at spotting a lying ‘genius’? ;)

  73. silverlining says:

    @Papa K: “Lastly – learning to fix it yourself is a priceless, easy skill.”

    How do you figure? Doesn’t seem easy unless one has experience with hardware (and even then, not the easiest thing in the world.) And not priceless if you break it and have no one to blame but yourself. And then you get to explain THAT to the jerks that refused service in the first place.

  74. lakai says:

    I just took a look at my macbook pro that I purchased about a year ago and noticed something similar. I have never gotten my laptop serviced or anything but in the area where the magsafe connector is located there is about a 1mm gap, but still not as extreme as that picture is.

  75. StvYzerman says:

    I had a similar experience trying to get a macbook fixed. It was slowing down and crashed pretty often, and had already been sent back for 3 other unrelated problems. We sent it in again under the protection plan, and received an email shortly thereafter that they refused to fix it since it had damage to the outer casing. Truth be told, it did have damage to the outer casing. The damn thing is aluminum and takes a beating even in a padded laptop case. All laptops get bumped- but only one with a metal casing will show how much abuse its taken.

    Now, it just so happens that a close friend of mine is a recent graduate of Yale Law School and just loves arguing legal technicalities with unknowledgeable staff over at Apple. If you dissect the wording of the warranty, Apple is excluded from paying for any damage that is caused by the user directly that is not part of normal use. Their problem though is proving that any damage internally is a result of anything showing externally on the casing. I wasn’t asking for them to fix the casing. I was asking for them to fix whatever was wrong on the inside.

    So the casing is dented you say? OK, so don’t fix the casing. Fix the inside. But, Apple was quick to retort, the inside is damaged because the machine was obviously mishandled! Ah, but that burden of proof doesn’t lay with me- it falls on THEM. There is no way at all that they can prove that the damage on the inside is a direct consequence to anything showing on the outside. (This applies in my case. I don’t recommend smashing your computer with a hammer and then telling them to fix it. If the broken internal component lies directly beneath a dent to the outer casing, you may be out of luck.)

    I imagine that Apple techs have been trained to first examine the outer casing for any dents whatsoever and then to deny any repairs on this grounds. Don’t let them get away with this!! Fight those bastards and get them to honor their lousy warranty!

    In the end, Apple fixed the internal components and actually replaced the outer casing! Perhaps the threat of a lawsuit changed their tune. Too bad the thing still runs like a piece of crap.

  76. jrsyman says:

    LittleJoe says:


    what about the fact that your apple is covered, apparently in a gross mold, and the trim is all pried off of it near the mag safe?

    it sure looks like you dropped it to me.

    Actually that’s a firewire port…

    The ‘mold’ on the other hand looks similar to the dust my PowerBook seems to attract and accumulate through daily usage.

  77. ddhj says:

    wow.
    lots of people are pissed about their beat up aluminum computers.
    i doubt anyone at apple is trained on how to decline a repair. what is probably going on is that they are protecting themselves from customers who will argue that the damage happened while it was in the hands of apple. from what i understand, they are also supposed to put everything back within specifications, meaning that if they check in a computer with dents, they need to fix that as well regardless of who did it since they have been burnt way too many times by customers insisting that the unit went in to repair without a scratch. Most casing parts are not covered by applecare. that means the individual store/authorized repair center has to take on the cost of new cases which are very expensive. also, because of the way it is assembled, when a powerbook case is torqued that way, it can be really difficult to put back together and sometimes looks even worse than before. so there’s a couple more reasons why it probably didn’t seem so ridiculous to the techs when they say “no.”
    HOWEVER, internal HD’s are so easy to replace on that model, that genius should have accomodated the repair. Tekserve, as good as they are, overcharged her as well. Sounds like bad times. sorry, Hannah.