Don't Call Apple About Your Expanding MacBook Battery Unless It Explodes

The necessary but easily interchangeable pieces of a laptop, such as the power cord and any removable batteries, usually aren’t covered under the laptop’s warranty. When those items wear out or break in the course of normal use, you’re expected to replace them. When the 1.5-year-old battery to Tommy’s 6-year-old Macbook Pro overheated and began to expand, Apple representatives were sympathetic, but unable to replace the battery since, well, batteries are only supposed to last for a year or so.

My well loved and well used 17-inch MacBook Pro is nearing its sixth year in my use. I’ve replaced it’s battery before and had no problems. My most recent battery overheated and expanded last night. I called apple support, thinking this would be a no-issue and that an expanding, one-and-a-half year old battery would be immediately earmarked as defective and replaced.

Boy was I wrong.

First, nobody seemed to know what to do with me or who I should talk to. Second, while they Apple Customer Representative could look up the age of my computer by the serial number, they had no way of tracking (and “proving the age”) of my battery by its unique serial number. Third, while nearly everybody I talked to seemed to show much concern over this safety issue, the “Senior Customer Representative” who finally spoke to me was quite apathetic about my battery problem. According to him, this issue is normal and the result of wear-and-tear on the battery and, more importantly, this was Apple’s official position.

He did reassure me that, had the battery caused any damage to my computer or personal injury, he’d be willing to discuss that. So, basically, I would have been better off leaving the defective battery in my computer instead of being smart and removing it.

After two frustrating hours on the phone, I was left with nothing but empty promises, a headache, and an “official position” on expanding batteries.

So take cover everybody, Apple’s “official position” is that their batteries WILL expand and destroy your computer. Especially after they outlive their (and I quote) “optimistic, one year lifespan.”

Ah, but being smart and being safe provide their own rewards.

If Tommy has an Apple store within a reasonable travel distance, they may have more leeway to replace the battery–and may be more sympathetic if they can see the battery. Perhaps it’s time to escalate this situation in the hope of a one-sentence e-mail from Steve Jobs–or time to buy a new battery.