Apple Replaces Lemon Laptop As Promised

Our intern Alex’s lemony MacBook Pro finally went out with a spectacular graphical display of what it looks like when a robot’s brain dissolves. Fortunately, Apple made good on the promise they gave him last month when he asked about their replacement policy, and a new replacement MacBook Pro is on its way to him. They’re also refunding a portion of his AppleCare. Is this just typical Apple follow-through or above and beyond treatment because Alex’s story was posted on Consumerist?

Here’s Alex’s story:

I have a follow-up to my Apple replacement story from last month. Last week, my adapter melted. I called Apple, they replaced it on Sunday, and all was well for a day, then my logic board got all kinds of f@#!*d up.

And I called them back yesterday through the regular Apple Care number, they had me do basic stuff like zap the PRAM and repair disk permissions, and that would fix it for ten minutes after I hung up, then it would go back to being messed up

Two techs did that, and it didn’t fix it, so I called the corporate number just now

I got an extremely nice person named Julia. I referenced my call to corporate with Jeff last month, then she looked at my case file and recited all the failures my MBP had had (logic board, hard drive, battery, optical, logic board, hard drive, adapter).

After reading the failures to me, she immediately offered a replacement.

She even told me she’d refund a prorated portion of what I paid for AppleCare because this new one would come with a year of warranty, and my AppleCare would only last a few months after that.

She sent out a replacement, and she also gave me the option of either not sending it out till they received my unit, or giving her my credit card number so they can charge me if they don’t receive it in a certain amount of time.

Alex suggests if you have a similar problem, try calling Apple rather than going to their in-store Genius Bars, because then you can sit in front of your computer and look up helpful information (for example, on Consumerist) while you’re talking.

“Apple’s Semi-Official Computer Replacement Policy”


Edit Your Comment

  1. sleze69 says:

    This is A-typical. Companies should HAVE to do more than is required when we are forced to shame them online/through the media.

  2. xaqdesign says:

    I’d say it’s typical for apple to replace it after it’s been such a problem. I have personally never had a problem with applecare.

    I have a 3.5 year old Powerbook G4, I had the airport extreme card replaced the first month I had it because of chronic wireless drops. No questions asked.

    Over the next 2.5 years I had my power adapter replaced no questions asked, and even a mighty mouse I bought when they came out replaced no questions asked, even though I didn’t buy it w/ the laptop!

    Just before my applecare ran out, my hard drive and screen both died on me within 3 weeks of each other. Both times apple replaced the component w/o issue.

    As long as you are prepared to speak to Applecare when you call and don’t take no for an answer generally things are great!

  3. trillium says:

    I haven’t had to get any of my Apple products replaced in recent years but my first experience buying from them (the days of the Sage iMac) left me in awe of the lengths Apple would go to keep me as a happy customer (it’s paid off – I know own 5 macs and 3 iPods).

    Anyway, when the Sage iMac first came out it was easily a 4-6 week wait time for a custom build model. Ordered and waited patiently. “Big Green” arrived. Got it unpacked and plugged in and within a few hours it would freeze, dump to a reboot, and on the way up stop at the EEPROM and stall.

    Called Apple – they recommended taking it to a local repair shop (free of charge since it was under warranty and this pre-dates Apple Stores). Well we called around and shopped around, and no one would look at it for less then $150 (these were all Apple Certified “shops”).

    So we called back Apple, told them of the situation. Spent a few hours on the phone troubleshooting the issue to try and get to the exact cause. When your mac boots to a command line – there is DEFINATELY a problem.

    So Apple did this – not only did they determine that it was a faulty unit, they cross-shipped a replacement.
    A machine we had been waiting on for initial delivery for 6 weeks was replaced in a matter of 5 days.

    “Big Green” v.2 lasted a loooong time and actually traveled quite a bit (took it on vacation when visiting parents house). It’s graphics card was lost but it lasted another yr or two on an external monitor.

    Despite what I read – that experience is what turned me into an Apple person for life.

  4. mark0429 says:

    This was typical of my experience. After 2 replacement logic boards, an inverter, and a couple of fans, they agreed to replace my almost 2 year old MacBook Pro, and also refunded the remaining apple care.

    I took the option of waiting until my computer shipped before they dispatched the replacement. I dropped it off with the prepaid label on a Wednesday night, and the replacement shipped the following morning via fedex next day.

    Emailing paid off in this instance.

  5. gavers says:

    This has been my experience with Apple machines that have major failures. Unfortunately I’ve had too many. Both my 24″ iMac and MacBook have been replaced with new machines, plus a refund of the AppleCare. In both cases my model wasn’t available anymore so I they gave me the newest model at no additional cost.

  6. yesteryear says:

    i think this is typical if you go about it the right way and go through the correct channels when trying to get something fixed/replaced (i.e., not immediately emailing steve jobs).

    ive posted about this before here, but just last month apple replaced the DVD/CD drive and the logic board in my 2005 iMac G5 – about two weeks AFTER my applecare package expired. the geniuses at my local apple store were not only saints for not charging me the $900 it would have been to do the service, they actually sat down with me and also taught me how to use my new external hard drive (i finally got spooked enough by the logic board experience to buy one and start backing up for real).

    i think apple is an awesome company and i’m glad to see two positive stories about them here on consumerist today.

  7. pianos101 says:

    this is definitely TYPICAL apple, as long as you go the executive customer relations route. After quite a few repairs on my MBP last year I wrote an email to “Steve Jobs.” Within 2 days i had a replacement MBP on its way to me, along with a pro-rated refund of my apple care. Fortunately, this is the typical way of Apple’s customer service. Kudos, Apple!

  8. Will Clarke says:

    Here is my experience with Apple:

    I bought a MacBook, refurbished, at the Apple Store online. It was the 2 GHz model for $999. After a couple weeks, the screen started flickering off and on. It would do this at random times, not all the time. I took it to my local Apple Store. I couldn’t get it to repeat the problem, but they took it in anyway.

    I got it back a few days later. It seemed to be okay, but after a few days it started flickering again. Back to the Apple Store.

    They took it in again, and again on my word (naturally it wouldn’t flicker in front of them – antiperformance anexiety?) and said they would fix it.

    Got it back the next week, and it seemed to be fixed for about a month – then started flickering again. BACK to the Apple Store.

    Since it was my third time bringing it in for the same issue, they said they would give me a new machine. At first I thought they just meant a replacement one, but they meant a NEW one. And since the original model that I bought was not available anymore, it was a lot newer. It took about a week and a half, but in the end I got a brand new 2.2 GHz MacBook (which currently retailed for $1499).

    Overall I was very impressed. The problems were annoying, but it isn’t my primary computer and I bought a refurbished machine so I wasn’t that surprised I ended up with a lemon. Apple responded appropriately without me having to bitch or moan about my customer experience. And one of the Apple Geniuses I worked with was really cute, so that was a plus too.

  9. jamar0303 says:

    @trillium: wait, what? Pre-OS X Macs have a command prompt too?

  10. omniomi says:

    Reading the original story along with this one it would appear to me you never dealt with Apple Technical Support?

    I have had an Apple replaced before and it was done by a “Product Specialist” or Sr. Tech… whatever you wanna call them. From what I can figure through reading and personal observation they have just as much ability to make judgment calls about replacements as the exec line… so why is everyone wasting the time of the executive relations agents?

    When I did tech support for a large game company whenever we opened a case that had executive notes on it we became weary of the customer because it was obvious they were a complainer. Why put that mark and that stigma on your records with a company when you can get what you want by following normal channels? Trust me “the lowly pleebs” in customer service know what executive notes on a case means – it means you don’t accept the answers you are given and will go straight to the top to get a new anwswer – so they know if you don’t like their answer shit will roll down hill when you call corporate even if their answer was the right one.

    The Consumerist makes it sound like you have to email or call corporate numbers immediately after speaking to a front-line agent and not getting what you what…. this just isn’t the case and I wish people would stop listening to this BS. Try the normal escalation paths first “supervisor” OR “sr tech” depending on the company you’re working with – you would be surprised at the level of power some Sr Techs have with some companies… I know I have worked for a bunch.

  11. goodcow says:

    This is normal, corporate replaced my MacBook Pro after numerous failures and that included a pro-rated AppleCare refund.

  12. ReidWings says:

    This is very typical of Apple. I know three people who have personally had laptops replaced by Apple for no charge. One of these was even a 3 year old Powerbook G4. Since they no longer made these, a replacement MacBook Pro was given instead. In another instance, my father went in to get his iBook G4 repaired (and he was willing to pay for it as he was out of warranty). Apple was unable to repair it, and the service guy came out from the back and literally said “I have good news and bad…I couldn’t fix your laptop, but we’ve decided to give you a replacement for free.”

    Two of the three replaced laptops I’ve seen have required a few calls to applecare and asking to speak with superiors. But in one case, it was offered without even asking for it! Apple rocks

  13. tamoko says:

    I’ve always had good experiences with Apple. The motherboard on my G4 Powerbook kicked it late last year. The laptop was still covered by warranty, so I sent it off to Texas to be repaired. As it turns out, the Powerbook “disappeared” somewhere in transit after it was fixed, and being returned to me. Needless to say, I was not pleased. Naturally I had backed everything up, and even wiped the drive clean before I sent it. I have multiple computers. so it wasn’t like I was unable to do work, or school work….

    Well, after a phone call to Apple Care, and some polite confirmation that the original laptop was “missing”, I received a new MackBook Pro, tricked out with the maximum of RAM via DHL.

    I’m very pleased..

    @jamar0303: No command prompt in OS 9 or below, or least not a command prompt like we see now, via the Darwin Kernel.

  14. macfoo says:

    @jamar0303: Only when it boots to the EEPROM and not all the way up to the OS (this was OS 9 at the time). Which when telling Apple Support that it was at the eeprom prompt the exact quote was “Wow! That just ain’t right!”

  15. Taki says:

    Any way we could get a copy of that picture without the icons/dock/menubar? That would make an awesome wallpaper.

  16. Alex Chasick says:

    @Taki: Email me at and I’ll hook you up.

  17. Alex Chasick says:

    @omniomi: That is incorrect. I spoke with normal tech support, but I didn’t get what I wanted. In the original story, I mentioned that the Genius I talked to flatly denied that Apple ever replaces its products and that he would keep fixing it each time it broke. It’s arguable whether a genius and a tech are comparable, but I’ve dealt with both plenty of times during my hardware failures (and as you can see, there have been many), and it’s consistently been my experience, and I think most of the readers of this site would agree, that executive customer support gets faster, better results than going through the normal CSR channels.

  18. jamar0303 says:

    @macfoo: Ohhhh, the OpenFirmware prompt. I forgot about that.

  19. Ben Popken says:

    The borked desktop is strangely beautiful.

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    Definitely typical. I dropped my iMac suffering from a bad power supply at my local Apple store (after trying via the Apple phone # to get the parts to replace it myself, which they refused – refused – to do, telling me to go in person instead.

    The genius (Chris – still remember his name) tried to boot it up, it failed. Asked if it was under warrantee (it wasn’t). Asked if it was part of a recall (it wasn’t). Asked how long I had it (over two years). Clickity, clackity, clickity, his fingertips said on his Mac. Thuputa thuputa thuputa said his printer. SLAP said the tabletop as he put the bill in front of me. Girding my loins manfully, I looked at the bill.

    Zero, zero and zero said the totals for parts, labor and fees.

    Profuse apologies that they’d probably have my Mac for a week, since, y’know, there were other people ahead of me in line.

    Left. Ate. Returned to my house. Before I got back, Apple had called, cheerily informing me that my Mac was ready for pickup. Hours later.

    No Consumerist, no ECB, no whining – err, manfully asserting my rights as consumer. Also, no warrantee, no AppleCare contract (tho for laptop or Corporate, I would have) and 2.5 years of problem-free operation until that point.

    About the only complaint I could come up with was they didn’t deliver milk and warm cookies that night, and tuck me in bed with a quick peck on my forehead. Or scary bedtime story of how my adventure would have turned out had I bought a Dell running Vista 2.5 years ago instead.

    Swoon. I <3 Apple.

  21. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    The logic board on my iMac G5 went kaput a few weeks ago, and Apple’s doing jack shit about it since it’s older than 3 years!

  22. howie_in_az says:

    @The Great Aussie Evil: Yeah they also won’t replace my Pentium 166MHz with an 8-core MacPro. Forget Apple, those bastards!

  23. yesteryear says:

    @The Great Aussie Evil: did you have applecare?

  24. calvinneal says:

    Apple is better than Dell or any other computer company I have ever dealt with. My mac mini started acting up when it was 2 months old. The second time back to the Troy, Michigan store, my wife tells the genius she is unhappy with the mini and want a new one. A manager brings a new one out in a bag and tells us to have a nice day! We couldn’t believe it! The mini is about three years old and still a great machine. Apple knows how to treat the customer.

  25. bperye says:

    Glad to see another happy ending.

    Seconding @Calvinneal’s comment – I’ve had nothing but exceptional customer service from Apple on each occasion I’ve needed to call (most recently with my own MacBookPro) and I’m glad to see consumerist devoting some space to positive outcomes to break up the depression inducing volume of anti-customer behavior exhibited by the megacorps and minicorps alike.


  26. GilloD says:

    My Applecare ran out just maybe 2 or 3 weeks ago. When the power adapter they sent me just prior pretty much melted the inside of my Powerbook, I gave them a ring just to see if anything could be done. To my surprise, they fast tracked the repair, free of charge. They ended up replacing pretty much the entire computer, sans hard drive and display. I had the computer back in less than a week. I’ve never had anything short of a stellar experience in 5+ years of Mac ownage.

  27. lpranal says:

    The Screencap reminds me of LOGO , and learning to program in 4th grade on Apple IIs… ah memories…

  28. acasto says:

    That’s what you get for injecting your MacBook Pro with nanites!

  29. lasciate says:

    Very typical of Apple customer service.

  30. like10thousand says:

    Argh, not typical at all – my (not mac using) father got me one of the first MBPs off the line, and it’s a POS: hasn’t gone 3 months without spending quality time at a genius bar or in one of their fixing houses. once, i sent it in for that triad of problems the initial run had, and for something else that I don’t even remember now, and they sent it back having only ‘tightened screen hinges.’ I just spent the past 2 months convincing Apple to fix my computer, reinstate my warranty, and refund me the $300 they charged me that they shouldn’t have (long story). I have terrible luck with the phone service.

    As a (marginally) cute girl, i have much better time with the genius bars where i can almost always flirt my way into having the machine fixed. if anything else happens i’m asking for a new one, and i should have a year ago. The lesson: if you’re polite and male, use the phone. If you’re agitated and female, go to the bar. Again, argh.

  31. ppiddyp says:

    Apple replaced my iBook after its 4th trip to their repair facilities in a year, prorated my Applecare, upgraded my year old G3 to a new G4 and got a customer for life, or until they screw me over bad enough to offset the good vibes they won.

  32. loadedthorn says:

    I’ve never had a major hardware problem, and I’ve never purchased Apple care, but I’ve gotten 2 replacement batteries, a replacement charger, and a top cover after it had been cracked, all at no charge, just by visiting the genius bar. I’ve also had a positive experience with iTunes Store customer service.

  33. lthaus says:

    Wow.. Some of you have great stories, others what I’m experiencing now. My mid level macbook’s harddrive died… so after talking with apple “care” I went in to the Genius bar… After showing him what I knew, system won’t boot. Was rolling with Journel errors… etc.. he takes it in back and then up front on their computer… more time…more time.. presents me with a 755$ bill. Tells me that the laptop must have been dropped and that there was liquid residue showing on the battery. I’m beside myself now.. The laptop is a LAPTOP, not a desk queen. it is used daily moved around and such.
    it shows signs of ware. But to him, it’s abused and no longer covered. BTW, its not 10 months old yet.. After trying to explain how the ‘ware’ was created and getting blank stares in return, I ask for my Extended Support to be refunded, ready to leave the store and never ever return. They powwow another 30 seconds and tell me that they can send it in for a second opinion. I agree.

    Thats where I’m at now. I called to speak to a customer service expert and at least tell someone my side of the story. They are looking into it… will get back with me. BTW, I know that the system has not been dropped and further no liquid could have possibly been ‘spilled’ into the area of the battery they are showing me. The residue is a blue-green seep from the place the metal cover meets the plastic. But, I’m told with confidence, “Its Not battery acid”.. I simply ask for an objective eye to look into the compartment and show me ANY residue IN the computer or on the Harddrive. Anywhere Other then the Lip of the battery. None. Nothing, but No matter. Its liquid damage and $755 if you want the 85$ Hard drive replaced….. I pray they come to their right mind.
    This was my first Mac and truly the first of 3 I wanted to buy. Much depends on their next move.

    Why didn’t the Genius just go yea.. what you say could have happened, let me look into that…..

  34. lthaus says:

    Follow up:
    Replaced: Logic board, Hard drive, Memory and Case..
    Price: $0.00

    I have restored my fanboy card to my wallet…