How AppleCare Can Save the Day (or ruin it)

My MacBook Pro
My MacBook Pro

I use my MacBook Pro for both business and personal. At home, I try to use the Mac side as much as possible while still running a Windows Vista virtual machine at the same time for development stuff. When I’m at work, all I run is Vista from my virtual machine on the MacBook and then iTunes in the background from the Mac side.I was getting ready for a conference call last Thursday. I closed my MacBook and with that in tow, I headed for one of the conference rooms. When I got to the room, I opened my lid and to my surprise my screen didn’t come right back on like it usually does. I power cycled it … still no screen. After my call I went back to my desk and plugged into my external LCD display … nothing.

Granted my Time Machine backup was current, so that wasn’t a concern, but what is wrong and how am I going to fix it?

My buddy Jim at work, who is a Mac guru tried all the secret keyboard handshakes as I watched in disbelief, still trying to figure out how this was going to get fixed. Whatever Jim did, the screen came back and worked for the rest of the day.

But then came Friday morning.

I hit the power button as I arrived at work. Again, no display. I reached into my desk drawer and pulled out my Dell laptop, what I consider to be my reserve… The “break glass in case of emergency” laptop. This and webmail would have to get me through the day.

I did some quick searching and discovered a tech article from Apple on display distortion and video card problems relating to a malfunctioning NVIDIA video card.

The real problem here was my MacBook was 14 months old. Essentially past the one year warranty period. Others who had video problems mentioned a $310 minimum charge.

I went to the Apple Store at Southdale. They put it through a few tests and figured out it was related to the graphics card and that had to be replaced. The good news … It was covered under their “Quality Service” program. Even though I was out of the warranty period, I was still going to get my repair at no charge. They told me it would take 1-2 days. No big deal. It was the weekend. I’d have it before today.

At 5 PM Friday, the Apple Store called me and said it was fixed and ready to be picked up. What service. I can honestly say that my experiences with Apple have been nothing but positive.

The moral of the story? AppleCare, Apple’s warranty program covers a product for a total of 3 years (1 year included with the product, AppleCare extends that an additional 2 years). It costs you about $300 for that warranty on the MacBook Pro and has to be purchased before the end of the first year. I didn’t do that.

The guy at the Apple Store told me that same repair when not under warranty is $310. If you have it done in-store, it is closer to $600. Ouch.

$300 seems like a lot up front, but this case alone has convinced me that next time I will purchase the AppleCare. You may never need it, but it takes one repair like this to make it all worthwhile.