Advice From A Genius: Should You Buy AppleCare?

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Thomas Brand was a Genius at an Apple Retail Store. Now he does other things, including writing Egg Freckles, a collection of opinions and analysis about technology.

Today, Thomas has some advice and secrets for customers considering purchasing AppleCare for their Apple devices:

Portable computers can still be sent out for flat rate mail-in repair. The cost of a flat rate repair outside of the standard warranty it almost equal to the cost of AppleCare. If you own a portable computer that is outside of its original one year warranty you only need to have it repaired once before the cost of AppleCare pays for itself.

Desktop Macs are never eligible for flat rate repairs. Each part must be purchased individually, and the cost of a single Xeon Mac Pro processor or 27 inch iMac display is several times the cost of AppleCare.

I always buy AppleCare for desktop Macs. iMac AppleCare is cheap considering it covers a difficult repair and cost of the integrated display. Mac Pro AppleCare is an investment on an expensive machine that will last at least three years.

I would never buy AppleCare on a iPod, iPhone, iPad, or AppleTV. These devices are more likely to be dropped or stolen than require repair for a manufacturing defect.

AppleCare covers a AirPort Express Base Station, AirPort Extreme Base Station, or Time Capsule purchased no more than two years before your Mac purchase or during the term of your AppleCare Protection Plan coverage.

Here are some additional AppleCare tricks:

AppleCare (and the standard 1-year warranty) is good worldwide. You can go to any Apple Authorized Service Provider worldwide and get service -- or ship it, if you aren't near an AASP. Apple will cover the cost of parts and labor, but you are liable for any shipping costs, duties, VAT or other taxes.

It is fully transferable. If you sell your machine, AppleCare follows it to the new owner. It's a great selling point for a used device.

You can return AppleCare at any time for a pro-rated refund, just call the 800-number.

I once had my entire MacBook Pro replaced with a brand new model, two and a half years into my AppleCare warranty, because my machine was such a problem child.

AppleCare may not be right for everyone, but for the less tech-savvy, having 800-APL-CARE to call can be a relief and if something does go wrong, the cost of parts can easily be much higher than the cost of AppleCare.

If you're really interested, give the AppleCare terms and conditions a read. All the info you need is buried in there, somewhere.

Top Rated Comments

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118 months ago
AppleCare is pointless for European customers since our consumer rights cover manufacturing flaws for reasonable amount of time (minimum of two years for computers here in Finland). Find out your rights before buying AppleCare, you might be abe to get the same coverage without it.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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118 months ago

I always buy AppleCare for desktop Macs.


My policy has always been basically the opposite. I've bought AppleCare for notebooks but never for desktops. My reasoning is that laptops get much more wear and tear through the course of normal use, so hardware is more likely to fail over the course of 3 years. For a desktop, if hardware hasn't failed early on, it's not terribly likely to fail between years 1 and 3. If a desktop ever needed major repairs in year 1, I'd consider adding AppleCare before the standard warranty ran out.

So far that policy has paid off in every case, with 5 different Macs. The two notebooks (iBook G3 and CoreDuo MacBook) had numerous problems requiring repair throughout the 3 years. Both died completely around year 4.5, so a 5-year warranty would have been even better. Of the desktops, I have a 1996 Power Mac 7600 that still gets booted into OS 8.6 once or twice a year, a 2002 QuickSilver Power Mac G4 that runs Leopard just fine, and a 2007/08 era Mac mini (refurb in 08) that's going strong with Lion now. In the last case, it's kind of annoying because I'd really kind of like a better machine to run Lion, but can't really justify it! :rolleyes:
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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118 months ago
Warranties are pure profit for companies. I completely agree with the comment around NOT buying AppleCare for iPhones and iPods. Think about it for the iPhone. You get subsidized upgrade pricing every 18 months. The initial warranty lasts for the first 12. Therefore you're adding 90 dollars of cost by purchasing AppleCare to cover 6 Extra months? Not to smart.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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118 months ago
Not mentioned much in the article, but mentioned by some posters- for me, Applecare Phone Tech Support has paid for the contract so many times over I can't even count it.

Of course, it needs to be said that as of one year ago I had never owned a computer!:o

For the tech-savvy, phone tech support may not be much of a selling point. But for the technologically unsophisticated, extending free tech support from 90 days to three years is essential. If I remember correctly, after 90 days (without Applecare), each tech support call costs $50.00!! It doesn't take many calls to pay for the contract. And if you need as much help as I did (and do), the cost would be prohibitive.:eek: without Applecare.

And,of course, this does not even take repairs into account.

Given my technoboobicity (technoboobness?) -Applecare is a necessity. :p
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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118 months ago
I agree with the former genius' assertions on every level except for one: the overall VALUE of Applecare. While it indeed is a fantastic program that provides numerous benefits (I myself have had a 2008 white Macbook replaced with a 2010 MacBook pro due to malfunctions), the question that needs to be asked is whether there is any other warranty program that meets or even exceeds the price to coverage ration of AppleCare. To this end, the answer is simple: Squaretrade. This third-party warranty giant provides the same level of coverage that Apple provides against manufacturer's defects while also warranting against accidental damage. Apple may do a good job of protecting your MacBook, iMac, iPod touch, and iPhone against their own mistakes (which are few and far between), but they offer the consumer nothing in the way of protection against the bumps, bruises, and splashes of real life. If there is anything that could be construed as a consumer-facing mistake in Apple's business model, I believe that this indeed qualifies as one of their biggest.

For a pittance more than you would pay for AppleCare, you can get the peace of mind you want from Squaretrade. Their "online only"
interface may leave Apple owners longing for the face-to-face store interaction, but I believe that the practical will not notice the absence of blue-t-shirts and glass and maple surroundings for long. As someone who has experienced the ills and frills of both companies, I highly recommend them for the very reasons that this former genius has pointed out above.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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118 months ago
I myself strongly recommend Apple Care. This is simply the best support I have ever encountered and that's from personal experience: I bought the first generation 11" MBA within days of its release, with Apple Care on top. Three months later I slipped on ice on a walkway and pretty much crushed the device - screen ruined, trackpad shattered, serious dents all around the case. This is not covered by Apple's warranty, but upon asking at the genious bar how much repair would cost me (without even asking if it was covered by Apple Care) I was told that considering that I have owned several Apple Products before and that I had purchased Apple Care for this device, they would make a one time exception and fix it "on the house". Now I have heard stories similar to this before, but a $900 repair (they have exchanged: Bottom case, keyboard, screen, trackpad, top case, flash storage), within a week and with no charge at all: I know it's "just" a computer / a computer manufacturer we're talking about, but still tear up today thinking about this incident. So yeah - this one definitely paid for itself. Multiple times. Try that with pretty much any other company..
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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