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.