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AppleCare, support, and repair issues

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I just wanted to relate an experience I had trying to get the battery replaced in my MacBook Pro. Not knowing exactly how this would work, I first tried to call AppleCare and my local Apple Store to see if they could perform the repair on-site. This was not effective, nobody could tell me if they stocked the correct parts or could make an actual appointment for me to get the repair done, in all cases they wanted the Genius Bar to look at it and determine what needed to be done next.

So I went ahead and booked an appointment with my local Apple Store, took the unit in, and the Genius that helped me confirmed what I was sure of, my battery was "consumed" and should be replaced. He recommended I call AppleCare and they would send me a box, I would ship the laptop, and I would get it back in about a week. The battery replacement would cost $199.

I contacted Apple via chat today and got everything setup--as part of the process they sent me to a billing link so I could pay for the repair. The payment summary on the resulting page said the repair would cost $634.34.


Somewhat stunned, I opened another chat to ask about this. The agent confirmed that the way Apple handles this kind of repair is that they charge the full amount for a flat-rate repair immediately, and then refund the balance if only the battery is replaced. If it appears that more work needs to be done, Apple would contact me to verify I want it completed.


This just doesn't seem right to me. $634 is way more than $199. Why am I paying in advance for work that probably will not need to be done? Why can't Apple just hold my credit card number until they do the work, and charge me the actual balance (like any other professional repair organization) after the work is complete?
What country are you located in?
 


I’ll add my $0.02 USD

My MacBook Pro (6 years old) needed a new battery. Set up an appointment with Apple. Genius™ looks at my laptop, confirms it needs a new battery. Checks on a few things (in the back office), returns and informs me that in the past Apple had difficulty with parts for this particular laptop, and they were replacing batteries for free. He was a little surprised that they were still doing it for free, since they had the parts in stock now. A week later I picked up my laptop and the $278.00 USD charge was $0.00 USD. (The real crime here is why would a laptop battery ever cost that much?)

I could go on for days and days of personal experiences of Apple repairing my devices for free since 1996 when I purchased my first Apple computer (switched from Commodore™).

Tomorrow I’m getting a new keyboard for my iMac (2017), since the letter ‘D’ is screwed up, for free (well, I did pay for AppleCare™).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Apple got into a little trouble in Australia over its repair policies and iPhones bricked by "Error 53":
The Verge said:
Apple fined $6.6 million after iPhones and iPads stopped working because they had third-party parts
... Apple says it misled at least 275 Australian customers whose devices were affected by telling them they were not eligible for repairs. The company has since reached out to 5,000 affected customers, according to Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission.
... Apple later issued its own fix for the problem.
 



This is in reference to an iPad, but I think my experience relates to the Mac as well.

I recently had my iPad Pro 10.5 replaced under AppleCare because of a display defect. To their credit, Apple didn't quibble. The guy at the Genius Bar glanced at the problem and arranged for a replacement, which came the following day. Yay!

However, I couidn't get the replacement to connect to T-Mobile for the same kind of prepaid data pass I had on the original iPad. This led to a frustrating round of long phone calls to T-Mobile and Apple tech support over several days. Apple had me restore iOS from iTunes. No joy. Finally, several calls later, T-Mobile transferred me into the depths of Apple tech support and I was talking to a guy who seemed to understand. Somewhere in Apple's records, my Apple ID was pointing to the old iPad, so any attempt to set up cellular service on the new iPad was doomed.

He escalated the problem, and the engineers came back with a request for a screenshot of the replacement iPad connected to iTunes and a screenshot of the Settings > General > About page of the iPad.. I took the initiative to include a copy & pasted text file of all the numbers iTunes displays when you click on the Serial Number field, including the ICCID, IMEI, MEID, and other numbers. I figured that engineers would not object to additional accurate information. Within a couple of hours, I was able to sign up for the T-Mobile data pass. Problem solved! I just wish I knew what information was critical to the solution.

The general lesson is to keep trying until you reach a person who thinks, instead of following a script.
 


I recently had my iPad Pro 10.5 replaced under AppleCare because of a display defect.
Would you describe the defect for us? My iPad Pro 10.5" display occasionally changes color and/or brightness at random. I can't repeat the problem on demand, so I haven't brought it in to Apple.
 


Would you describe the defect for us? My iPad Pro 10.5" display occasionally changes color and/or brightness at random. I can't repeat the problem on demand, so I haven't brought it in to Apple.
A fuzzy, bright spot the size of a small jellybean appeared, centered about 2 inches above the home button. It was distractingly visible when scrolling black on white text, but not when that area of the screen was darker , as when displaying a photo. It wasn't glaring white, but still proved impossible to ignore. Fortunately, the spot was permanent, so I had no trouble showing it to the Apple Genius.
 


Would you describe the defect for us? My iPad Pro 10.5" display occasionally changes color and/or brightness at random. I can't repeat the problem on demand, so I haven't brought it in to Apple.
I've noticed my iPad display occasionally does the same, but I think it's always been because I either covered the front camera with a finger, or moved it between light and shadow. I"m not sure if you can turn off True Tone and the like to diagnose.
 


I've noticed my iPad display occasionally does the same, but I think it's always been because I either covered the front camera with a finger, or moved it between light and shadow. I"m not sure if you can turn off True Tone and the like to diagnose.
You can turn off True Tone in Settings/Display & Brightness. I've had mine turned off for a long time, but the display issues continue. I'm more concerned about the color change since I do have True Tone turned off.

Here's my experience. I am at Settings > Display & Brightness. I turn the iPad so it faces a bright window. The Brightness slider moves to the right, making the display brighter. I turn it around so the iPad is facing into the room, and the slider moves to the left. I cover the camera with my thumb, turn the iPad, and the slider moves the same way. I conclude that the camera is not being used to sense ambient brightness. Perhaps someone can tell us how the iPad senses ambient brightness.

I should note that I've also had the brightness change when the iPad is stationary and the ambient light is not changing.
 



I cover the camera with my thumb, turn the iPad, and the slider moves the same way. I conclude that the camera is not being used to sense ambient brightness. Perhaps someone can tell us how the iPad senses ambient brightness.
You are correct. It is not running the camera all the time (that would probably be a real problem, both in terms of battery drain and privacy concerns). There is a separate ambient light sensor. It should be near the camera, much like how it is on iPhones.

If your iPad has a white bezel, then you might be able to see the opening as a "hole" in the white color. If it has a black bezel, then it may be hard to see. At least this is the case for older models. For later ones, there doesn't seem to be any gap in the paint. I wonder if they are using a paint that conducts enough light for the sensor so they don't need to leave a hole unpainted.

According to this article, the iPad 2, 3 and 4 put it above the camera. Looking at iFixit's guide to replacing an iPad 5's camera, they say that the camera assembly includes the ambient light sensor. I assume it's the little red and yellow square just to the left of the camera lens, but I suppose it could also be behind the two holes in the assembly (upper-left and lower-right of the lens).
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I don't recall anything quite like this happening before:
Motherboard said:
Someone Uploaded What Look to Be Apple’s Internal iPhone Repair Videos
Apple doesn’t want its customers to repair their own devices. Its phones and laptops require specialty tools to open and repair and sometimes pushes software updates that disable features on phones repaired with aftermarket parts. So it’s probably not going to like that someone has uploaded what appear to be 11 of its internal repair videos to YouTube.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but two sources in the repair community familiar with Apple’s repair policies told Motherboard these are indeed genuine Apple how-to videos. The videos themselves have an Apple copyright on them, the host references internal Apple documentation and diagnostic tests, and, most importantly, the videos use proprietary Apple disassembly and repair tools that Motherboard has previously confirmed are manufactured by and are exclusive to Apple.
 




As expected, these videos are no longer available. I'm glad I downloaded them before Apple issued a takedown.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
An AppleCare nightmare is described here in regards to defective design of Apple's exclusive LG 4K monitor and insanely defective support on the part of Apple.
 


engadget said:
iMac Pro, 2018 MacBook Pros require Apple software for certain repairs
According to MacRumors and shown on documents posted by Motherboard, anyone doing significant repair work on these systems will be left with a nonfunctioning system until they run the "Apple Service Toolkit 2" diagnostic software. For the MacBook Pro that includes "display assembly, logic board, top case (the keyboard, touchpad, and internal housing), and Touch ID board," and on the iMac Pro, it's the logic board or SSD.
Motherboard said:
Apple's New Proprietary Software Locks Kill Independent Repair on New MacBook Pros
Apple has introduced software locks that will effectively prevent independent and third-party repair on 2018 MacBook Pro computers, according to internal Apple documents obtained by Motherboard. The new system will render the computer “inoperative” unless a proprietary Apple “system configuration” software is run after parts of the system are replaced.
MacRumors said:
iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro Systems Must Pass Apple Diagnostics to Function After Certain Repairs
Due to advanced security features of the Apple T2 chip, iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro models must pass Apple diagnostics for certain repairs to be completed, according to an internal document from Apple obtained by MacRumors.

For the 2018 MacBook Pro, the requirement applies to repairs involving the display, logic board, Touch ID, and top case, which includes the keyboard, battery, trackpad, and speakers, according to the document. For the iMac Pro, the requirement only applies to logic board and flash storage repairs.
 




I read a report that Macs with the T2 chip need to be repaired with Apple repairs only.
Not yet, but this might become the case in the future.

Apple sent a memo to authorized service people, but so far (according to iFixit), it's not the case. They were able to swap parts without running the proprietary Apple diagnostic software.

That having been said, it is quite possible that Apple will start doing this in some future macOS/firmware update and when they do, it will likely brick any computer with unauthorized repairs, requiring a trip to an authorized service center to run the diagnostic and unlock the system.
 



MacWorld also covered this:
OK, void the warranty, sure, but this goes so far beyond accepted practices in any industry. New Macs are looking less attractive all the time.
The headlines lately suggest that we are, and have been, in times of nation-state-supported hacking and the potential of a chip required in a device being supplied by a supplier with an undetectable spy capability. Maybe Apple is concerned about third-party parts going into an iPhone with the capability of phoning home and/or compromising the Apple ecosystem. Or maybe the 'bad' guys are providing a backdoor to disable Apple's goal of having security for all iPhone users. The simpler answer could be that Apple does not want to deal with customers complaining or wanting a warranty for non-Apple parts installed in Apple devices.
 




Ric Ford

MacInTouch


Here's a CBC video report on issues with Apple Stores, repairs, etc., including segments with Louis Rossman, iFixit, and more:
I've been watching Louis Rossmann's YouTube channel (the repairman featured in the CBC video) for quite a while now, and I credit him with renewing my interest in hot-air reworking of boards, such as those in Apple products. He's proven that knowledgable folks can keep older Mac hardware usable for quite some time, perfectly acceptable for most people. There's also a woman, who, like Rossmann, does the same thing but with a specialty in iPhones. [I think] Apple keeping things in their "walled garden" is pretty much to force people to purchase replacements to ensure their own cash flow [and] I'd bet Steve Jobs is rolling in his grave around now for looking at what his company has become.

I worked in Apple's retail channel back in the early to mid 1980's, and things were pretty straightforward to repair, and, in fact, someone with common sense and electronics knowledge would have been able to repair most Apple products, sans any proprietary ICs that were unobtainium.

Today, working in a K-12 educational environment, Apple has us, as well as consumers in general, by the short and curlies. The CBC news story didn't shock me at all. Our district purchases direct from Apple, and I have iPads for which Apple adamantly refuses to disable activation lock where a former staffer tied the device to their own personal email. It's unbelievable that they can't locate the record of our purchases for these devices! Imagine who a consumer off the street has to endure if they inadvertently lock their device?

I have a school in my district that wants to become all-Mac. Believe me, I'm going to provide some serious analysis on why they should reconsider staying in the Windows ecosystem, as much as I'm no fan of the boys in Redmond.

Fortunately, I haven't had the chance to throw away a MacBook due to a small component failure yet. It's hard to imagine tossing out good hardware just because a bit of corrosion or a small active component, such as a chip, makes the device unusable.

Apple's "innovation", such as the T2 chip, may be presented as a boon for privacy, but I suspect the real reason is to prevent those of us who believe we have a right to repair devices we own from maintaining them. Remember error 53 with the iPhone home button? Tell me that was an accident! Was this a deliberate act to prevent third-party repairs? Rossmann himself stocked up on replacement MacBook screens, only to have Apple alter the EIED code so the replacements won't work with an OS upgrade. I owe a lot of my past and present livelihood to Apple products, but I don't know if I'd continue to purchase them anymore.

I've been using dirt-old 2012 Mac Minis, because I want my own monitor choice, and none of Apple's current offerings are decent. If Apple throws the T2 chip in the next monitorless desktop computer, that will be the nail in the coffin as far as I'm concerned. If we vote with our collective wallets, then Apple will take notice.
 


I've been using dirt-old 2012 Mac Minis, because I want my own monitor choice, and none of Apple's current offerings are decent. If Apple throws the T2 chip in the next monitorless desktop computer, that will be the nail in the coffin as far as I'm concerned. If we vote with our collective wallets, then Apple will take notice.
I have owned Macs since the Mac Plus and only once that I can remember took any of my many Macs to a shop to get it fixed. It was a failed video card in an iMac. I used the dealers for all kinds of upgrades, such as doubling the speed of the Mac Plus and pushing the clock speed of a Mac IIfx. Other than upgrading all of my iMacs and some MacBook Pro's to SSD and maxing out their memory, I am reasonably sure that I am done with upgrades.

Looking in the rearview mirror, I used to upgrade to new machines for speed, and the speed upgrade was significant. Now, my brain and my typing skills are the limiting factor in the throughput of my computer. As an electrical engineer who did a lot of tinkering with many machines, I recognize that a computer has become a tool only, and as long as it works, I ignore it except for software upgrades. I suspect, also, that my attitude is typical of the vast majority of the millions or billions of people who purchase computers and smartphones and who care less about how technology works. BTW, I rather like the touch strip on my MacBook Pro.

Ironically, about the time I purchased a new MacBook Pro with 8-hour or so battery life for my relatively infrequent plane rides, the planes were rapidly being equipped with charging stations. This also included airports and older planes that are being retrofitted, like a Boeing 717 I recently rode on. As an aside, another reason that I do not need long battery life in my MacBook Pro on a modern airplane in the economy seats is that there is no room for me to open my computer safely. :(
 


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