If you’re fortunate enough to receive a new Mac this Holiday season, in addition to graciously thanking whoever gave it to you, you should make some time to take care of a few basic preliminary matters, which will end up saving you time and money in the long-run.
Unboxing. Unbox your Mac while being careful not to rip, tear, destroy, or discard any of the box or accompanying materials. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea, but here are two of the biggest ones.
First, if something ends up being wrong with your Mac – whether it’s defective or an incorrect model – you’re going to need its original packaging (provided you’re still within Apple’s return policy period). Note here that although Apple’s return policy normally permits returns for up to fourteen days after purchase Apple has extended the deadline for returns on purchases made during the Holiday season (a common retailer practice). Any purchases made between October 29, 2011 and December 25, 2011 may be returned until January 9, 2012.
Second, let’s think long-term here. Macs retain their value like no other consumer electronics products and, therefore, there’s a good chance that you may want to resell your Mac at some point in the future. Having your Mac’s original packaging materials always helps make the product look more attractive to potential buyers and will certainly help you sell it faster and for a better price.
Initial Inspection. Conduct a basic inspection of your new Mac. Have a good look at its exterior. Is there any damage? It doesn’t matter how slight because exterior damage may be evidence of a greater issue or defect. Make sure there aren’t any scratches on its body, chips or cracks in its screen, or any other evidence of damage or mishandling.
If your Mac is even slightly damaged you should take advantage of Apple’s extended Holiday return policy and exchange it for a new one. In my experience, Apple permits the return of damaged Macs provided the damage is reported very shortly after purchase. The longer you wait, however, the more likely an Apple representative will assume you caused the damage. There are at least two reasons why you should do this.
First, if your Mac turns out to be defective you’re going to have to take it to Apple for repair. If your Mac has undocumented damage an Apple Genius or repair technician may refuse to honor its One-Year limited Warranty or AppleCare (if you purchased AppleCare) because of the damage. It’s going to be their word against yours and – whether or not you eventually convince Apple honor the warranty or AppleCare – that’s not an argument you ever want to have to make. If Apple doesn’t honor your Mac’s warranty or AppleCare you’re stuck paying for the repair out of pocket.
Second, damage will always reduce the resale value of your Mac. If you ever do decide to resell your Mac you may have a more difficult time getting a good price, or even finding a buyer, if it’s damaged.
Check for Defects. Apple makes great products, but defects are a sad reality of any manufacturing process. You should put your Mac through at least an elementary vetting process where you inspect it for potential defects. Defects are different from physical damage. Unlike physical damage, which is not covered by Apple’s standard One-Year Limited Warranty or standard AppleCare (not to be confused with AppleCare+, which does provide limited coverage for accidental damage on iPhones) defects are fully-covered and, therefore, there’s less of a sense of urgency here. That said, without going into all of the reasons, it’s always better to get defects handled sooner than later.
Chances are your Mac will not be defective at all, but you need to do your due diligence just in case. When I’m checking my Macs for defects I like to break it down by the various hardware components that make it up and I go through them one-by-one – asking myself whether each component behaves as advertised. For example, does the screen have an unacceptably high number of dead pixels; is my Mac able to connect to WiFi and Bluetooth devices; does the battery hold a proper charge; etc.?
If something seems to be awry with any part of my Mac – something is visibly broken or a component is just not performing as I think it should – I research the specific symptoms online and make a decision about whether or not I should take it in for further inspection, repair, or replacement.
Save the Date. If, after carefully unpacking and inspecting your new Mac, you’re happy with its condition then it’s time to set a few extremely important reminders. Mark your calendar or, better yet, set an alarm on your Mac’s iCal to notify you of the key dates in your Mac’s life. Determine the relevant dates by going to Apple’s Warranty Status page. This page will tell you when your One-Year Limited Warranty and/or AppleCare (if you purchased AppleCare) are set to expire. Once you have determined these dates, you should proceed to set the appropriate alarms.
First, set one to go off on January 7, 2012. If your Mac was purchased during this Holiday season then this is two days before you will have to decide whether or not to return your Mac to Apple. Second, set an alarm for two weeks before your Mac’s One-Year Limited Warranty expires. When it goes off, take some time to give your Mac a thorough inspection for any defects that may have manifested during the first year of its life. Third, if you purchased AppleCare or have any other operative dates (third-party insurance, credit card purchase protection, etc.) set an alarm to go off one to two weeks before those expire and conduct the same type of inspection when the time comes.
Stay Informed & Never Stop Learning. Congratulations. You’ve taken several of the most essential steps towards ensuring that you are protected from the some of the most common issues owners of Apple products experience. Enjoy your new Mac, but also remember that it’s an expensive piece of equipment and, therefore, you should own it responsibly. Its incumbent upon you to stay informed about the particular model of Mac you now own as well as Apple products in general. There’s always more to learn and circumstances do change – as time passes defects become more documented and articulated by online communities and Apple periodically implements special repair or replacement programs for its products. Reading sites like Cult of Mac or books like Buying and Owning a Mac: Secrets Apple Doesn’t Want You to Know will help you to become your own consumer advocate, which will help you to save you time and money during the life of your Mac.