A few years back Seattle Rex had gone all out on a 17” MacBook Pro – spending approximately $4,500 on the then top-of-the-line machine ($5,100 including AppleCare). The particular MacBook Pro he bought turned out to be defective. The laptop’s Nvidia graphics processor started displaying symptoms of the defect shortly after his AppleCare expired. A few days later the laptop died completely – it wouldn’t even start up. At the time Rex’s laptop broke down the defect was a known and well-documented issue. Apple had even issued a tech note and was replacing defective models as they failed.
Rex did his own research and quickly learned about the defect, “Apple was going to make it good,” he thought to himself. Unfortunately, he was wrong. His local Apple Store refused to service the laptop free of charge – instead they assessed nearly $600 in repair fees. Why? Because the Apple Geniuses couldn’t turn on the MacBook Pro to verify that the Nvidia graphics card was defective. In light of situation this seemed utterly ridiculous. The defect was the reason why his laptop died in the first place. According to Rex, “a $4,500 laptop that fails in 3 years and 3 months is defective. Period.”
In the months that followed Rex continued to press the issue with Apple. He wanted Apple to stand behind its product. He knew his MacBook Pro was defective and he wanted Apple to fix it. He spoke with various Apple representatives at all levels of the corporate hierarchy. When that failed he filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Finally, Rex filed a small claims lawsuit against Apple demanding that Apple make things right.
I had an experience with a particular Apple defect a few years ago and, as I went through the ordeal (albeit I never had to take Apple to court) myself, I grew to appreciate how far a little bit of consumer-savvy awareness and determination goes in situations like this. Don’t be discouraged. If you believe you have a defective Mac then you should do your own research and stick to your guns. That experience inspired me to write a book on the subject, Buying And Owning A Mac: Secrets Apple Doesn’t Want You To Know, and to start posting articles aimed at informing consumers about the same.
My hat is off to Rex. He knew his rights and he didn’t back down. Typically, Apple has an excellent track record when dealing with defective products. Under most circumstances, Apple will immediately repair or replace any defective Mac without protest. But the reality is this isn’t always going to be the case. Sometimes it’s going to be an uphill battle. Apple may refuse to service a defective Mac for a number of reasons. Your Mac may exhibit a novel or undocumented defect; your Mac’s defect may be hard to articulate or detect; you may get stuck with an Apple Genius that’s just having a bad day.
His story illustrates how far you might have to go in order to get satisfaction. Months and thousands of dollars later (he is entitled to be reimbursed for his expenses too) Rex won his case against Apple and received a favorable verdict. Good for him.