The previous lines of plastic MacBooks are notorious for developing a wide variety of defects. One defect in particular, cracking plastic, has caused many to aptly refer to these MacBooks as “CrackBooks.”
This article will tell you how to turn that outdated CrackBook into a brand new MacBook. It worked for us. I hope it works for you.
The cracking defect often develops after a matter of months of normal usage and is recurrent. Apple has been quietly replacing the cracked components – even for MacBooks that are no longer under warranty or AppleCare – but the cracks usually re-emerge because the replacement components are just as defective as the originals. The problem seems to be linked to the design of the plastic cases and, therefore, it is no surprise that Apple has drastically revamped its current plastic MacBook and has apparently abandoned plastic bodies for its next generation of iPhones.
Those of you who are still stuck with one of these CrackBooks have three options. First, you can live with the cracks. Based upon my own personal experience, this is what most people seem to be doing. I am a coffeeshop junkie and see these CrackBooks on a daily basis. It is a shame that the average owner seems to be wholly unaware that this is an issue. Second, you can take your CrackBook in for repair, which might be your only option if your one-year limited warranty and AppleCare have already expired. Finally, you may be able to request a replacement MacBook. You heard me right; Apple is, under certain circumstances, replacing those defective CrackBooks with its current line of plastic MacBooks.
The first thing you need is a MacBook that is a legitimately defective CrackBook. Please do not try to get a free repair or replacement unless you genuinely believe that your MacBook really is a CrackBook. How do you know you have a CrackBook? Take a close look at it. The plastic usually first begins to crack at the front-facing edges of the keyboard hand rest. Portions of the plastic often fracture, chip, separate, or peel off over time, leaving seams exposed around the edges of the MacBook. Cracking in other locations is less common, but it does occur. For example, the plastic may crack or fall off around the screen’s outer edges or hairline fractures may appear near metal fittings, ports, vents, or joints.
If your MacBook has these cracks, then it is a CrackBook and you should get it fixed immediately. The sooner the better, because you need to go through the proper procedures in order ensure that you are legally entitled to demand a replacement. You need to give Apple a reasonable number of attempts to fix the problem, which takes time. Moreover, you will have a difficult time once your one-year limited warranty or AppleCare expires. Apple may not be willing to perform more than a single repair if you first report the problem after your coverage has expired. Therefore, it is important that you take your CrackBook in for repair as soon as you notice cracks – do not wait for it to get worse or for other cracks to develop.
Back up your data and take your CrackBook to your local Apple Store or contact Apple Support by telephone. If you take it to your local Apple Store they can usually repair it within twenty-four hours. If you take it to an Apple Service provider you should call beforehand to make sure they have the parts to repair it. If you try to get it repaired by mail expect to be without your CrackBook for at least a few days. Write down the names of the Apple representatives you speak with and save all paperwork. These records will come in handy later. If all goes well Apple will have fixed your CrackBook… for now. Unfortunately, the parts Apple used to fix your CrackBook are probably just as prone to cracking as the original ones. That is okay because we are going to bring that CrackBook back if the cracks redevelop.
If you bring your CrackBook in for repair while it is still covered by its one-year warranty or AppleCare and the cracks come back, even after coverage expires, you should be prepared to argue that Apple failed to adequately fix the cracking issue while it was still covered and, therefore, Apple is still obligated to repair or eventually replace your CrackBook because they never fixed the original problem. If you bring your CrackBook in for repair after the warranty and AppleCare have expired, Apple will probably repair it, but it is doubtful that they will replace it if the defect recurs.
Now that your CrackBook has been repaired once, continue to use it as you normally would. Chances are, the cracks will return within several weeks or months. When the cracks return, take your CrackBook back in for repair. Do this until Apple has repaired your CrackBook three or four times. By this point you will probably very tired of having your CrackBook repaired every several months. You are perfectly justified in feeling frustrated; you should not have to keep taking your CrackBook in for repair for this issue.
Once you are on your third or fourth repair it is time to act. You have suffered long enough. The number of repair attempts is extremely important here because that is the operative issue. Apple’s own internal policies are on your side and the Magnuson-Moss Act is the relevant law here, which gives you – the consumer – the right to elect replacement or refund of a defective consumer product after the manufacturer has had a reasonable number of attempts to repair it. Yes, in theory, you can even seek a refund of the original purchase price; it is up to you.
What constitutes a “reasonable number” of repair attempts is not defined by statute, but three or four is normally enough. Moreover, the repairs must have been for precisely the same issue. Having your CrackBook repaired for an unrelated issue probably will not be relevant unless your repair receipt indicates that Apple also fixed parts due to cracked plastic. Therefore, you should be insistent that Apple properly documents the repairs every time Apple fixes your CrackBook.
Unsurprisingly, it appears that Apple has its own unwritten policy to replace defective items after three or four repair attempts. I have experienced the same results in the past regarding other chronic defects. After all, to have such a policy is consistent with the law and it is far less expensive for Apple to exchange defective products upon a customer’s reasonable request than to expose itself to an unnecessary risk of expensive litigation.
As an added bonus, Apple will never replace a defective Mac with an inferior product and, therefore, you will always end up with something that is equal to or better than what they are replacing. Given the rate in which Apple releases new products, you will probably end up with an upgrade. For example, Apple replaced our CrackBook with a brand new MacBook.
Contact Apple Support by telephone. It is easier to arrange for the exchange over the telephone because the Apple Support representative will normally transfer you to a supervisor after you explain the situation. In my experience, Apple Geniuses frequently have difficulties understanding issues such as this and, for whatever reason, are often reluctant to seek out a supervisor who can authorize this type of transaction. Save yourself the time and get the exchange authorized by telephone.
Inform the support representative that your CrackBook’s plastic keeps cracking and you have allowed Apple to attempt to fix the problem on a number of occasions. Cite the dates of each repair and inform the support representative that you cannot keep bringing your Mac in for service every time the cracks return. A showing of consistent repair attempts (e.g. every three to four months) certainly bolsters the reasonableness of your argument (e.g. you have been taking it in for repair consistently). Tell the representative that you believe that you have given them a reasonable number of opportunities to fix the defect and that you would like to replace the entire unit. If needed, cite the Magnuson-Moss Act, provided that you have at least read it. In my experience the Apple Support representatives have always been very understanding and accommodating, so be polite!
If you live near an Apple Store you can arrange to bring your CrackBook in for exchange. This is the quickest and easiest option. My Apple supervisor scheduled the Apple Store appointment for me, which was nice. If you do not live near an Apple Store you will have two other choices. First, Apple can mail you a box for you to return your CrackBook. Upon receipt of your CrackBook, Apple will mail your replacement MacBook. The problem with this method is that you will be without a computer for a few days. Second, you can expedite the process by providing Apple with a credit card. Apple will charge your credit card the amount of the replacement MacBook and will mail it immediately. Upon receipt of the replacement MacBook you must mail your CrackBook back to Apple in the same box and Apple will refund your credit card once it gets notice that you have mailed it.
Whatever the method you choose, be sure to also return your power supply (the plastic on the power supply’s power jack also cracks) and other materials that originally came with your CrackBook because Apple will replace those as well. You should also take measures to ensure that your AppleCare is properly transferred to your new MacBook. Of course, you should also be sure to back up any data (ideally using Time Machine) before giving up your old CrackBook. If you need help doing this Apple can do the file transfer for you. Congratulations, you are now rid of that CrackBook and the proud owner of a newer, faster MacBook.