Exchange Your Cracked MacBook For A Brand New MacBook [How To]


We exchanged our CrackBook for this MacBook
We exchanged our CrackBook for this MacBook

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This article will tell you how to turn that outdated CrackBook into a brand new MacBook.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.

Our CrackBook's cracked screen

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.

Our CrackBook's hand rest

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.

Receipt from the exchange

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.

  • Barbarabalaban

    my macbook white 13 is cracked and you can not touch it cause it makes cracking sound on both sides and also when i close the lid it makes a cracking loud sound all i want is if they can not fix it then i have no idea i love my first macbook wish they could exchange and in the middle of the touch pad it is like a dent and some discoloring too

  • Nevin Kopp

    Hey, Im an owner of a crackbook as well. I have plenty of hairline cracks running across the air vent, and as i’m typing now my crackbook makes a sort of cheap plastic sound as if its being put under stress or something. Also the plastic above the IR receiver can peel off, not completely but it does expose the internals a bit. Is my crackbook legitimate enough for this process above? because I would enjoy the unibody version rather than a crackling crackbook.

  • Atemp

    I have lots of cracks in my Macbook.  I took it to geniuses and was told it would cost me $110 for them to repair.  It’s 5 years old so I’m not putting that kind of money into it.  I’d rather spend it on something else.
    In the meanwhile I placed a plastic label on the side that spells “CRACKED” over the biggest crack.  I figure I’m performing a public service calling attention to these wonderful notebooks and the Apple quality myth.

  • George Harris

    I read your article about exchanging my crackbook for a new macbook and decided to try it for myself! I have the 2008 version of the Macbook and I had it repaired a bunch of times for those SAME cracks in the top casing and around the bezel. So, I called apple support about it and it took a few times until I thought finally someone understood. Some advisors told me I couldn’t get a replacement because they don’t do it. 1 told me that the warranty only pertains to getting hardware fixed a bunch of times not cosmetic stuff like the plastic. Finally 1 Apple rep, after I explained to him about the warranty, said he would let me talk to a senior advisor but he just came back tot he phone and got my info. and told me that they would repair everything. So I decided to ask him if they would use the SAME plastic material that cracks easily and he told me “The way this program works is that they don’t replace the plastic, but just give you a new laptop.” That’s when I got excited. I sent in my macbook and got it back today. . . it was the SAME macbook, which was my own. All they did was fix the top casing. They didn’t even bother with the hairline cracks on the bottom casing. Furthermore, it wasn’t a new one! So I called apple support again, and they gave me the run around until 1 guy asks to see pics of the bottom casing. He sent me to apple yet again and they tried telling me the same stuff and the genius took pics and sent them back to the guy but when I tried calling the senior advisor back that sent me to apple, he never picked up. So I tried calling again and 1 guy asked me “Oh is this your replacement’s serial number?” and I told him that they didnt send the replacement. So he said “oh” and put me through to another senior advisor. THIS advisor told me the replacement was denied basically because the macbook wasn’t in enough beat up shape for it to qualify for the program. Then he told me they’ll repair the bottom casing and any other cracks. All these different advisors had conflicting stories. Some said there was no such program for replacement, some said they looked at the notes from my case and didn’t see where it was suppose to be replaced and the other said he saw it but it was denied. I’m not sure what to do now, because I have read the magnuson-moss warranty act and even apple’s warranty and it seems like it should be replaced without there having to be only hardware issues or to the discretion of apple themselves. I got names and things of the people I talked to and dealt with. The guy who said it would be replaced was named Jeff. I think they just don’t want to honor the warranty. Aren’t they goin against the warranty act? What should I do? Just send it in and let them fix the bottom cracking and leave it alone? Thnx!

  • Girl

    For past two years, my original macbook would show a X sign and would not charge at all. I dealt with the problem for one year..I had to take the power cord everywhere I went and my laptop would simply shut off If I accidentally unplugged the power cord. Along with the battery issue, I also had some cracks on the palm rest. So I took my laptop to the Genius Bar. They were going to fix all my issues for 280 dollars. I wanted my laptop to be fixed so I agreed to that amount and sent it in my laptop for repair. One week later, I get a call from genius bar saying that my laptop is fixed and the battery is working. So I go to the store just to find out that the laptop was not fixed.. the palm rest was replaced but the battery problem still persisted. So they kept my laptop again for a week and tried to work on it. One week later again I get a call from the store manager, he told me that they could not fix my laptop and told me that I would get a MACBOOK PRO as replacement. Thinking I would have to pay for 280 dollars, I go to the store just to find out that my repair charges have been waived. So basically, I walked out of the apple store with the latest Macbook Pro 13.3 inches. :) :) :) 

  • kool

    I have the same exact problem with the battery & all the cracks all over, do you think they would do the same for me….

  • Barbara Balaban

    so i take it to apple store anyway for a new f battery i have the faulty one and i willt ell them the cracking sound i can not touch it and see what they say cause i need to get things for macbbok there so will they exchange it 

  • Dzik W?saty

    Hey guys! I’ve just left my mid-2009 macbook 13″ (c2d 2.13ghz, 9400m) in Apple Authorised Service Provider in my city (Cracow, Poland). For the first time my macbook has been repaired (i mean topcase exchange) in 2009, just a few months after buing, but as you probably know it never solves the problem. I’ve lived with the cracks for the last 2 years, but then i came across your article :) I didn’t know I can demand replacing the topcase how many times it cracks, even without warranty. Now i’m just waiting for the cracks to expose to haund Apple again and then try to get the newer version, which would probably fulfil my need for the next 3 or four years, as i’m a OsX dev :)

  • Sh-Nay-Ah :P

    Some parts are easier than they sound. I took mine in to have the bottom casing replaced, and they thought I meant the keyboard. They did replace the entire screen area, and keyboard and mouse for free, and said even if it was not under applecare, they would do it. The bottom casing, however might have a “decent” chance for repair, but it was unlikely. I cleaned my mac today and noticed even more cracks in the bottom casing. 

    I always have it in a pouch, and padded, and never drop it or treat it poorly. I have researched this over and over and my best advice, if the cracks are minor hairline, live with them. If they are flat out falling apart, either really complain to the store (and they will replace the casing for yet another polycarb case) or trade it in. Mine are very minor but they still annoy me. The polycarb Macbooks run very well, and I love mine. But there is a reason they don’t make them anymore. The material is faulty. I am just going to buy a hard case for mine and some skin too, and keep it in one piece. I know my decal skin held it together, and prevented further damage and scratches. and the casing should protect it further. 

    Try either Moshi guards, Speck Cases, TOP case ie iPearl (on amazon fits older Early 2009 models) Zagg clear barriers, GelaSkins, DecalGirl, Decalsrus, even eBay knock off china deals and get something cheap. It’s best to just provide that cushion. I just wish I had done it before now.

  • Jessica Stamper

    I just took my Macbook 2007 model to the Apple store, and in two hours they replaced the screen bezel, trackpad, keyboard and bottom plastic that was cracked – for free. I’m impressed. Great deal. 

  • AdaliaSalomaa

    It does not matter how many times Apple “replaces” the cracked cases, the model is defective and the only solution is to replace/upgrade the model. I bought my Macbook in January of 2009 and had it replaced by Apple 3 times!!!- the last time in April 2010 when i begged them for a non defective model because I was moving to Israel the next month, their associates assured me that this time it would not crack again and that they have an Apple location in Israel. The following month I moved to Israel, and then the case cracked open again. When I contacted the “Apple” location here- it is not owned by Apple at all and they will not assist me without charge. I called Apple, emailed them for months. All of their reps lied to me- telling me that that if I sent them pictures of the cracks they would help (which I did and did not receive a response). Then they told me to bring the laptop back to America and they will replace the case. I told them that it is obvious that replacing the case is not a solution and just a band-aide. That they should have recalled this model and they need to either A. Work it out with the Israeli Apple repair store to pay them to upgrade my laptop, or B. Send me a new laptop. APPLE is absolutely corrupt as far as I am concerned. If anyone knows of a class action lawsuit that I can join for the MacBook 2009 model with cracked case please email me at JUSTICE must be done.