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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > AppleCare Service Quality?

AppleCare Service Quality?
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Oct 6, 2006, 02:18 PM
 
I posted a couple weeks ago about purchasing a Mac Pro for an architectural practice. Despite the extra costs, I'm pretty much decided this is the route to take for the stability and security of the OS.

I have a question about AppleCare. With my several Dells, a technician always came on-site within 1-2 days (at my convenience) to do the repair, or they shipped replacement parts (or an entire replacement system) next-day for me to install. I thought this was excellent service generally, although it had become worse with my last ill-fated system, and this is one reason I want to switch. However, can anyone speak to the quality of AppleCare service? The nearest Apple Store and the nearest Authorized Service Provider are 2 1/2 hours and 1 1/2 hours away, respectively, and I do not want to have to schlep my system there to be repaired. Apple's website is vague as to whether it provides on-site service or you have to take the computer to a service center. Many posts here seem to indicate that people have taken their systems to a service center. Can anyone speak to Apple's ability to provide on-site service and the general quality of Applecare? Is it worth the extra cost?

Thanks!
     
Mac Elite
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Oct 6, 2006, 03:44 PM
 
First things first... I think AppleCare (APP, AppleCare Protection Plan) is really worth it. It's cheap insurance (especially on a MacPro) for if anything goes wrong. The cost is pretty much equal to the cheapest possible thing that may break. If a hard disk or a optical drive goes out, it'll pay for itself. If you have anything else go bad (Logic board, processors, power supply) APP will pay for itself many, many times over.

Apple really does try its best to take care of your problems. Almost everyone is really pleased with their quick and efficient service. For things that are user-installable (like hard drives, optical drives, etc) you'll get similar mail service of parts as you're used to with Dell. Bigger problems would require you to take the machine to a service center. There are many third party, Apple-certified service centers all over. I'm sure there's probably one in your town. AppleCare will pay for any repairs that they do for you. The quality of service they provide is up to the third party though, so perhaps it's wise to see what organizations are available in your area. If you NEED onsite service, apple is probably able to hook you up with an apple certified consultant, or you could go with a business level service plan.

All in all, I'd say that go for the MacPro and get AppleCare. It's a wise choice and it's cheap piece of mind. Apple has plenty of support options outside of the Apple Retail stores, so I wouldn't let that keep me from my the MacPro.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

ImpulseResponse
     
ionic  (op)
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Oct 6, 2006, 04:20 PM
 
Thanks for the recommendations, GSixZero. I was always planning to get the AppleCare, but unfortunately the nearest carry-in-service center (not Apple Store) is an hour and a half away. It's BlueRidgeMac . I've heard good things about their service tech, but their management is extremely difficult to work with according to people I know. That's why I was wondering whether Apple offers on-site service with AppleCare, which would require a minimal work disruption.
     
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Oct 6, 2006, 07:43 PM
 
Apple used to list a mileage limit on their website for on-site support of desktops (for notebooks it's always mail-in or carry-in)... I think it was within 50 miles of an Apple Store. Beyond that you need to schlep it in yourself.

That said, I wouldn't buy a Mac without it. The phone support is only 90 days without the 3 year AppleCare extension.
     
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Oct 6, 2006, 11:29 PM
 
Well BlueRidgeMac is listed as an onsite service provider (Apple: Find Service: Search Page) so maybe they'll come out if they need you to. I don't know the ins and outs of Apple's onsite service policies, but asking BlueRidgeMac about it might give you some additional insight.

ImpulseResponse
     
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Oct 7, 2006, 10:53 AM
 
We use Apple's extensively in our company (defense contractor and software engineering firm). We buy AppleCare with every machine and we feel that it is completely worth the cost.

That being said, we've never received on-site care, and I'm pretty sure that it is not available. Broken laptops are shipped overnight to Apple (apple mails us an empty box and a DHL label). We don't have any apple desktops (all laptops, minis + xserves).

We have learnt from experience to always carry spare equipment. In other words we keep spare laptops in standby in case an assigned laptop is sent out for repair (which takes anywhere from one week for minor repair to 3 weeks for major repairs).

I would highly recommend keeping spare machines on stand by as I don't think you will get on-site support. Off course, having centralised daily backups of all machines via Restrospect is a must for this plan to work.

Lastly, our support costs have plunged with the use of Apples. Lot less to maintain, and any extra costs are easily recovered in the lifetime of the machine.
     
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Oct 7, 2006, 07:15 PM
 
Applecare is outstanding. I bought a macbook recently and had the discoloration on the palm rest and i had the machine back in my possesion in 3 days. Then I had to take it back because the smc firmware update for the fan bricked the machine and i had it back in my hands 5 days later. And on the latter they replaced the logic board and cpu which are almost as much as a new laptop. Ived owned other brands in the past and their service was no where near as good as applecare. MBs and MBPs are the only laptops i will ever buy or recommend from now on.
     
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Oct 7, 2006, 09:36 PM
 
I've heard both good and bad regarding apple care and PowerBook repairs. For one I've heard stories where Apple store employees refused to service a PowerBook beacuse it had a tent in it even though they had no proof what so ever linking the "dent" to whatever was wrong with the powerbook. I also paritally blame Apple for using such a non durable material for the PowerBook/Mac Book Pro cases iBook and Mac Books alike don't dent because plastic is more durable.
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Mac Elite
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Oct 8, 2006, 12:30 AM
 
My Apple Care experience is that it is definitely worth the money, but be prepared to push hard to get desireable results. My G5 dual 2.5 just started freezing randomly 1.5 years after buying it. A 3 hour phone conversation featuring extensive testing on my part with a tech guy on the line resulted in the recommendation that I bring it to the Apple Store on 5th Ave. in NYC. After 2 weeks there, I was asked to come in to pick it up. But the testing they had done was not thorough and it continued to exhibit the same random freezing behavior. I was livid when I learned that the process of sending somebody to my home office would take a WEEK to schedule, so I brought it right back in. Three days later, I got my machine back with replaced logic board, processors, graphics card, and hard drive. And I brought it home.... and it was fine for a day..... and then it stopped turning on. I took a chill pill and waited 8 business days for a home office repair that once again replaced every part listed above, PLUS the power supply. Problem solved. And Apple gave me $100 worth of software for my trouble because it was so clear to everyone involved that they had bungled my case.

Repair costs exceeded three thousand dollars, and were all covered by my $249.00 Apple Care purchase 1.5 years ago. So it was definitely worth it. But don't expect smooth sailing.

Also, my main lesson learned was that if you rely on a Mac for professional results, get two production machines so that you're never down. I had no idea my issues would drag on the way they did and was lucky not to have urgent client deadlines, though I was definitely under pressure once I got my machine back. Some places (maybe Tekserve?) offer a replacement machine while you're machine is being fixed. Apple does not/will not offer this service.
Liberty lover since birth. Mac devotee since 1986.
     
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Oct 8, 2006, 05:01 AM
 
From this website: <http://www.apple.com/support/products/proplan.html> it would seem that they do onsite repairs for desktops. However, there is a footnote that says it is not available in all sites, so you might want to call apple and ask them if you are in a location that will do an onsite repair.
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ionic  (op)
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Oct 8, 2006, 09:57 PM
 
Thanks for the input guys. I spoke with an Apple representative who indicated that they would provide on-site service if necessary, although they may send components (hard drive, optical drive, keyboard, etc.) for me to replace myself. This is ok for me. I do have another PC desktop I can use when in desperate straits, but I can't justify purchasing two Macs right now when one would just sit on the shelf most of the time. Maybe when my 6-year-old IBM ThinkPad dies or becomes too slow to use, I'll buy a MacBook. Just for future reference, according to the representative, no Mac portables are eligible for on-site service, but desktops are.
     
ionic  (op)
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Oct 9, 2006, 02:58 AM
 
Ok, finally ordered a Mac Pro. Definitely the most expensive system I've bought in a long, long time.

2 x 2.66 GHz
2 GB RAM
GeForce 7300
160 GB HDD
SuperDrive
Bluetooth+Airport
23" Cinema Display
AppleCare

I plan to transfer an DVD burner and a 160 GB HDD from my dead Dell, so I'll end up with the equivalent of two SuperDrives and 2 x 160 GB HDD.
     
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Oct 9, 2006, 06:31 AM
 
Sweet. Congrats. Can I come over and play?

ImpulseResponse
     
   
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