Twenty-three days ago my MacBook Pro crashed. Since my computer was out of warranty I decided to take it to the Mac Shack in Fort Collins rather than the Apple Store. I figured that it would be cheaper and it was also closer to my house. I wanted to give an honest review of my experience with the Mac Shack so that if you find yourself in a similar situation you can make an informed decision. This post is kind of long and boring, so the excerpt is this: It took a long time (three weeks) to get my computer back but the price was good. If you care for more details, read on…
Once I knew something very serious was wrong with my MacBook, the first thing I did was visit the Mac Shack website. Compared to the Apple website, the Mac Shack’s website looks, well, kind of like a PC. (I would love to redesign the Mac Shack’s website, but that’s a whole other story.) So, I got the phone number from the website and gave them a call. I talked to someone from the Boulder store who was very helpful. I explained the problem with my computer being stuck in a startup chime loop. He said it could be a logic board issue, a diagnosis that turned out to be correct. He recommended that I have them send the computer to Apple for me because they have an “Apple Mail-In Service” where they will fix anything for $399 if your computer is in good condition. Since a replacement logic board replacement typically costs over $1000 it is a great deal.
So I took my 17-inch MacBook Pro to the Fort Collins Mac Shack on Wednesday, March 11. I talked to the manager C.J. and he also confirmed that it could be a logic board issue, but said he would run some tests before he sent it to Apple. The Mac Shack employees look like they could be stand-ins for the “Mac” guy on the commercials. That’s not a diss necessarily, I just think it is just kind of funny. Compared to the tightly branded robots you get at the Apple store it is a noticeable contrast.
Anyway, I had to agree to pay $79 for labor for them to diagnose the problem. He explained that this would go towards the repair if I decide to have Mac Shack fix the problem. I left my laptop with C.J. expecting to get a call from him on Thursday or Friday with a diagnosis of the problem.
At this point in my review I should mention that I am what you might call a “squeaky wheel.” I am not rude or anything, but I will call to get an update every day and closely monitor the progress of repairs. So that’s what I did. By the time I got my computer back, I was on a first name basis with C.J. and Sky, the other person who was working on my laptop. They were patient and responsive overall, despite how long it took to get my computer back.
I called on Thursday and was told my computer hadn’t been looked at yet. I called on Friday and was told the same thing. They said they might work on it on Saturday even though they typically don’t work on the weekend. They must be really busy. I called on Monday and my computer was supposedly on the list to be looked at in the afternoon. I called at the end of the day and they had supposedly started looking at my computer. The next day I called again and the problem was still unknown. On Wednesday I was told that the problem was either the logic board or the left IO board. I am not sure what that part was, but since it was much cheaper than a new logic board it was worth a try. Mac Shack ordered the part and I was back to waiting.
I continued to call daily and I think they must have started to recognize my number because I would get put on hold and the Mac Shack would never come back. Another time it sounded like they picked up the phone and then hung up. When the part arrived, they replaced it but I was told it didn’t fix the problem. They advised me to send it to Apple. I had the option of letting Mac Shack backup my data or risk Apple reinstalling the system and wiping out everything. I had a Time Machine backup that was about a month old, so I saved the $100 it would have cost for the backup. If I remember correctly, this was March 20, so it was about ten days from the time I dropped my computer off.
With my computer in Apple’s hands, I still called daily to check on the status of my order. Again I was put on hold quite a bit and was hung up on once more. Finally Apple updated their status on my machine to say that they had ordered a new logic board. That seems strange, as you would think Apple would keep most parts in stock. On April 1 I was told that my computer had arrived and I could pick it up. Luckly, this wasn’t an April fool’s joke.
The total time it took was 21 days. That seems like a long time, but there is good news. The total cost for the replacement of the logic board was $426. This is the cost of Apple’s mail-in service plus tax. That may seem like a lot, but I was not charged for Mac Shack’s time to diagnose the problem. If I had paid for a new logic board it would have been well over $1000. Additionally, I was not charged for the labor or parts when Mac Shack replaced my left IO board. My bill could easily have been $1500 or more. Another way to put that in perspective, the cost of AppleCare (Apple’s extended warranty) would have cost me over $349 for one year. You get a year warranty with the computer, if I remember correctly, and AppleCare would kick in when that runs out. My computer was almost two years old, So I would be about ready to pay another $349 in a couple months. Luckily, I never buy warranties. My advice is don’t buy Apple’s warranty (or any warrantee for that matter). Instead, put that money aside in case the unlikely happens and your logic board fails. Take it to Mac Shack and have them send it to Apple for you. It will save you in the long run. That is of course if you can afford to be without your laptop for three weeks. Man, that was tough…