Should I Buy AppleCare?
It’s a question I’m asked often by people who want advice about buying a computer. And the answer is not a simple one. For many, the answer is absolutely not. For others, it’s absolutely yes. What makes the difference? This short post will cover the basics.
What is AppleCare?
AppleCare is an extended warranty that lengthens the manufacturer’s warranty on computer hardware from one year to three years and technical support from 90 days to three years. It must be purchased while your computer is still under its standard one year limited warranty.
How much does AppleCare cost?
The cost of Applecare varies depending on the device it will cover:
- $149 – Mac Mini
- $169 – iMacs
- $249 – 13″ MacBook Air and 13″ MacBook Pro
- $349 – 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pro
What does AppleCare cover?
That’s the important question with any extended warranty. Let me say first that I have never been anything but impressed with Apple’s service and support. They are consistently rated tops by third party reviewers, and there’s a reason for that. Apple takes care of their customers.
Now here’s the down side…
AppleCare only covers defective hardware. If your display quits. It’s covered. If you drop your computer and your display cracks, it’s not. If your logic board dies, it’s covered. If your logic board dies because it got a drink of your morning latte, it’s not. Get the picture?
Accidental damage is not covered by Applecare. Neither is cosmetic damages (including scratches on the screen), failure of consumable parts (like batteries), anything related to a power surge, or normal wear and tear (like a tired keyboard).
If you have those problems, the repair is on you… even if you shelled out big bucks up front for AppleCare. You can read the legalese about that on Apple’s web site here.
And here’s a little secret…
Many people don’t know about a service Apple offers called Depot Repair. And if they did, I think far fewer people would purchase AppleCare. Last week, I took an old white MacBook into the local Apple Store. The logic board is dead. That part alone is a few hundred bucks not including labor. But not only that, the superdrive is gone and the battery has long since stopped taking a charge.
For the flat rate of $289, Apple is repairing anything that is wrong with the computer (note: it might be more or less for other items, you’ll have to check with Apple). In a week, I’ll have a bright shiny new MacBook with a new logic board, new battery, new superdrive and new anything else they decide to replace.
So why would I get AppleCare?
That’s the question that was in my mind when I walked out of the Apple Store last week. If I can spend $289 and get all of those things fixed, why would I spend money on AppleCare that I might never use? In my opinion, there are only two scenarios in which AppleCare makes a lot of sense…
The first is technical support. If you are an Apple newbie who is going to need a lot of hand holding, buy Apple Care. You just don’t get better phone support than Apple offers. They really are fantastic. And, on a side note, if you are a technical person like me who ends up being the designated tech guy for family members, you should always strongly encourage the purchase of AppleCare if for no other reason than to stop your phone from ringing (as much).
The second reason is paranoia. If you are afraid that your computer might have two or more catastrophic failures within a three year period that would necessitate a Depot Repair, get AppleCare so you can sleep well. But honestly, Apple’s machines are so well-built that the likelihood of this happening is very minimal. And, statistically, most computers that are going to fail will do so in the first 30 days of use.
So there you have it. One man’s take on the pros and cons of AppleCare. I’m sure there are other issues I’ve missed in this discussion and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!