Wednesday, April 18, 2018 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Apple Refuses to Repair iMac Pro

Linus Tech Tips (forum, Hackers News, Reddit):

We broke our iMac Pro… But then we tried to pay Apple to repair it. They refused. Come with us on a journey of frustration…

It sounds like they dropped the display while trying to install RAM, which you are supposed to have Apple install for you. (Or perhaps they just wanted to take internal photos for their review?) So this clearly voided the free initial year of AppleCare. However, they are in a bind because Apple won’t let them pay to have it repaired, either, but neither will it make it possible for a third-party repair shop to do so.

Paul Haddad:

Thinking of upgrading the RAM in your iMac Pro yourself? Think again…

Colin Cornaby:

I know they were taking theirs apart for a review, but there is just a possibility that I accidentally put something into the screen and crack it. And apparently if you do that Apple can’t do anything...

Steve Streza:

Oof, this is an awful support response for a $5,000 pro computer.

Marco Arment:

It’s more complicated than that — it appears that they just won’t fix it if someone other than Apple has opened it up and worked on it, even if the customer is willing to pay full price for Apple to work on it.

Which is shitty. But that’s not the same as “They can’t fix it!”

Stephen Sullivan:

This has been the case since at least late 90s, but probably always. If Apple can tell that an unauthorized service provider has opened the computer before, then they deny service.

Max Temkin:

This was just in the news. The FTC sent a letter to companies with “warranty void if seal broken” stickers, which are illegal[…]

Marco Arment:

Based on replies, it sounds like normal customers who don’t completely take apart their iMac Pro and mess with the internals have no issues getting warranty repairs from Apple.

This video was very much not that.

Previously: Apple Sued an Independent iPhone Repair Shop Owner and Lost, An Apple Support Experience, The iMac Pro.

Update (2018-04-20): See also: John Gruber, MacRumors, Rene Ritchie.

9 Comments

I just ordered a Razer Blade today. I'm so over this stuff.

Marco's missing something: Even if it is "they can't fix it", that's what Apple themselves told them. There are transcripts in the video itself. Those representatives were either getting bad information or (being led to be) dishonest about the real reason.

iMac Pro is ostensibly a pro product. Performance-wise, it seems reasonable enough, and Linus's review was very level-headed as those things go, with apt comparisons for what the realistic alternative for the intended audience would have been. But a pro product is going to go through things normal customer products don't, and be subject to time pressures normal customer products don't. There's a reason people want modularity - so they can fix shit themselves, with stocked parts, without shipping it all to Ireland or Monkey's Eyebrow, Kentucky, and those reasons are especially relevant for pro work.

iMac Pro is a good product in the happy case, but the intersection of their support policy and design decisions makes this a problem entirely of their own making.

Do we know what the policy is when AppleCare+ (i.e. accidental damage coverage) is in effect?

The policy issue that's brought up is real. As an iMac Pro owner (who has no desire to open it up, but is otherwise a tinkerer on other platforms, and has watched many Linus videos) I'm somewhat concerned with how this went down.

That said, there's some *really big things* wrong with this video as well that make me unsympathetic to Linus' cause, and loses me as a fan of his.

1. The sparks and sound effects were faked. That's just bullshit.

2. I don't think anyone's pointed this out yet but the machine looks like it was plugged in, based on the elevated cord going to the machine visible in the first few seconds of the clip. If so, that's a *huge* red flag and not something that a repair tech 'occasionally messes up'. It's also likely the reason he shorted everything.

3. In addition to probably having it plugged in, the repair tech didn't even follow the repair guide on how to fix it - the machine is standing up rather than laid down. He wouldn't have dropped the part if he did the repair right. What else did he mess up? iFixit has a great repair guide for the very similar 27" iMac - https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+27-Inch+EMC+2546+Display+Replacement/15641

4. Throughout the video the viewer is left with the impression the screen is the one part that needs to be replaced. Only very briefly in passing deep into the video it's mentioned that the logic board and the PSU are also fried. Put together that's like 90% of the value of the machine that is broken, given that the drives and RAM are electrically connected to the logic board. Any other connected components are probably suspect at well. When you break everything of value in a computer, I don't see it as particularly problematic that the repair facility cannot replace your parts, let alone certify that the rest of them won't also be messed up in some way in the future (which would then go through warranty repair). My sense is the about-face from Apple was due to discovering the damage was worse than was worth repairing.

It's weird you can't just buy components off the shelf for a machine, but not that weird if its a new machine. That's the only thing I'd say could be concerning if it continues after these machines are out of warranty.

The conclusion I draw from watching the video is that there's some level of misrepresentation of the facts going on. I understand being upset about it, and it does sound like Apple needs to improve some aspect of their servicing, but I don't think that is the fundamental issue *in this particular case*. While the video tries to show an innocuous screw up, the reality is the whole machine is toast because they badly botched a repair, and is unlikely to be worth salvaging regardless. If this were another machine, and it were done under circumstances that warranted a repair, Apple would just replace the whole machine. However, if you intentionally break all the valuable components in your computer, well at some point you just need to get a new one.

@Nick My interpretation was that the video with effects was a dramatic recreation. It may not have been in that position or plugged in when the actual damage occurred. In any case, I agree that we don’t seem to be getting the full story. It’s not clear to me even what Linus is saying happened.

> that make me unsympathetic to Linus' cause

This is a topic entirely independent of the problem with Apple's behavior, though.

> My sense is the about-face from Apple was due to discovering the damage was worse than was worth repairing

Then Apple should just quote the price it costs to replace the broken parts, and let the device owner decide whether it's worth it to them, instead of just refusing to fix it.

Unless Linus outright *lied* about what Apple told them, I don't see any reason for defending Apple here.

Years back I took an iBook SE Paris model into the Apple Store to be repaired for a bad DVD player (known problem, repaired under warranty). My screen was clearly damaged by the Apple Store during the repair process. I mentioned this to them since there were no notes in their file about a small hole in the screen when I took it in for repair, but clearly I had one now....it was tiny....so I can see how they missed it....looked like a fleck of dust. They wouldn't budge on fixing it on their dime and the blemish was very small, so I asked about paying for a repair out of pocket....yes, I was pretty stupid not to push Apple to fix it.

Here's the thing, I was quoted $1000 for the repair....yeah, that's right, a brand new iBook was $1000 at the time. Sure, Apple made some mistakes in my case, not fixing for free, quoting an absurdly high repair cost. However, to their credit, Apple still offered to make the repair, even while agreeing purchasing a replacement was more economical.

Have things really changed so much that Apple would refuse to make the repair at all???? This is strange.

Lukas,
Yep, quote the price, possibly give your expert opinion, but it's up to the customer surely.

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