Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Repairing by Replacing

Luke Tully (via Hacker News):

To be clear, the vast majority of my experiences with Apple Support have been pretty good. Sometimes it takes a little bit of work, but I’ve generally ended up better off than before with few exceptions. This was the single most dissapointing interaction I’ve had with any tech support rep as far as I can recall. The numbers Joe suggested in this conversation are either entirely fabricated, or belong to the cost of replacing the entire machine if its experienced catastrophic damage. But, after clarifying numerous times about what the numbers actually represent and comparing to previous repair bills for the same issue, my belief is that the rep used a false and obscured repair order to persuade me to replace my girlfriend’s minimally damaged screen with a new computer.

For decades, my experience with Apple hardware was that it was very reliable. Sometimes an issue would crop up in the first year or so and get fixed under warranty. After that, it would essentially keep working “forever.”

Lately, I’ve had bad luck, with issues appearing after AppleCare has expired. My iPad mini and iPhone SE both swelled so that the display separated from the case. Apple’s support advised that this was probably due to the battery, so the devices were not safe to use. But the costs to repair, even though I consider this a defect rather than user error, were almost as much as buying a new device.

The display of my Mac, which has never left my desk, is also detaching from the case. I doubt there is a safety issue, though, so I just keep using it.


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Really weird pricing from Apple. My partner and another friend both had their MacBook Pro battery replaced for less than C$300 out of warranty— the price included replacing the deformed enclosure from the battery bulge. Sucks that the iPad battery costs more

I have had two MBPs with issues over the year. One issue was caught while Apple was still doing repairs under and extended warranty (the blackscreen with NVidia GPUs) and the second one started exhibiting the problem there the display starts flashing and not appearing stable. I didn’t notice it for a long time because I mostly used the laptop as a desktop with an external monitor and the lid closed. By the time that problem came up it was no longer under warranty to repair. Just as well since it is also old enough now (Early 2013) to not be able to receive the new Big Sur update coming soon.

1. Most of the decent, or free repair gesture are from US Apple Retail. i.e Those sort of good support only came from US. But internet is running with those story. Stepping outside of US, the % dropped rapidly in UK, Canada, Australia, and worst outside of those countries.

2. Some Apple Support and Retail Outside US ( I am not sure if US has it ) had their KPI to include selling services and machines. ( Yes you read that right ). No longer was the old days of Steve Jobs Apple. Genius are expected to sell you AppleCare +, or push a repair to buy a new MacBook. These incentives changes happened little by little over the years. So I am not entirely sure who is it to blame.
Apple ( or at least Apple's Fans ) used to pride themselves Apple Retail stuff dont operate with Commission. May be true in US, no longer true World Wide.

3. Apple also hide the cost to repair. Or Mask it. As they told to senators they operate at a loss with Apple Repairing. That is a spin you could never prove. But any realistic number crushing would know they are spinning it ( May be not lying, but definitely spinning ).

4. You can tell by the resell value of your MacBook Pro. I wish someone had the time to do a trend, of Pre 2015 MacBook Pro and Post 2015 MacBook Pro.

Most of the decent, or free repair gesture are from US Apple Retail. i.e Those sort of good support only came from US. But internet is running with those story. Stepping outside of US, the % dropped rapidly in UK, Canada, Australia, and worst outside of those countries.


Culturally, Apple is a bit too US-centric for my taste; sometimes even too Always On Vacation In California-specific.

However, my experiences with Apple Support in Germany have been quite good?

The 2017 MacBook Pro I got from work developed a bloated battery. Apple "repaired" it under warranty by effectively replacing the whole computer. The screen is the same, but the keyboard is definitely new, so I'm guessing they replaced the whole bottom half of the device.

@Lukas That's exactly what they did. My 2016 MBP had the same problem with the bloated battery. (Every test iPhone at work has developed this problem as well; what are we/they doing wrong?) The MacBook's battery, keyboard, and trackpad are all one big glued-together component.

When mine was replaced, they also apparently identified an unspecified TouchID issue and replaced the logic board, so I really did get essentially a new computer which is a huge hassle for software & service licensing purposes. And the repair depot "Updated to latest version of OS" except they didn't (theirs was older), so my SuperDuper! backup couldn't be restored until I created a new account and updated first, which added an hour to my restore time.

The Apple I loved is very much gone.

>what are we/they doing wrong?

I think one major reason is keeping devices plugged in for long times if they don't have some kind of protection against that. I've always had my Macs plugged in on my desk almost 100% of the time. Every single Mac I've bought in the last decade has developed a bloated battery.

Catalina 10.15.5 supposedly protects against destroying batteries that way, so fingers crossed that the fixed MacBook Pro I have now won't develop the same issue in two to three years.

Catalina 10.15.5 supposedly protects against destroying batteries that way

Catalina (and iOS 12.something-ish?) tries to reduce battery wear.

Suppose you often:

1) bring your laptop home
2) charge it over night, to 100%
3) use it on your commute, discharging it to ~80%
4) plug it in in the office, charging it to 100% again

That introduces a needless charging cycle. Instead, in that scenario, macOS will now try:

1) bring your laptop home
2) connect it (but macOS will now not charge it at all as long as it’s at around 80%)
3) use it on your commute, discharging it to ~60%
4) plug it in in the office, charging it to 100% again

This removes the pointless cycle at step 2.

(There’s additional complexity here, with how LiIo batteries charge non-linearly, i.e. charging the last 20% is a lot harder than the first 80%.)

This presumably doesn’t help with bulging, though.

>This presumably doesn’t help with bulging, though.

One thing that seems to contribute to bloated batteries is if they're fully charged, and remain plugged in, for long periods of time. In my case at least, 100% of devices that developed bloated batteries were used in that way. Some of my coworkers had the same happen with their MacBooks, and they also had them plugged in pretty much constantly. And since the iPhones Dave mentions are work test devices, they might also end up being plugged in for long periods of time.

iFixit mentions "leaving your battery 100% charged or completely empty for a long period of time" as a potential cause on their bloated battery page.

Many Windows laptops had had overcharge protection for a long time, where you could tell the device "this is plugged in a lot", at which point the device would only charge the battery to about 70%, and leave it there. From what I've seen, Catalina's battery protection does the same thing: if it detects that a device is plugged in at all times, it reduces how much it will charge the battery.

So this should help prevent bloated batteries.

Strange. They replaced the swollen battery on my out of warranty iPhone X for free.

I totally didn’t expect that. I just walked into the Apple Store and asked how much it would cost to fix.

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