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While Maintenance is Currently Done… July 29, 2009

Posted by Steven in gadgets.
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… One should prepare for the next possible issue.

Innenleben Eines MacBooks

Background: I have recently had my fairly new Unibody MacBook Pro (2000+ USD) repaired. It showed the weird nine beeps issue. I was very concerned about the whole topic. First of all it is a very new machine and I always thought Apple builds very reliable devices. Turns out my MBP was not reliably at all. Second concern was the service processes in Germany. Currently there is only one Apple Retail Store (with Geniuses) in Germany. There – I imagine – you do get excellent support. All the rest of us have to go to Authorized Apple Service Providers. Usually these guys have a fairly low margin on Apple products and they focus on selling them – not on after sales support / fixing issues. So I had to wait 2 weeks until my precious MBP returned repaired.

My motivation for this post are the following thoughts:
Some of us gadget fans still seem to believe that there are good brands and bad brans. Brands and companies that deliver quality products that last forever. I believe in today’s world this is wrong. There is an incredible pressure on margins (financial) and the competition on the consumer electronics market is incredibly tight. Almost all (even the quality brands) companies use external manufacturers in China or other “low cost” locations. So in essence: Even if you spent 2000+ USD on a consumer electronics device you must be prepared that this device will eventually fail. Also you must be prepared that this device may not even last 2years.

I believe this is a strange and dissatisfactory statement but it is fact. So from my perspective there are two things we need to do: fight for better quality and service in general and prepare for the day when issues occur and a device may need to be repaired / replaced.

For the latter consequence I have summarized some tasks that I find useful:

  • One cannot stress it to often: backup your data! Harddrives fail, PCs fail, iPods fail, Macs fail… And how big would be your regret if you loose your precious MP3 collection? Nowadays multiple backups are the way to go. Backup important files / mails / Links to the cloud. And store your files on external harddrives, time machines or whatever else is available.
  • Know your devices: It is important to know what you buy / what you rely upon in your daily technology usage. Depending on the type of device you should ask yourself a number of questions: What is inside? How common are the parts? Are they easy to replace? How is the warranty situation? What do I have to do to maintain the device (cleaning)?
    I particularly find the guides on iFixit.com useful. They showed me what I can replace myself on my MBP and how complicated it really is to repair essential parts: http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook-Pro-15-Inch-Unibody/590/3
  • Understand the warranty: Warranty is a service provided / sold with the device. It is not mandatory in no way. Lots of companies have complicated warranty agreements. In many cases it is worth to check at least some aspects of those. Also ask yourself: Do I need to extend the warranty? Do you want to sell the device after 1 or two years? Or do you really need 3 years of reliable service from the device (then extending the warranty might make sense..)
  • Prepare to ask the right questions: Now if we have done all of the above correctly – then we have backups.. we have a fairly reliable device with good warranty and so on. Still: The day may come and the device fails. I think it is very important to remain calm. Prepare for the whole (cumbersome and maybe even annoying fixing process): Make pictures of the device. Take the original bill. Prepare correct packaging. Find out the phone numbers of the support guys. And: Ask the right questions: How long will it take? Can you get a replacement? When they need to order parts – can you take your device and just bring it when the parts arrived? Can you see the status somewhere? How will they make sure that nothing is being scratched etc.? Who is the store / support manager? When they tell you eventually you have to pay if the issue was ‘your fault’ – ask what that means? What are the criteria for that? As mentioned in : know your devices:  If you look at the internals you may find that many devices nowadays have sensors.. sensors if they have been dropped, if liquids have entered the devices and so on. Know that before to really make the right choices for the fixing process.
  • Keep your Model Information:
    • MB471xx/A
    • MacBookPro5,1
    • MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2008)
    • 15.4″/D2.53G/4G/320/SD-DL
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