Tuesday, November 26, 2013

AppleCare or...should you or shouldn't you?

Although I am not a big believer in extended warranties, in the case of my computers and devices, I make an exception. Unfortunately, components break, hard drives fail, and things don’t last the way they used to. But you do have some choices in not only where you buy the extended warranty, but whether or not you buy one from Apple. There are other companies that provide extended warranties and there are some extreme differences in both what they cover, what features are available, the cost of each incident, and the amount of incidents that are allowed. You do have choices, and often, AppleCare is not the best one.

 First let's talk about what AppleCare does and doesn't cover. Any new computer that you buy from Apple comes with a one-year warranty including manufacturer’s defect, Genius Bar and phone support. With this warranty, if you have trouble with your email six months after your purchase, you can call AppleCare and they'll talk you through troubleshooting. If your hard drive goes bad, you can make an appointment with the genius bar or, and I'll explain this later, any Apple certified repair business. Now when you buy something that costs as much as an Apple computer does, you would think that it would remain trouble-free for at least 3 to 5 years. If that was the case, I certainly would be out of business. There are so many components inside that very small case, that hard drive failures, and even more serious ones like logic board failures are not uncommon. And oftentimes these failures happen more than a year after purchase. Do you have to spend $249 to buy AppleCare for that MacBook Air? Absolutely not. You can find the same warranty at other online retailers, like B and H Photo for $176.19. You can also buy AppleCare up to a year after your purchase.

But there is a big difference between the warranty that Apple offers, and the one offered by Square Trade, another warranty company, that gets rave reviews from publications and consumers. For a little more ($299 for laptops up to $1499), Square Trade offers hardware repairs (either by sending in to them,or by going to the Genius Bar or any Apple Certified shop), replacement and accidental damage coverage. Spill some coffee on your Mac? That will void your Apple warranty, but no problem with Square Trade.  You do not get extended phone support, which for many consumers is a deal breaker. You can also check your homeowners insurance, as some are now offering a low deductible on computers.

Another thing that many consumers do not know, is that you can have warranty work done at ANY Apple Certified Repair shop. And I have had many instances of problems missed by the Genius Bar, and beautifully fixed by another repair shop. Apple requires repair business to be reviewed every 90 days to keep their certification, so check Yelp reviews for your local CERTIFIED repair shop.

The same choices apply to warranties for iPhones, iPads, and now iPods. AppleCare Plus, $99, covers manufacturer defects AND customer caused accidental damage, up to 2 incidents for $79 co-pay for each for 2 years from purchase. Square Trade offers for $124 (usually $94, since there are always coupons and sales), the same coverage but up to 4 incidents, for $99 an incident.  All of my equipment is insured through Square Trade.  And when my iPhone 4S was part of a freak accident, the advised me to go into the Apple Store, have it replaced, and send them the receipt. Within about a week I got a check for the cost minus my deductible. Okay, here's what happened. I had my iPhone on the arm of a chair on my deck. I was cutting mats out of my old cat Sarah's fur, and my dog Luca, came out to see what was happening. He stuck his nose in the cat's face, she stuck her claws in his nose,  I jumped up and the iPhone went flying into my rainwater bucket.

By the way, check back here for good deals this week! I will post the best ones that flood into my inbox.

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