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Big changes for AppleCare on Laptops, Desktops

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Apple’s extended warranty program went through a major change for MacBooks at WWDC back in June. Though Apple didn’t give it much fanfare, the AppleCare Protection Plan got renamed AppleCare + and now includes accidental damage protection. If you bought a MacBook within the past 60 days you’ll need to act now if you want protection.

How AppleCare Protection Plan (APP) Used to Work

When you bought a MacBook, you had up to one year to buy the extended warranty.  It covered manufacturing defects and hardware failure but excluded any accidental damage.  If you dropped it, you were out of luck.  Of course, if they couldn’t detect an accident, they’d sometimes cover the repair.

You could buy your APP from any source and then just “attach” it to your Apple serial number.  That meant you could buy it from a cheaper third-party source or even eBay.  That feature was great if you had a gift card somewhere or tried to play a credit-card points game.

Applecare

Photo by Andrew*

I liked the buy-later feature because it let me spread my spending a bit.  For my business, I’d buy the laptop in one fiscal year and then buy protection in the next.  I bought a refurbished MacBook right after the WWDC announcement and learned the hard way I can’t easily do this under Apple’s new guidelines.

How AppleCare + Works Now

With the discontinuation of APP, Apple’s now covering water damage and screen cracks.  These calamities are a common mishap laptops face.  This type of insurance makes it more in line with third party offerings, similar to that of iPhone insurance.

If you damage the screen under AppleCare + the repair costs you a $99 deductible.  All other damage is a $299 deductible. That’s a huge saving from actual repair costs, which are typically 50% the value of the computer.  Under APP, if you got your screen fixed by a third-party, your extended warranty with Apple was void.  Applecare + keeps your full warranty intact but saves you money.

These changes apply to Apple desktop computers like the iMac and MacMini.  You’re unlikely to damage the screen on either of those, but drops and water spills are still possible.

Why You Can’t Wait to Buy AppleCare +

With this new feature of AppleCare +, Apple probably noticed a loophole.  If you damaged your MacBook within the first year, you could just buy AppleCare + and get it covered.  Not so fast!

Apple has some new rules with AppleCare +.  If you don’t buy it with your Mac, Apple says you need to either run a remote diagnostic or bring it to an Apple Store for inspection.  You must do either within 60 days of buying your Mac or you can’t buy AppleCare +.  I also learned, the hard way, that if you’re buying your Mac through an Employee Purchase Program (EPP), you can’t buy the AppleCare at a discount after the fact.  Fortunately, I was able to work with Apple directly for some other options.

61RK0001

Photo by dantekgeek

Because of these changes to the AppleCare + program, you’re unlikely to find it being sold on third party sites.  Your options are to buy it within those 60 days from Apple or buy it with the computer.

Apple does give you a few bonuses when you buy AppleCare + with the computer.  These are leftovers from the old APP, but not everyone knew these benefits.  It covers not just the computer but accessories like adapter, USB SuperDrive, and even the Airport router.

What If You Waited Too Long?

Non-Apple Protection

If you bought your Mac more than 60 days ago, you’re not 100% out of luck.  You can’t buy AppleCare +, but you have a few options.  We covered these other options with iPhones, but the same rules apply to desktop and laptop computers. They include:

  • Credit cards extending warranties and extra year and including 90 days of accidental damage protection.
  • Third-party tech insurance through companies like SquareTrade.
  • Purchasing insurance through your homeowner’s or business insurance.

Try to buy the old AppleCare Protection Plan

Since APP was sold as a separate product, some retailers may have inventory.  As of this writing, Apple was still allowing people to register devices under the old plan.  Time’s running out though because once these places sell off their old APP boxes, they won’t be getting new ones.  Check your local Apple Authorized Service Provider too;  they’re a great choice for Apple products outside the Apple store.

If those options don’t pan out, you might have success calling Apple directly to buy into the old program.  That’s what I considered for my MacBook.  I didn’t need the accidental protection, but I wanted the extended warranty on the hardware.  They were able to take my credit card over the phone and register it online.  Again, only Apple knows when they’ll discontinue that option.

Waiting a call

Photo by KadKarlis

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

If you thought about buying AppleCare, you’ll need to act within those first 60 days.  If you’re in the window of 61-364 days, you’ll need to consider some of the other options we recommend.  Most important, going forward you’ll need to buy AppleCare + when you buy your Mac.  Otherwise, you’ll jump through some additional hoops to verify your Mac isn’t broken.

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