Commentary: Life Without AppleCare

by James Bain Mar 23, 2007

Sort of like writing the first draft of this article without saving, then having the page refresh and losing everything, sometimes I do really boneheaded things. I’m fairly forgiving with myself, since I know that I’m pretty averagely positioned within my species in this regard, the boneheadedness. However, it can be pretty darned inconvenient.

This morning I reached for my 60Gb iPod Video, turned it on and, instead of my familiar screen, got the saddest looking iPod logo with an Apple support URL printed underneath it instead.

“He’s dead, Jim!”

No drive noise, reset did nothing. It was absolutely gone. Damn!

When I bought this thing, November 8th, 2005, I was struck with the priciness of the then-new gadget and in a fit of wanting to save $69 for whatever dumb reason, I declined Extended AppleCare and then declined the store’s own extended warranty coverage.

Dumb dumb dumb.

I dunno. The iPod seemed like such a temporary thing. I mean, I know people who get new cellphones every year. New cars every year! Always the latest and greatest models of whatever. I am not one of these people, however. My car is thirteen years old (though is likely soon to be replaced) and I am not getting a new cellphone anytime soon. I haven’t even figured out half the functions of my old one.

No, I tend to use things until they break and then, and only then, get something new.

So why did I pull this stunt with the iPod? Yeah, it seemed temporary, but I sort of figured that if the iPod DID die on me, I’d force myself to buy whatever was new then and somehow or another as a result buy into the coolest gadget camp.

But looking around, I see that there really isn’t anything appreciably newer and neater now. My 60Gb iPod has been supplanted by a staggering 80Gb iPod. Maybe the screen’s a little brighter too, and the battery lasts a bit longer, but it’s pretty much the same. The iPhone’s not out, and even so doesn’t have enough storage to be considered as a replacement for my poor Video iPod. Can’t store much video on that thing, though the screen looks amazing. No, it’ll be some time before something much nicer is officially released and is shipping.

So, lessons learned? BUY APPLECARE (or any other sort of extended warranty you can) for devices that you care about and can’t buy again with a week’s worth of coffee and lunch money.

By the time your AppleCare does run out, you can be pretty sure that something really new will be out, something really new. And $69 really isn’t that much on a $499 (Canadian) device, which is what I originally paid for my 60Gb. Even a store’s extended warranty isn’t so bad. I replaced a Palm IIIc quickly on one once and have had pretty solid respect for them ever since.

Let’s set a standard! Buy an 8Gb Nano, or anything higher, and you MUST get an extended warranty. You’ve obviously bought the device because you have a need for it, and would be sad if it was gone. You obviously don’t have enough loose cash piling up in your pockets that you can just buy a replacement at a moment’s notice. It’s insurance, and I hope you never need to use it (like your long term disability insurance, right?), but if you do find yourself needing it, and you didn’t buy it, you’re going to feel quite stupid, if not bereft and angry.

My story doesn’t end so poorly, anyhow. It turns out that I paid for my iPod using a credit card that carries a warranty extension. I have a bit of searching to do for the original credit card statement showing the iPod purchase on it, and have to fax it and the receipt to someone, and then will have to send the dead iPod off to them before they replace it. It’s a few more steps, but in the end I’ll get a new 80Gb iPod Video! And you can be pretty sure that I’ll be getting the Extended AppleCare with this one.

I only had to be (almost) burned once to learn my lesson. Life without AppleCare is just a little too risky for this MacBoy! It really is worth the money.

And when your device finally does die, there really will be something better out that you’ll want to buy, something a little better than a hard drive and battery upgrade. Like a 40Gb iPhone maybe? I can only hope!

Thanks to CrashPod for the brilliant “Will I Dream?” graphic (click “He’s dead, Jim!”), and Thomas Schlijper for the dead iPod image! 


  • Applecare was a godsend.
    I bought my iMac G5 in July 2005, less than a month later I was having tons of problems with my iMac. After 4 trips to Toronto from a small town in Northumberland county, Apple replaced it with another computer, free under Applecare and then gave me a 10% discount and 512 RAM free. Then with the new machine I’ve had to replace two logic boards.
    Applecare was a godsend.

    Dudeguy had this to say on Mar 23, 2007 Posts: 20
  • Extended warranties are for suckers.  Like any insurance policy, you’re betting on failure.  And statistically speaking, you only have about an 8% chance of making good on your investment in the warranty.

    Sure, there is that occasional situation in which it would have paid off, like this one, but there are about the same number of situations in which you would have been better off without a seatbelt in an accident.  But you can’t make decisions based on the exceptions to the rule.

    I’ve had lots of computers and gadgets in my life.  I could have used an extended warranty ONCE in all that time (a laserdisc player that failed about one month shy of being three years old), which lines up just about right with the statistics.  Everything else I’ve had has either failed within one year or far beyond three.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Mar 24, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • James, my iPod’s done this a few times. Just leave on charge for a few days and see what happens.

    Beeb, in my experience, the extended warranty on Apple equipment is a bet that pays off. My list of failed in under APP period extends to 3 out of 3. Two iPods and a Powerbook. Only the PB had extended warranty and I saved a fortune, as the hinges had broken and the screen had to be replaced (twice).

    So, based on my experience, I’d say you’d be mad to buy Apple without APP. Makes you wonder then if you’re mad to buy Apple.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Mar 24, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • Even the Mac fanatics, who should have more confidence in the quality of Apple products, insist that Applecare is a great idea.  I’m reminded of the Simpsons episode when Homer shoves the crayon back into his skull so he can be stupid again, the first thing he says is “Extended warranty?  How can I lose?!”

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Mar 24, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • I couldn’t sympathise with you more, James. My iPod 4G has been giving me a lot of problems over the last couple of months, and I’m really regretting not having bought AppleCare.

    Apple offered to replace my iPod for the price of a new iPod, but, guess what, they wanted to replace it with another 4G iPod! 10,000rs for a three year old product? No thanks! I can get a brand new video iPod with four times the storage for about the same amount!

    So, I made the decision to void any chance of Apple replacing my iPod (who wants a raw deal like that anyway?) and opened it up myself. It has now been fixed twice, but if I move it around a lot (run with it, for example), it stops working. So, now it’s condemned to external harddrivedom.

    I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to buy AppleCare. I just bought APP for my MacBook Pro. That’s two more years of not worrying if my laptop is going to get spoilt. And after having things go wrong during the warranty period, I’m not going to take any chances.

    Smaran Dayal had this to say on Mar 25, 2007 Posts: 15
  • It worries me. The experience of everyone seems to be “don’t buy apple without APP”. So when we say “hey, look, the Mac is price competitive with Dells” that doesn’t include APP. And having being a Dell site in my last job and I did get 3yr warranties, I rarely needed them. Of 100 machines, I can only think of 3 or 4 where we called on it.

    If it wasn’t for OS X, I really don’t think I’d have a reason to buy Macs.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Mar 26, 2007 Posts: 1209
  • I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to buy AppleCare.

    Wow, Apple products must really be unreliable junk.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Mar 26, 2007 Posts: 2220
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