DM Blog

MacBook Pro Problems


Lately I’ve been having some hardware issues with my MacBook Pro and some bad luck in dealing with AppleCare. A lot of you have been asking how things are progressing with these issues so I’ve decided to keep you all up-to-date through my blog. I’ll also add any updates to these issues below, as comments to this article.

Apple MacBook Pro Keyboard

But before I begin, I find it necessary to clarify that the issues I’ve been having are all hardware related and not in any way software related. I recently submitted a comment on my blog:

Stop the nonsense and stop the insanity. Get a Mac and spend more time enjoying your computer and less time (actually, no time) fixing its bugs and quirks. Macs just work and as long as you have a Windoze PC, you’ll forever be cursed with "one thing or another."

…and I still stand by that comment. Mac OS X is very stable and unquestionably far superior to Windows in countless ways. The issues I’ve had are all related to manufacturing defects and/or parts defects and not at all related to the operating system itself.

So, Here’s the chronological history of problems I’ve had with my MacBook Pro:

– Purchase Date

Purchased 2.0Ghz MacBook Pro w/ 256MB ATI video card at the Apple Store in Yorkdale (Toronto, ON) for $3103.85 CDN

Some time before – Battery Replaced

Took my MacBook Pro to the Apple Store in Yorkdale (Toronto, ON) and they determined that my battery was defective and issued me a replacement on the spot.

– Fan Noise

After speaking with AppleCare on the phone, they issued me a case number and I took my MacBook Pro in to WestWorld (Calgary, AB) for service. My right fan was really loud when the computer would heat up and while it wouldn’t make the loud noise every time, it sounded like the computer was going to blow up when it did. WestWorld said they couldn’t replicate the issue so nothing was done. It didn’t take me much effort to "replicate" the issue myself though…

– Purchased Extended Warranty

Purchased AppleCare’s Extended Warranty from the Apple Online Store for $295.74 CDN, effectively covering my MacBook Pro until . I figured I’d take my computer in to the Apple Store in Calgary to get the fan issue fixed once the store opened… when it opens… if it opens…

– Battery Replaced

Spoke with AppleCare on the phone and they determined that my battery was defective; they sent me a replacement.

– Multiple Issues

After speaking with AppleCare on the phone, they issued me four case numbers and I took my MacBook Pro in to WestWorld for repairs. The issues I had are as follows:

  • DVD burning not working. The superdrive was deemed to be defective and was replaced.
  • Battery was deemed to be defective (again), and was replaced again.
  • Logic board was emitting a loud processor whine and there was a static issue when using the audio output as well as grounding issues. Both the logic board and I/O boards were replaced.

WestWorld told me they spoke to Apple to request that my whole computer be replaced instead of just the parts, but Apple would not agree to it. In total, five parts plus the top case were replaced – Apple was billed $1922.34 for the parts and labor. The repair technician at WestWorld told me that I was essentially getting a new MacBook Pro, minus the hard drive and screen.

– Logic Board & Airport Issues

I spoke with AppleCare on the phone (for more than six hours) and they issued me two case numbers to take my MacBook Pro in to WestWorld and get my original serial number re-programmed onto the logic board. Apparently, they were supposed to do this when they installed the new logic board but since it wasn’t done, it created a ton of irreversible software problems. The only possible fix was to have WestWorld re-program the serial number onto the logic board and then I had to backup everything, format my drive, and re-install OS X as well as all my programs, etc., which did in fact fix the problems.

– Multiple Issues

After speaking with AppleCare on the phone, they issued me some more case numbers and I took my MacBook Pro back to WestWorld for repairs. The issues I had are as follows:

  • Ever since the superdrive was replaced, discs would not eject all the way out. I would have to turn my computer upside down and shake it to "help" the discs eject.
  • CPU whine on the new logic board was gradually worsening with time.
  • Grounding issues and audio issues (above) were never resolved.
  • Extremely loud noise from the right fan when the computer was put under a load. No longer a sporadic issue and would happen consistently – so loud that it sounded like a lawnmower or like something inside was seconds from exploding! It was actually quite scary to use my MacBook Pro…
  • Since the computer couldn’t cool properly, it would cause frequent system hangs, even when only browsing the internet. The screen was also starting to flicker once and a while.

WestWorld again spoke to Apple to request that my MacBook Pro be replaced and this time they were successful at it.

– AppleCare Confirmation

A lady from AppleCare called me to confirm the details of the replacement MacBook Pro they would be sending me. At her request, we both went to Apple’s online store over the phone to click through the various options together so that there were no discrepancies later on. I remember the lady I spoke with starting to get annoyed with me for repeating countless times "It will be a matte screen right? I don’t want a glossy screen." She assured, and re-assured me numerous times that it would be a matte screen and definitely not a glossy screen.

– Replacement Received

I received my replacement computer and when I opened it I was shocked to see that it was a glossy screen MacBook Pro!

– Replacement Re-Sent

After playing phone tag for a couple days, I finally spoke with the lady at AppleCare and she told me they would re-send me a replacement, this time with a matte screen as originally specified. In the meantime, I would have to return my original MacBook Pro to WestWorld and use the (new) MacBook Pro with the glossy screen. It would also mean that I would have to transfer all my information over. Replacing the system and my files via a Time Machine backup didn’t work so I had to use Disk Utility. Many of the programs I use require that the software be authorized – and they use the computer’s serial number to do it. Most of my programs allow the software to be installed on only one computer (some on two), so I’ve had to make numerous phone calls to explain my situation in order to be able to re-authorize my software with a different computer/serial number, only to have to do it all over again in a couple days, or whenever it is that I’ll get the new MacBook Pro replacement with the matte screen…

– Old MacBook Pro Returned

As instructed, I took my original MacBook Pro back to WestWorld for them to return it to Apple. I was shocked to have to pay $49.88 CDN for a "diagnostic fee" which they explained was because they got my MacBook Pro replaced for me and never actually did anything hardware related to my computer. I argued that since it is a hardware issue, they should be billing AppleCare for the technicians time, but they insisted that I signed to accept responsibility for those charges when I dropped off my computer. When I got home, I checked my original service invoice and it says "quoted 47.50 for software related" but nothing about having to pay for a hardware diagnostic fee. The service invoice/receipt they gave me when I took back the old MacBook Pro also shows that they spent the majority of this hour of "diagnosis" time to resolve the disc ejecting issue. The technician’s notes were as follows:

Testing. Optical drive problem resolved. The opening for the optical drive on the bottom case was pinched and so it was creating pressure against the disks and then they could not eject properly. Straightened out the opening and now disk insert and eject fine. The processor whine may not be something we can resolve as it is something inherent with the logic boards on these models of MacBook Pros. Verified fan noise. Testing other issues.

It seems strange that they would bill me for this "diagnostic fee" (especially knowing that it’s nothing software related) but I paid it and asked them to email me a PDF copy of the receipt so that I could get AppleCare to reimburse me. I think what I’ll do instead is go back to WestWorld with my original service invoice and try to get them to refund me and instead bill AppleCare for the technician’s time directly. If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to get on the phone with AppleCare yet again…

So, there you have it. Those are the problems I’ve had with my MacBook Pro. I haven’t heard anything yet with respect to an ETA on the new replacement and I’m anxious to get it in my hands. I’ve lost countless hours days of my time dealing with a defective computer, speaking with AppleCare on the phone, waiting for my MacBook Pro to be serviced, long distance charges, etc. and it will be great to have all of this behind me. By the time I get my replacement setup and all my files transfered over, I will have re-installed the operating system and all my applications a total of at least six times in four+ months of dealing with these issues! I’m considering speaking with Apple Customer Relations about some sort of compensation but for now I just want to have my replacement MacBook Pro in my hands. The good news is that the current MacBook Pro I’m using (which is the same as the one I’ll be getting, only with a matte screen) is much much better. it’s much quieter, works great and doesn’t have any of the issues of my old MacBook Pro. I’m glad to see that it definitely wasn’t just me :-) I’ll add any updates as comments to this article to keep you all informed.