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Apple Brighton: Macbook Air fixed (for free)

Less than 24 hours after giving Apple my FUBAR’d MBA, it’s back – fixed, working perfectly, and with a whole new screen too.

All credit to the local store and/or Apple’s internal repair processes. I’m not sure how much we should praise Apple overall for this, given it’s allegedly their fault in the first place (see below), but seriously – less than a day to get a laptop fixed? For free? Even though the warranty had expired? That’s awesome.

Repairing the hinge, out of warranty

NB: the reason this is such a big issue is that the hinge is integrated with the screen, so for Apple to fix this one tiny component, less than an inch long, requires replacing the most expensive part of the laptop at the same time. Apple’s estimates of the cost have been almost $1,000 for the repair, according to some reports. That’s enough to buy an entire new Air instead!

On Apple.com, there are 12 pages on this one topic, with many people who’ve reported the same issue, most of whom have had free repairs, even if their warranty had expired. Something to note: *many* of the failures happened either on very new laptops, or laptops just at the end of their warranties / recently expired. This could be to do with the failure, but I suspect it’s instead a signifier that only the people in those two situations are bothering to go online and complain.

(if your warranty just expired, and you’re afraid of having to pay for a new laptop … OR you just bought the laptop, and you’re afraid it’s an endemic issue, and you might have a chance of getting a full refund for the thing … you’re much more likely to research it. In all other cases, if your warranty is still valid, you’d probably just go to the store, get it repaired, and say nothing)

When I arrived in the store, with the obviously broken laptop, and told them what I’d read on Apple.com about the problem, I got suitably suspicious looks. Ten minutes later, after they’d looked through Apple’s internal notes, they came back and agreed to take it for repair immediately, no quibbles. Although by the sounds of it it’s *not* guaranteed – they seemed to be saying that not all the Air’s of this generation get the “free” repair.

So far as I can tell, Apple has never made an official statement on the issue. Specifically, they have NOT stated there is a “manufacturing defect” or “design fault” … although people claiming to be current or former Apple staff have (privately) described the problem that way.

…which also means we can’t be sure if the new models have been “fixed” in any way – although I’ve not (yet) heard reports of this affecting them. But given how expensive this issue appears to be for Apple, I’d bet they’ve had some level of changes made specifically around these hinges.

I wonder if this is down to legal liability – maybe there is a defect on a very few models, but there’s also a much-wider “flaw” in the design that they didn’t appreciate until the product went live (or they knew about, but didn’t have time to fix: this laptop was a major marketing piece for Apple at the time).

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