So I thought about sharing a recent experience during this COVID-19 pandemic, regarding repairs to Apple products. In a nutshell: I got my MacBook Pro repaired during the pandemic and I was impressed. How did it come to that?

Image of repaired MacBook Pro fully running, sent via UPS with utmost care.
Repaired MacBook Pro (notice the transparency strip on the Touch Bar) shipped via UPS

How it all started?

Back in December 2019, I flew to Bengaluru for a family wedding and took my MacBook Pro (mid-2018) with me. It wasn’t until I got to the hotel that I felt something was wrong with it. I kept it on the desk and it didn’t look like it rested flush to the surface.

Turns out the battery warped inside the MacBook Pro, causing a bump that I could feel below the trackpad area. This never happened to me before, cause I’ve travelled with with plenty of times. You want to know the surprising part? The machine still worked as if nothing happened.

Given this issue, I thought of taking it to the nearest Apple Premium Reseller to see how long it would take to fix it. Turns out I’d need to stay in India even longer. That’s when I decided that I’d rather take it to an actual Apple Store once I’m back in the US.

It wasn’t until late January 2020 when I went to the 5th Avenue branch in New York City with my appointment. The specialist clearly noticed something was wrong. Good thing about them is that they were checking with their staff on the estimated turn-around times for this. I’d have to wait at least a week and I didn’t have the luxury of time.

I decided to wait for a few more months until I could give it. The WHO hadn’t yet declared the Coronavirus as a global pandemic. I was still able to use it, but that bump was becoming annoying and uncomfortable when I type on it.

Then the surprising thing happened – the clamp locks for the base, which keep it closed align with the screws, slightly snapped off. The side vents were now open that I could easily see the swollen battery from either side. Still, the MacBook Pro worked but the battery life had already taken a toll on it when the swelling began

Fast forward to present

August arrived and I decided to finally take it to the Apple Store (after scheduling an appointment). Given that Apple has been closely monitoring the pandemic, closing off their stores based on the situation or opening with strict guidelines in place, I knew that there would be some wait but I was ready for it.

After taking it to the nearest Apple Store, they said it would have to be shipped via land (due to the battery issues) to their repair facility. It would take 10 days amd that’s an estimate. I assumed it would be 10 working days, totalling up to 2 weeks.

They even gave me the option of whether I come and collect it from the store it self, or they’ll mail it direct to me. I chose the latter, just to minimize my movements from home. Good thing I got AppleCare with it, cause this was all covered in it. Otherwise, I’d be paying ~$800 for this.

Waiting for it

I was kept up-to-date on its repair status electroncially with email updates, since I had my Apple ID linked. One thing to note is that my appointment was on a weekend. In addition, they said that the machine would be sent on Monday via road due to battery safety issues. Technically, it took 8 days if I count it from Monday.

How the repaired MacBook Pro arrived via UPS

Then, I got the email update on Friday saying that they received my machine. Hours later, another email saying that repairs were done and it’s being shipped. Wow! That’s quick on the repair side.

Since it was being mailed back, I got a UPS tracking number to track it. Turns out the machine went to their repair facility in Houston, TX.

Now I was just counting the days until I could receive it. UPS dropped it off at my place here and then proceeded to unbox it to start using it. The machine looked brand new, since they replaced both the top and bottom chassis. Did I mention that there’s a fresh new battery inside it as well?

Unboxing the delivered MacBook Pro

What did I learn?

Even during these difficult times, Apple still maintained their daily operations pacing. For something like the issue on my MacBook Pro to likely minor stuff, the brand has really tried to keep its promise.

I’m sure the Apple Stores in the UAE have a similar process in place when it comes to taking repairs, especially since they had closed their stores completely and have only jsut reopened with limited services. They’d definitely have their repair operations somewhere in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

It also got me thinking why can’t Apple also audit their Authorized Premium Resellers to have a similar process in place for repairs. It also helps make the case that Apple should be opening up more stores in the Middle East (kept to main metro areas). Easier said than done, but there also has to be a commercial reasoning to bolster the act.

The one problem I’ve seen with the Middle East branch of the Apple Premium Resellers is that they have to order the parts once they diagnose the issues. This is from my personal experience with one of my older laptops. It’

Posted by:Yasser Masood

Think of me as a grassroots community evangelist. Juggling social media while covering technology/digital trends across the Middle East and crossroads of society and culture, while unearthing other perspectives that pique my interests.

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