I’m rarely one to buy into extended warranties. I worked at Best Buy (I was young and stupid, cut me some slack) long ago, and swore I would never waste money on those coverage plans. All that being said, I recommend all my friends cover their […]

I’m rarely one to buy into extended warranties. I worked at Best Buy (I was young and stupid, cut me some slack) long ago, and swore I would never waste money on those coverage plans. All that being said, I recommend all my friends cover their Mac with AppleCare — it can be expensive (depending on the model you buy) but in my own experience, has almost always paid for itself. But how do you swallow that hefty warranty price tag after dropping some serious coin on a shiny new computer? An interesting post at Wisebread may have the answer.

One of my favorite blogs about being frugal, Wisebread, has taken the dive and purchased AppleCare protection via eBay. Doing so saved $158 off the extended warranty for a Mac Pro — not shabby at all! Registering the code online went off without a hitch, so no immediate red flags at least. Writer Torley acknowledges no issues to test the coverage with as of yet, but there have been no communications from Apple to believe otherwise.

Despite some people around the web sounding a battle cry against AppleCare, I’ve yet to have a bad experience. I’ve had screens replaced for bad pixels, multiple logic boards on a single machine replaced, the machine finally replaced, and so on. (The question of Apple’s quality slowly degrading opposite their rise in popularity is probably a different post altogether…) But I do indeed swear by the coverage, not to mention that it can up the resale value if you try to trade up before the 3 years are up. Oh, and if you don’t have the extra cash on hand at the time you purchase your new slice of heaven, you can add AppleCare protection up to 1 year from the original purchase date.

Have you used eBay, or some other discount ‘provider’ of AppleCare for your Mac? If so, please share the good, bad, and ugly experiences you may have had!

  1. I just bought AppleCare for my 1st generation Macbook Air, which has already had a LCD failure and replacement. $200 on Amazon vs $250 + tax from Apple.

    1. You’re probably OK if it’s in an unopened retail box bought from a reputable seller. But BEWARE if all you’re getting is the registration code. I just bought Applecare and when I tried to register it, Apple required me to provide (a) the serial number on the bottom of the retail box and (b) a proof of purchase in addition to the registration code. Without that information my Applecare would have been worthless. Be warned – Apple does check for legitimate purchases.

  2. Er, so you’re buying a product that’s only made *and sold* by a single company, and rarely, if ever, sells it for more than a 10% discount. So how is it ending up on ebay for well under half of the normal price?

    This sounds a lot like the discounted iTunes, etc. cards that show up on ebay. Some of them are fradulent, but a lot of them are really just credit-card theft money laundering schemes. They use a stolen CC to buy stored-value cards, and then flip them on ebay for a fraction of the face value. The buyer gets a discount, the seller gets relatively untracable money, and the CC owner is left without an easy way to track down who stole their money. Sure, some of the cards for sale are peole who received them as gifts or as part of a promotion or something, but they’re almost certainly a small minority of the total volume on ebay.

  3. I bought Apple Care for my Mac Pro for $58 on eBay. It is usually something like $250. I also got Apple Care for my 30″ Cinema Display for about the same. That is usually $99. I think I made out pretty good. They were both unopened retail boxes.

  4. I bought it for my macbook pro in October 2007.In May 2008 my aluminium casing eroded(!) and was replaced GRATIS! In November 2008 my logic board need replacement. No Problem – replacement GRATIS (!). Subsequently I had a whole bunch of problems. The manager called me and offered me a BRAND new Unibody MacBook Pro GRATIS (!) My applecare was worth every penny.

  5. i bought it off ebay for my MBP that was close to a year old at the time. i live in the UK and got it from a US vendor, and subsequently paid around half the local price for it.
    i then travelled to australia late last year, when the MBP was well outside it’s original cover, and had issues reading blank dvd’s, took it into the new Sydney Apple store (very nice by the way) and they swapped the drive over in a matter of hours. the ebay purchased cover was 100% legit, and i had no problems whatsoever.
    i’d take the ebay option again without a doubt.

  6. I have to second what Scott said above–some of these transactions have to be questioned. As a former employee of an Apple Retail store, I can tell you from experience that the boxes of AppleCare, MobileMe/dotMac, and other really small items would walk out of the store in bulk–especially during the busy holiday seasons. These items, along with ipods, all tend to get bulk-stacked for display, so grabbing 5 or ten at a time is pretty easy. They can then end up on auction sites for pennies on the dollar and the seller is still making money.

    I know other small items are just as susceptible…cds, dvds, blue ray…all are painfully simple to smuggle out in bulk and virtually untraceable in the second-hand market (ask anybody who works in a retail location that has a used cd store near by).

    I know it is hard to pass up these incredible bargains but sometimes a deal is too good to be true.

  7. There is no bad or ugly, if you shop smart. We all know that adage, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is”. But we all also know about buyer’s remorse. And (stroking our own egos here), we expect that *we* can shop better than the next guy.
    So, let’s put it all together: If someone with 10 or fewer feedbacks is selling something on ebay (regardless of what it is), and has been a member since 2006 – don’t buy from him. If someone has 10,000 sales on ebay, but a feedback of 175…he’s been “buying” his own stuff and giving himself positive feedback…don’t buy from him. Okay I realize ebay has protections in place against that stuff, and those examples are extreme). Basic rule number one: Caveat Emptor (Buyer beware).
    However, coming back to buyer’s remorse… A certain percentage of the people who buy a complete setup from the apple store, buy Applecare without valuing it for what it is, and regret the purchase when they get home. I’ll assert that they buy MobileMe and Applecare for the right reasons while in the store, and then simply choose to forget, or freak out at the credit card bill coming in twenty days.
    So… Applecare and MobileMe (both) are the perfect product to buy on ebay, if you can trust the seller at first glance. I’ve only bought Applecare for my machines directly from Apple twice. Every machine I own (including iPods) always has Applecare on it before the first year is up. I always buy it from ebay at close to fifty percent off…

  8. I never buy insurance unless I legally have to (it’s bitten me in the ass a couple of times, but I’d like to think I’m making an overall profit), but AppleCare is one thing I will always have on my laptops, just because they seem to care more about the fact that the customer’s happy than they do about squeezing every last penny out of you.

    I had a problem with my MBP after about a year, and the geniuses couldn’t find a fix for it so, after swapping out nearly all of the internals, they replaced. Then when the replacement had the yellow screen issue, I had a replacement screen. Can’t argue with that at all, and it encapsulates one of the main reasons I will be an Apple customer for the foreseeable future – their after sales is excellent.

  9. Thanks for the many good comments.

    @Scott – It’s like listening to Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2. All kidding aside, thank you for the detailed explanation that many of us may not have thought of before.

    @Christopher – Your comments obviously come with some great insight that most of us may not be as privy to, so thank you for that peek inside the Apple Retail experience. I’m sure we’re all aware of shrinkage issues (not those of Seinfeld fame) to some extent, but when seizing a fantastic bargain, probably choose to ignore the potentially obvious reality that may be behind the deal.

  10. I have one of those protection plans for iPhone saved on my eBay page. I have been waiting for you guys or another apple blog to post some horror story but after this I guess I’ll go ahead and buy it.

    If it works with no issues, I’ll be buying the same thing for my MacBook Pro I just got. $350 for a macbook pro is a steal considering the LED housing is $800 to repair and logic board could be $500 but it’s a lot to spend for a “maybe” it’ll break.

    thanks for the blog post.


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