Holiday MacBook Woes.

amgff84

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 22, 2019
164
180
To make a long story short, I bought 3 2010 MacBooks for the kids as presents for the upcoming holiday (Christmas for us). It was the hardest thing to date so far.

Okay, maybe that wasn't much of a description, so I'll elaborate.

I've worked in the fire protection industry for almost a decade, up until last year just before thanksgiving when my employer took on a new co-owner. At this point, everyone either quit from stress or, those of us that hung on, were fired for something. Me, I was fired for... no reason given. I'm getting off track, so I digress.

Since then I had bad luck trying to find a decent job in the fire protection industry, I even worked for a company known to be a hack locally by others in the industry. I couldn't believe what they were doing to customers, who were mostly state contracts. Things like charging for hydrostatic tests, but not even doing them. It gets much worse, but whatever, I'm off topic again.

Basically, after their busy season, they told me to either quit or work in the shop part time. I have no problem getting my hands dirty, but I didn't spend almost a decade in the industry to end up where I started from, so I eventually left and I now work in manufacturing. I hold a certificate from a trade school... from like way long ago. I was able to find a small shop willing to take on the task of re-teaching me while I help them with growing their business, organizing their shop, and just other odds and ends.

So, we end up here, just before the holidays. I am working part time, and even though I am putting in some decent hours, I obviously don't have a ton of cash, so I wanted to do something nice for the three kids this Christmas. We decided we would get a computer each for them, so my girlfriend hops on the web and starts searching for deals on Chromebooks or similar computers.

After some searching, she comes up with a few decent Chromebooks, but nothing to write home about. I told her we are looking at this the wrong way. I said Chromebooks are okay, but storage in minimal, specs are... sometimes dismal. I said for the same price we could grab some older MacBooks and they can have a full fledged computer, still with cloud storage. I hop on the eBay, and purchase 3 mid 2010 unibody MacBooks. The idea is that I'll receive these in go through them, clean them, apply new TIM, upgrade the ram, and replace the HDD with an SSD. The first 3 came in, and I got one 2010, and the 2 others were 2009's with the 9400m GPU. I happen to know that this GPU, even though it is a solid GPU, it's still not good enough for these kids as Roblox can't be played on it well. The 320m in the 2010 is quite a jump in performance on these machines and plays Roblox pretty smoothly, there is also a slightly faster CPU which will help a little given the age, and the RAM can be upgraded to 16gb rather than the 8gb cap on the 2009 unibody. I send the other 2 back the next day and wait for the seller to ship the new ones.

One week later I get the next two in... Same thing, but this time they are in a little rougher shape. I complain to the seller and he claims he drop shipped them from someone else because he didn't have them. So again, I only go through one computer and send off the other, except this time I held onto it because I was busy all week and didn't have time to run to the post office. At this point, I hop on the eBay and search for these intently looking for the best candidates. I find 5 and message the seller of each with a quick "please help me rant" stating that I'm in a time crunch and need this asap, and to confirm the specifications and condition of the machine. Of the 5 messages I sent, I received 2 back and went with the first response. He claimed this was in good overall condition.

So I guess his opinion of good overall condition differs greatly from mine. This machine was in the worst condition yet. It was clean and white, but it looked as if someone cleaned the machine with a solvent that almost melted the plastic. I remembered I still had the 2009, and it was a little rough, and had the fractures on the lid, but it was still in better shape than this one. So I did my magic, completely disassembled both, and took the best from both an put them into one with the 2010 logic board.

End Result; 3 clean 2010 unibody MacBooks with 2.4ghz C2D CPU's, 128gb SSD, 8gb RAM, and the Nvidia 320m graphics. These are decent little machines. I spent about 3-4 hours on each one breaking it down, cleaning it up, upgrading it, replacing the TIM, and installing High Sierra on it.

Here's my issue though; If I am paying $150 US for these machines and they are claimed to be seller refurbished, why the hell did I get them in and have to do all that work? And why do people selling them feel that a machine with those specs and clean is worth $300 US? I mean for $300 you can get a pretty decent Windows laptop. I chose Mac, well, because I like Mac and they all have iPhones anyways. They range in age from 8 to 13, so they don't need super good machines, and I feel these are pretty decent machines for them anyways.

Anyways, my point, and it's something you all already know... Watch out for scummy eBay sellers. I will never buy used Macs from eBay as gifts again. Close to 10 hours went into these machines between searching listings, cleaning them up into presentable condition, replacing the TIM, upgrading them, and reinstalling MacOS. These sellers should be embarrassed for selling these machines in the condition they did after presenting them as Grade B. Only one was a good grade B, the other was teetering on the grade C side of things, and the other should have been listed as parts due to the damage of the exterior of the case. I mean heck, one even had an H where the U was supposed to be. Thankfully, in the end everything worked out and all Macs were restored completely, but it's just unbelievable what some of these shady sellers do.

The supplied photos are of the end result. I wrote in Sharpie on the bottom with the first letter of their name, as well as putting a dot on the keyboard on the letter of their name. This should help them figure out which one is which. I'm sure they will sticker them up anyway.

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Plett

macrumors 6502
Feb 16, 2016
289
212
I gotta say those were some great machines in the day. Kids will love them I am sure, and your work on them is priceless. That said, I agree, for tech ebay for me has always been a gamble, but when looking for something this old there are regrettably not many choices that I am aware of.

I normally shop the Apple Refurb store and have had great luck there, but of course those are year or two old machines and I can trust them when I get them.
 

amgff84

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 22, 2019
164
180
Yeah, I've heard that. I've usually had good luck on eBay. This time, not so much. I mean I bought all sorts of computer tech and never really had an issue. Three in a row this time? I will be even more careful going forward. I will say though, usually I try to find someone selling their own machine, rather than going through resellers. This was just a crap show.

I am hoping these kids will enjoy them, I think the time invested means more to me than it will them, but oh well. I'm not a power user and I still use my late 08 MacBook unibody and have done the same upgrades and updates. Using Colins patcher I have High Sierra installed and it's fine. Even my main machine is an older i5 Mac mini with High Sierra.

Thanks for the reply.
 
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velocityg4

macrumors 601
Dec 19, 2004
4,722
1,302
Georgia
Just curious. Did you buy from sellers with example photos? Not photos of the actual item.

After a couple bad items. I only go for sellers which provide actual photos of the item for sale. Even then only detailed photos from all angles. Then study them. This has worked out for me in making sure items I get are in good physical condition.

Refurbished is meaningless. There is no legal definition. All that really matters is manufacturer refurbished. Seller refurbished just means used and they pressed the power button to see that it turns on. Ideally seller refurbished would mean that they ran a full diagnostic, cleaned it, wiped the storage and replaced any broken parts. Unfortunately it doesn't. It's just a way to charge a higher price.

I think the best way to buy used computers on eBay is auction style listings from private sellers. Not Buy It Now from computer recyclers.
 

The Samurai

macrumors 68010
Dec 29, 2007
2,001
582
Glasgow
Its a very effective marketing trick. I don't know about you but I would prefer buying a 'refurb' over a 'used' item and sadly, many sellers use this when in fact its not a true reflection of the term 'refurb' as you have pointed out.

That said, the machines look good after the hours you've put into them and hopefully will go down a treat with the family.

Happy holidays!
 

amgff84

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 22, 2019
164
180
Just curious. Did you buy from sellers with example photos? Not photos of the actual item.

After a couple bad items. I only go for sellers which provide actual photos of the item for sale. Even then only detailed photos from all angles. Then study them. This has worked out for me in making sure items I get are in good physical condition.

Refurbished is meaningless. There is no legal definition. All that really matters is manufacturer refurbished. Seller refurbished just means used and they pressed the power button to see that it turns on. Ideally seller refurbished would mean that they ran a full diagnostic, cleaned it, wiped the storage and replaced any broken parts. Unfortunately it doesn't. It's just a way to charge a higher price.

I think the best way to buy used computers on eBay is auction style listings from private sellers. Not Buy It Now from computer recyclers.
So, I've noticed that most sellers that sell sell sell, have realized that if they omit certain things, they can give the appearance that they are a private seller, especially when they list photos taken on a kitchen counter or something of the likes. So that was what happened with my final purchase, however, the first listing I went in knowing it was a recycler... So shame on me. lol. I'm aware that refurbished means nothing unless specified by a manufacturer, but what grinds my gears is that they list it as refurbished without any care... Like where is their pride? If I was a reseller, I would go through each computer and actually refurb it the best I could that was financially feasible, but who knows, maybe they did and to them these machines are just junk. I happen to think these machines are actually pretty decent for average to light day to day use, albeit, outdated in spec and looks. I like your idea though, and I will probably plan out things better next time and just fight others in an auction for decent machine. I expect these machines to really only last a couple of years.
- - Post merged: - -

Its a very effective marketing trick. I don't know about you but I would prefer buying a 'refurb' over a 'used' item and sadly, many sellers use this when in fact its not a true reflection of the term 'refurb' as you have pointed out.

That said, the machines look good after the hours you've put into them and hopefully will go down a treat with the family.

Happy holidays!
Yeah, it is a shame that people need to be shady to earn money. I think eBay allows it though... I mean if I wanted, I could have just returned everything and tried it all over again. If only I wasn't in a time crunch. I really put in extra effort to get these things looking that good. If anyone is interested, I used a magic eraser to lightly remove material from areas with light damage, and a little rubbing alcohol to wipe it clean.
 
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CYB3RBYTE

macrumors 6502
Sep 2, 2014
339
115
Midwest
I owned a mid-09 Unibody 2.26 GHZ. I have to say, the ones you've received are the cleanest I've seen to date.

If you paid thinking the work was going to be done for you, I'm sorry that's not the case. As someone who would rather do the work to restore something myself rather than have someone who doesn't know what they're doing (not statically grounded, reusing bad screws, etc) mess around and break something before I purchase it.

For what it's worth I paid $130 for my mid-09' earlier this year. So either way you did alright price wise.
 

amgff84

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 22, 2019
164
180
I owned a mid-09 Unibody 2.26 GHZ. I have to say, the ones you've received are the cleanest I've seen to date.

If you paid thinking the work was going to be done for you, I'm sorry that's not the case. As someone who would rather do the work to restore something myself rather than have someone who doesn't know what they're doing (not statically grounded, reusing bad screws, etc) mess around and break something before I purchase it.

For what it's worth I paid $130 for my mid-09' earlier this year. So either way you did alright price wise.
Thanks, I appreciate the input. Here's the troubles; I order 3 2010 MacBooks with the 2.4 C2D CPU, I get one and 2 others like what you had. I then spoke with the seller, sent them back, and then received one 2010 and again, a late 09. So the 3rd time around I chose to go with something that appeared to be from someone just selling their laptop, and spoke with the seller. He said, and I quote, "good overall condition". I recently checked his listing and they must have updated it because now they are selling "mid 2010 MacBook 2.26 ghz) however, according to everyman.com, the only cpu that came in the 2010 was a 2.4. So, yeah, these guys are just resellers selling laptops that turn on. Their 6 year old child is probably in charge of grading these machines.

Why am I on here complaining? I'm not. I'm just sharing my story. I also want to mention that while the computers look amazing now, they did not look like that when I received them. I'll link the before pics below (notice the 2 H keys or the chewed up rubber lid seal, or the huge scratches). Plus, regardless if they came in gleaming, I'd still tear them apart and refurb them to my standard. eBay is a marketplace, and with any marketplace, there is a price paid for the value of something. I don't believe these computers should have been listed as grade B. With that said, the price was fair enough for a complete parts computer, but I bought them as they were listed as grade B. I will say though, on these older poly cases, a magic clean eraser is your friend. At the end of the day though, I bought and now own 3 awesome, like new MacBooks running a decently newer macOS operating systems for the same price as one MacBook Pro only a couple of years newer.

Maybe it's me, is my standard for grade B too high? I dunno. I suppose if it's listed as excellent condition like the first two purchases were listed as and I get this, it's almost laughable.

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CYB3RBYTE

macrumors 6502
Sep 2, 2014
339
115
Midwest
Your standard for grade B is spot on with real world standards. But eBay's grade A+ is real world grade B.

Also we need to find a good manufacturer of these bottom cases.
 

amgff84

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 22, 2019
164
180
Your standard for grade B is spot on with real world standards. But eBay's grade A+ is real world grade B.

Also we need to find a good manufacturer of these bottom cases.
I actually used tweezers and slide them along the edge and pushed up with a finger at the same time. I managed to get the rubber back onto the aluminum and then glued it. looks ok, but won't last. I never thought about aftermarket manufacturers... Good idea. If I find anything, I'll let you know. I was considering just ripping off the rubber and scuffing the aluminum with scothbrite and spraying it with plastidip. I would assume the glue holding the rubber on would need some chemical to remove.
 

CYB3RBYTE

macrumors 6502
Sep 2, 2014
339
115
Midwest
Yeah you'd probably need some nasty stuff such as paint thinner or mineral spirits to get that glue off. It was pretty strong the time I removed mine if I remember correctly.
 
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