MacBook Air (Mid 2012) Final Verdict

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by iMacC2D, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. iMacC2D macrumors 6502a

    Jun 24, 2010
    Since everyone here loves being a storyteller of their experiences, I figured I'd take a few moments to share my own.

    After a decade of studying and working on Apple products, I've decided perhaps I should stick to what I do best - purchasing and servicing used machines. For a new machine, it's been an exercise in patience. I'm not sure if it's Apple Quality Control or Apple Customer Service that made the decision for me, or perhaps a combination of the two, but ultimately I'll be looking to find out how much a fully optioned MacBook Air (Mid 2012) sells for.

    After 5 months or so of ownership, my machine began to experience intermittent graphics lockups. The system was losing communication with the Intel graphics accelerator resulting in a complete loss of video updates and rapid fire entries in the console logs, like so...

    kernel[0]: ****  Debug info for *possible* hang in MAIN graphics engine  ****
    After discussing the issue with Apple and being advised to hold out on having any diagnostic or repair work done due to the imminent launch of 10.8.3. The update came through and was installed, however it didn't correct the issue. After this, it was concluded that the Logic Board should be replaced. Thankfully this corrected the graphics issue. However the Logic Board supplied by Apple was a refurbished board, and not a brilliantly refurbished one at that. The board is still covered in stains, perhaps flux, from the remanufacturing process, but since the board is otherwise functional Apple deemed the part fit for purpose and closed the repair. Hrm. Alright, life goes on.

    Then the Power Adapter failed. It would still charge the machine, most of the time, but it wasn't looking good. After discussing this with Apple and sending photos to them to prove that yes, the adapter was in fact in reasonable physical shape, the adapter was replaced.

    Fast forward a few months. As I hammer out an article for a technology forum late one evening, I'm greeted with an inability to comfortably use the letter "L" as it's decided to eject itself free from my keyboard. A trip to the Genius Bar to have that looked at. After the Genius tells me repeatedly that the key is simply not seated correctly, despite the fact it had been reseated multiple times in the past, they allow another Genius to look at the machine, and he replaces the Key Lift. Exactly as I suspected and stated from the start.

    Now, throughout the previous three repairs, I've been watching the machine health closely. I was never satisfied with the battery health, watching it make a steady decline from 98% to a fairly low 85% at the 200 cycle mark. Finally, after the last Genius Bar reservation for the key lift, the dreaded "Service Battery" indicator began to intermittently appear. It had finally dropped below 80%, albeit intermittently. I snapped screenshots of the issue and recorded as much information as I could, and back off to the Genius Bar I went.

    The Genius took one look at the machine before connecting it up to their Service Toolkit server for testing. Of course, it passed the diagnostics by a paltry 3%. I could watch the charge drop in real time from the diagnostic display, and it became very apparent that the machine was not well. I showed them the screenshots and documentation of the fluctuating battery health, but the information went straight in the trash - as long as Apple's diagnostics said the battery was good, Apple considered it good, no matter how much evidence to the contrary.

    So, I called AppleCare Technical Support and asked to speak to a Senior Advisor. I was told at this point that the Genius had recorded that my battery was fully functional at the point of diagnosis and that Apple would uphold the decision to decline my battery service.

    Disappointed. I know Apple has procedures in place for handling intermittent faults, but they chose not to exercise those procedures. With a machine about to leave its first year warranty, it wasn't looking good for the MacBook Air.

    Keen to have this resolved, I called them again a few days later. I had to make the request to speak to Customer Relations this time, as it was unlikely I would get any further without their assistance. Customer Relations reiterated that the Genius Bar had the final say on the issue, but after sending them the screenshots displaying the Service Battery indicator, they agreed to override the Genius Bar decision and issue an exception for the battery repair.

    So, the MacBook Air will now be receiving a replacement Battery. Not a replacement machine, much to the surprise of those that I told, but a battery. It's almost a case of "take the money and run", because I can't see any better outcome at this stage.

    Overall, the experience of dealing with Apple hasn't changed my perception of them at all. After all, I worked as an AppleCare technician for the better portion of the last 4 years, and I've never actually managed to have a successful repair or service experience with Apple that hasn't been held up at least once internally. What did take me by surprise was the feel at the Genius Bar. I'm not sure I've ever quite felt so inadequate, as though I had no technical knowledge of my own machine to bring to the table. I couldn't get a word in, even stating information in an attempt to help them isolate the fault was knocked back dare I question their authority, or something along those lines.

    Regardless, I maintained composure and kept calm throughout all of it. I've dealt with my fair share of difficult customers, and I just don't have the heart to inflict that on somebody else. I'm definitely not looking forward to going back there though.

    As for the MacBook Air, well it may be time to consider selling the machine on the used market. With 8GB of memory, a 512GB SSD and a brand new battery, I may be able to recover some of its market value. Having resigned from AppleCare recently to take up another job in the industry, one that supplies the use of Lenovo ThinkPads, I'm keen to go back to my roots and start experimenting with hardware from a number of different vendors again.

    Would I buy another new machine from Apple? Right now, definitely not. There needs to be time for the wounds to heal.

    That doesn't mean I'll be Apple-less of course, I rescued a MacBook Pro (Quad i7) from a salvage lot and have almost completed repairs to the components on the Logic Board. The entire machine will have cost me $7.50 by the time it's finished, not counting future upgrades. My MacBook Pro (Early 2008) is still hammering away despite having a terminal nVidia GeForce 8600M GT in it that Apple won't repair, but its faithful service won't go unrewarded when the time comes - I already have plans to have the GPU professionally reballed.

    These two machines I'll continue to love, because they cost next to nothing and so I can live with their imperfections, but also because for machines that have have experienced neglect, defects or damage, they've proven their robustness and earned their place.

    Anyhow, that's my story.

    If there's any advice you can take away from this, firstly it's "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again". Secondly, Customer Relations does have the power to overrule the Genius Bar. Third and finally, document everything, because if Apple Service Toolkit gives your machine a clean bill of health, even contrary to what it has reported in the past, it's your documentation that will lend credibility to your arguments for having it repaired.
  2. trondah macrumors 6502

    Dec 1, 2008
    Read all of this mess but I seem to have entirely missed your point, or purpose of this thread at all.
  3. DoctorK4 macrumors regular

    Jan 31, 2011
  4. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    I sincerely hope that, in your servicing of Lenovo ThinkPads, you do a better job than the bozo who tried to use a high-speed drill to retighten the screws on the bottom plate of my old, dear T40, when I sent it in for warranty work (bad sound card, logic board replacement), then insisted when I complained about it that the numerous deep gouges across the bottom, the stripped screws, and the crack in the replacement board caused by over-tightening were my fault.

    Ironically, that's when I decided I'd never get another Lenovo, and for that and other reasons, switched to Apple... while occasionally replacing worn keyboards, fans, and performing HD/memory upgrades to friends' out-of-warranty ThinkPads for cash on the side. :)
  5. iMacC2D, Jun 28, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2013

    iMacC2D thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 24, 2010
    1) 50% it was a "review" of AppleCare service policies. The introduction of mandatory AST (Apple Service Toolkit) testing in Apple's service channels may make it more difficult for customers to have repairs performed, especially when the fault is intermittent. In the past, Apple had processes in their parts ordering system for a skilled technician to confirm a fault and mark it as intermittent to allow the repair to proceed.

    Now, if Apple's diagnostics don't immediately catch the fault (and immediately is accurate, the test only takes 1-3 minutes to complete in its entirety), the machine won't be repaired, and if those tests are performed at the Genius Bar of an Apple Retail Store, it can be difficult to have any AppleCare advisors override the decision, regardless of the information you can provide proving the issue exists, as it's your word against one of their own employees. This can prove to be incredibly frustrating.

    2) 50% of the purpose of the post is summarised at the end. Reading through the story from beginning to end, you can get a feel for the challenges you may face when you have a particularly troublesome machine, but when it comes down to having it repaired, you need to be able to document everything in case you have to prove that the issue exists and to justify your case to Apple.

    So many customers I repaired machines for had absolutely no running documentation of the fault they were describing, and often Apple rejected repairs because the customer simply couldn't prove it.

    Also, I hear some of my clients said these forums can be a little rough at times when they've presented technical issues or concerns / seeking advice with Apple policies to the board, so I was a little curious to see if that was true.

    Thankfully I won't be repairing ThinkPads, they're just the company issued machines. Stepping down as a service technician is one of the best moves I could possibly have made, since it's constant pressure from Apple while trying to satisfy customer demands too. So I won't be repairing computers in a professional capacity for quite some time, I hope.

    That experience with Lenovo sounds very similar to what I experienced several times with this MacBook Air, albeit with less physical damage and more in the area of substandard or poorly performing parts. I suppose that's the consumer electronics industry in a nutshell. I'll keep that in mind should I end up experimenting with other vendors offerings.

    I'm still very fond of servicing and repurposing second-hand units, since you always know the quality of your own workmanship, you can pick the machines up for next to nothing and parts are plentiful on more common models. Mine are two examples of machines that Apple declined to repair or repaired incorrectly while under warranty, and since I've had them apart to recondition them, they've been rock solid.

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