Macmall or Apple Store (for $ and Piece of Mind?)

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by gumboots, Jun 24, 2013.

  1. gumboots macrumors newbie

    Oct 14, 2008
    Hi All,

    Sorry to post another long-winded "what should I buy" question. Reading through the forums has been helpful, but has raised more questions than answers! :)

    I've already bought a 11" i7/8/256 Macbook Air from Macmall for $1400 (appleinsider discount). I wanted something very portable--I have an external display at home and carry the thing with me all day. I chose Macmall because I was lured by no sales tax and the cheap price.

    However, I've now seen here that Macmall can be trouble if there's a slight problem with the computer (washed out screen) or if I decide I wanted a different model (bigger screen). They charge a 15% restocking fee for opened products, but no stocking fee if it remains unopened, so I haven't opened the box yet until I decide what to do.

    I also realized that I don't need the maxed-out specs. I thought I needed i7/8gb for Aperture (only a hobby) because Aperture had a slight lag in the Apple store on 1.3/4, but now I realize that Aperture itself is a buggy program no matter what, and that everything else I need (word processing) would be easily satisfied with lower specs. Saving money would be good.

    So it seems I have these options:

    (1) Open the Macmall computer, and just hope it works as planned and that I like the 11" form factor, which I've tried out in the store. [What are the real chances of a washed out LG screen, less than satisfactory battery or heat issue, or WiFi issue that would make me want to exchange it?]

    (2) Leave the Macmall box unopened, eat $30 postage and send it back. Buy the base model from the Apple store with .edu discount + (eventually) an external hard drive for iTunes and Photos. Save a total of $315 after taxes.

    (3) Same as #2, but get 1.3/8/256. Save only $25 vs. Macmall (and for a slower processor), but have the piece of mind that I can exchange it easily at the Apple Store if there's even the tiniest issue.

    (4) Keep the Macmall computer and sell it on Amazon/Ebay in a month if I'm not completely happy, although I would have to charge more than I paid for it in order not to get completely obliterated by the 8-10% sellers fees. Or hope someone on Craigslist could buy it after I move to NYC in September (bigger buying pool than in St Louis, where I am now).

    What would you do? Thanks for your help, everyone!
  2. racer1441 macrumors 68000

    Jul 3, 2009
    I wouldn't ever buy from MacMall. They have great prices and you usually don't get hit with tax.

    That being said, returns are pretty much impossible, and the staff and service people are pretty much the lowest type of human you can be and not commit some type of war crime. I had a whole order canceled once because the person I spoke to felt the order wasn't what she would purchase in that situation.
  3. falconeight Guest


    Apr 6, 2010
    Iv'e used macmall and returned to them with no problem.
  4. jmoore5196 macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2009
    Midwest US
    I rarely suggest someone avoid purchasing from a given retailer, but in your situation, there's no way I'd purchase from MacMall. I've been through the excruciating return process (there is no other word for it) and I would rather have major surgery.

    If you think there's a chance you'll need to return the MBA, buy from the Apple Store. If you can send your unopened MBA back to MacMall and get a refund, you're doing better than some of us!
  5. ronton macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2013
    I'm sure this has been answered many times, but if you buy it from MacMall/B&H can you still take it to the apple store if there's a defect/issue on the item?
  6. Ricanlegend macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2009
  7. iSteph macrumors newbie

    Apr 17, 2010
    MacMall return policy??

    Are you sure? MacMall's return policy is quite vague. Amazon is incredible, they credit my account the second the returned item is in transit, which I consider unbelievably unsurpassed A+ customer service.

    Still, does anyone know for sure what the heck the MacMall's return policy is, as far as open computers? I've read it word for word and I still don't know.
  8. jadAce, Aug 11, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013

    jadAce macrumors regular


    Aug 10, 2013
    I was having the same dilemma as you (if you went to the "Buying Tips and Advice" forum, you would probably see my question on Apple Store vs. MacMall). From what I've learned, while MacMall prices are good, as racer1441 mentioned, customer service is usually not as good as the Apple Store. If it turns out that the Mac is not perfect, you might have to jump through extra hoops to return, and maybe it would ultimately end up costing more.

    In summary, I would go with 2) or 3), but probably leaning towards 3). I have the i5/8/256 config, and from what I have heard and seen, it works perfectly. While the base model would save you money, the 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD would definitely help with your use. Plus, you "future-proof" it for another year or so.

    I realize you posted the question on June 24, so you probably already decided what would work best for you. But I hope this helps anyone who has a similar question!
  9. Mr Rabbit macrumors 6502a

    Mr Rabbit

    May 13, 2013
    Yes. Apple is responsible for the warranty on their products, not third parties such as MacMall. If you bought some extended "MacMall" warranty then you'd have to deal with them but the standard 1 year limited warranty and extended AppleCare warranties are both controlled by Apple, where they can only be serviced by Apple and/or Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASP). This is true for all Apple products regardless of where they're purchased, as long as they are new products. With that said, if it's a defect out of the box and you want to exchange it then you're likely stuck with exchanging it through MacMall. But even if they don't take care of it you can still fallback on the the Apple warranty.

    With all of that said, I have never dealt with MacMall personally but only because I've heard far too many horror stories from far too many people. Reading stuff online is one thing, people embellish and lie easily online, but when you hear one bad thing after another from friends and coworkers in the Apple product industry it starts to add up. Without getting into specifics I've heard several stories where refurbished or previous generation items were sold as new, situations where returns were accepted but the agreed amount was never fully refunded, incomplete orders shipped and never completely fulfilled, etc. I've worked for Apple and two Apple Authorized resellers/service providers and MacMall is notorious in the community for the problems listed above.

    I'd love to see prices like the ones they advertise just as much as the next person but the old saying "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" definitely seems to fit their reputation.


    I can't tell if the customer service mention is inferring that you have to jump through hoops at an Apple store. If so I've very rarely seen that occur while working there over the years. If anything it's one of the most easy return systems I've seen. As long as you have a receipt, receipt number or the credit card you purchased it with you can have just about anything (software excluded for obvious reasons) refunded within minutes. Exchanges are even simpler.

    Honestly any time I've had to exchange something at other retailers (Dicks comes to mind) the process has been excruciating by comparison.
  10. jadAce macrumors regular


    Aug 10, 2013
    Sorry, I forgot to put the "not" in "not as good as" in the first paragraph! Completely changed what I meant to say.

    Yes, what I wanted to say is, customer service is great at the Apple Store.
    It isn't probably going to be as good at Mac Mall, however, from all of the stories I've heard of MacMall having restocking fees, not accepting returns for some reason, etc. You might have to jump through extra hoops at MacMall.
  11. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
    Yes because MacMall is an (official) Authorized Apple Reseller.

    Likewise, if you have your Mac/iPad repaired or serviced at an Authorized Reseller, even if you merely have them do something trivial like install additional RAM on an iMac, the service is considered "authorized" and thus will not void your Apple warranty.

    However having some un-authorized shop or hack open up your iMac and install RAM could very well void your original Apple product warranty.
  12. Mr Rabbit macrumors 6502a

    Mr Rabbit

    May 13, 2013
    This is mostly true. Apple Authorized Resellers are able to sell items directly from Apple, however this designation does not allow them to service (open up) Apple computers. Apple Authorized Service Providers on the other hand are able to install RAM, hard drives, etc without voiding AppleCare since they recognized by Apple to be a reputable technical shop.

    More often than not any Apple Authorized Reseller that is a specialty Mac shop (MacSpecialist in Chicago, MacAuthority in Tennessee, MacHollywood in California, etc) will likely be an Authorized Service Provider as well. However it is quite possible for a business to be one but not the other. We have a local generalized computer shop that is an Authorized Reseller but not an Authorized Service Provider, and sadly the work I've seen from them (when customer's brought them to the businesses I've worked for) reflects that distinction.

    Just something to keep in mind.
  13. Solomani macrumors 68040


    Sep 25, 2012
    Alberto, Canado
    I stand corrected. You are right. I should have made the fine distinction between Apple Authorized Reseller and Apple Authorized Service Center.

    Back many years ago, there were many large computer stores that operated as both, a good example being CompUSA. They were an authorized Mac reseller, and their repair shop was also an officially authorized Apple Service Center. So if I was unsure how to install RAM in my 1999-era PowerBook, I would take it there and have them install it for cheap, rather than buy extra BTO memory from Apple online (which is expensive). Either way, the service is covered and the warranty is intact. And I saved money.

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