Refurb Experience

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by dansante, Apr 18, 2007.

  1. dansante macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2007
    This is my first post, but I've been reading these forums daily for the past several weeks getting ready to purchase a MBP. On Friday I finally went ahead and purchased one from the refurb store. It arrived yesterday, and I'm having some trouble. After an incredibly frustrating customer service experience with Apple yesterday, I'm wondering if there are any other options out there that I should have been offered. Here's my situation:

    I purchased a refurb 15" MBP. It was listed as a 2.16 GHz C2D, with 1 GB of RAM on a single DIMM.

    The unit I received has some minor cosmetic issues (the bulge above the latch, some discoloration on the casing around the monitor, there were fingerprints all over it, and the little box/envelope filled with support documentation and disks looks like it was crumpled up into a ball and then reformed into something somewhat resembling a box). Since it's a refurb, and because I lucked out and the screen had no dead/stuck pixels, I wasn't going to complain about any of these things.

    I've read on these forums that sometimes people get little extras with their refurbs, and so one of the first things I did was check the system profiler. I would have been fine with getting just what I ordered, but what I actually got was 1 GB of RAM in a 2x512 configuration, not 1x1GB. So instead of an extra, I got less than what I'd paid for. Now, in order to upgrade to 2 GB, I'd have to toss all the RAM that's in there and buy 2 GB, rather than just adding 1 GB.

    I called Apple, and after being bounced around to four different people, two of whom asked me why I expected to get a 1x1 GB configuration (don't they have a copy of my order? It says it right on the invoice....) they finally put me through to someone who initially said my only option was to return the computer for a refund. He said they could not replace it because the refurb store was currently out of stock on that model. Of course, it was late afternoon, and the store was pretty much out of stock of everything. But I know from watching the store and reading these forums over the past few weeks that another unit just like the one I had ordered will pop up eventually.

    After initially stating that they could not leave the ticket open and had to resolve the issue now, the customer service rep finally agreed to give me one week to look for a unit with the same specs to show up on the refurb store and then initiate an exchange. The burden is apparently on me to check the store daily for this. I also have to do the exchange over the phone, so I have to hope that if I find a unit it is still there when the phone order folks start taking calls in the morning.

    I had asked if I could just take the MBP to an Apple Store and have them swap out the RAM for what is supposed to be in the unit, but was told no. I also cannot send the unit back to have this error fixed. My only options are a full exchange or a full refund - and the exchange option is only available if the refurb store shows my MBP configuration in stock.

    At one point I was offered $75 to keep the unit I have. I know I could buy a 1 GB stick of RAM from another vendor for that amount, but if I were to buy a 1 GB stick from Apple, which is what is supposed to have been in the computer, that would cost me $175. The rep said he knew this, but $75 was all he could offer. Besides, at this point I'm probably better off with a full replacement, as it does not appear that this particular unit went through much of a refurb process - if any - given the flaws that made it through the quality control stage.

    I'm just wondering if there were any other options I should have sought, and whether you guys think it makes sense for me to essentially stalk the refurb store for the next week and then hope I can get someone on the phone in time before the unit is sold. I suppose I could just return the unit and then buy a new one once the money is credited back to my card, but that seems like a lengthier process.

    Also, for anyone that may have returned a refurb in the past, should I be concerned about returning it with the cosmetic issues that this unit has? Is there any way Apple would not accept this unit back and blame me for causing those problems?

    Thanks in advance for any advice, and for giving me a place to vent!
  2. the vj macrumors 6502a

    Nov 23, 2006
    Try this week if you have the patience. I would. But if not get the $75. Still you saved already money by getting a refurbish.
  3. ricksbrain macrumors regular

    Aug 31, 2005
    Miami, FL
    They didn't do right by you, but ultimately your response depends upon your level of satisfaction. If you push a little and ask to fax them the invoice or something, the proof may be enough to push them to give you more of what you want.

    Ahhh, choices...
  4. Squonk macrumors 65816


    Mar 15, 2005
    It sounds to me like the "easiest" thing to do is return the MBP for a full refund and then watch for another and order it fresh. I don't recall too many of these types of stories on refurbs, so I suspect that unit #2 will be just fine.

    That is a bummer about this one having a perfect screen but those other blemishes are disappointing to be sure.

    I agree that they are not giving you very good service on this, but the reason I say this is the easiest solution is that you don't have to explain it all to the next customer service rep that you talk to... oy!
  5. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    That's the deal with refurbs. You get what you get...

    Years back a got a 3rd generation 10Gig iPod refurbed. When I got it, the power supply was bad. Apple did overnight me a new one.

    Last year our church got a Mini Core Solo, 512Megs/60Gig ordered, and ended up with a 1Gig/80Gig one. That was cool.

    A staff member just ordered a MBP, refurbed. When we got it, we ordered a third party 1Gig RAM module for it. When I tried to upgrade the RAM, one of the screws was torqued so tightly, I couldn't pry it. I was afraid of breaking the machine. The user took it to a local Mac dealer to have them pry it loose. We had to pay them $25 though so they could fix it while she waited. I assumed they charged Apple for the service. They graciously put the extra memory in it for us though.
  6. dansante thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2007
    I don't think it's a matter of proving to them that they screwed up at this point - the last guy I talked to did seem to have a copy of my invoice and know that it was their error. So I don't think faxing them the invoice will give me any additional options.

    I think I will probably try to watch the refurb store this week, but if one doesn't show up, I'm torn between taking the $75 or sending this one back and starting over. I can't cover the cost of two MBPs, so I can't buy a second computer while I wait to be refunded for this one.

    I know I saved some cash by purchasing a refurb, but at the same time I thought the only possibly negative variables would be with wear and tear, not a misconfigured machine. Also, I didn't realize the difficulties inherent in having one of these replaced if it arrives defective or just plain incorrect. I see people advise refurb purchasers to ask for a repair or replacement all the time when their hardware is not what they expected. I guess this is just a lesson that it's not quite that easy!

    Thanks for the advice and suggestions; I'm still mulling over what to do.
  7. siurpeeman macrumors 603


    Dec 2, 2006
    the OC
    i agree. i think this is the best way to go about. rather than stalking the store and hopinng to find the model you want at just the right time, you can return the refurb and buy again. it's curious, though, that you got ram in the wrong configuration. did you check to see you got the right processor (speed, cd/c2d)?
  8. synth3tik macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    Just like when you told yourself that you lucked out with only a few cosmetic issues at first, you are left to say is it going to benefit me to return the computer, watch for another refurb, or just take the 2X512Mb. Thinking about it. would the price of RAM be different enough to warrant the time and expense of a return.
  9. jonharris200 macrumors 6502


    Feb 25, 2006
    London, UK
    This is part of the risk of a refurb. But I would definitely return it and expect Apple to sort it and be generous in return for your trouble. Doesn't sound like you've had top customer service, so I would definitely push for more than just a $75 sweetener.
  10. ClaphamChris macrumors regular

    May 7, 2003
    London, UK
    Back in the day, I had a horrible time. When refurbs go wrong it's a world of pain. Ordered a refurb G4 PB and it turned up in an incredibly battered box. Like you, I thought it's what's inside that counts.

    Sadly, the install DVD was damaged, so called and waited for a replacement to be shipped. And when it was, the machine was a nightmare. Many of the keys on the keyboard didn't work, screeching hard drive and non-functioning backlight on the keyboard. Wasn't happy, but thought well, that's just my bad. These things happen. Spoke to Apple and they drove me mad....

    Had a bit more cash than expected at the time, so thought I'll just exchange it for a new machine and pay the difference. Nope. I'd have to return the machine and wait three weeks for a refund. Couldn't they just apply some sort of credit when they received the machine and I pay the extra? No. I've got to wait three weeks for my money back and start again. That's the T&Cs, they say.

    Bit upset at this stage with their intransigence. Hey, I'm the customer after all, eh? No effort at all to help. At the beginning I was calm, cool and, I hope, reasonable. But their complete unwilingness to even make some sort of gesture really got to me. When I was told that it was all in the T&Cs about the refund situation, I reminded them that their part of the bargain in the T&Cs was that the machine would be 'fully functional' and in line with Apple's QC standards, which it wasn't. Looked to me like it wasn't refurbed at all. In one door and out the other in error or something. On that basis, surely they could arrange something? After all, I was trying to give them more money in order to get a machine quickly, which I wouldn't have to do if the refurb was OK. Nope. These are the rules. We can't do anything.

    Escalated and escalated it, ultimately arguing that it wasn't that they couldn't do anything, but more that they wouldn't - and that's what I found most disappointing. Nothing. Wasted a week of waiting for calls back from people higher up the chain and got nothing. Zilch. Nada. Just a brick wall.

    Gave up in the end and got the refund - took four weeks. Guess I was just unlucky - good to hear many people have had fine experiences with refurbs. But I'll never touch one again as long as I live - purely because Apple's 'customer service' sucked so hard it was unbelievable.

    Anyhow, sorry to ramble on. Hope everything works out for you.
  11. Andrew D. macrumors 6502

    Apr 17, 2007
    Chicago, IL
    I would probably just return it for a refund and try you luck again. Atleast you are able to do that if you are not satisfied considering it is a refurbished product. Good luck!
  12. idea_hamster macrumors 65816


    Jul 11, 2003
    NYC, or thereabouts
    "Refurb. Apple" is...

    ...not "Apple."

    When I bought a refurb. 15" PB, I was all excited to start it up for the first time...and got that "Where's the OS?" question mark folder icon. :confused:

    No real harm, since the discs were right there -- but not your regular Apple experience.
  13. yojitani macrumors 68000


    Apr 28, 2005
    An octopus's garden
    Thanks for sharing that with us. I've been waiting for the refurb store to get something in - I was kind of half hoping for a MBP too...hmm.. maybe I'll wait.
  14. leon0909 macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2007
  15. AlBDamned macrumors 68030


    Mar 14, 2005
    I'd go with the others that have said send it back and get a refund then buy another one. Getting a fresh computer would definitely be my preference in this case.
  16. CrackedButter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2003
    51st State of America
    I can't understand what the fuss is about personally. You got a gig of RAM, regardless of whether its in 2 or 1 memory module. Plus they offered you $75. I'd have taken the money and waited for prices to come down.

    You're nitpicking as far as I'm concerned, besides, if you ebay the 2 512 modules you can increase your user rating. 512 modules still sell on ebay so its no biggy. If I was an Apple rep I'd regard you as wasting my time, stopping me from somebody who had a real issue.
  17. BenHoleton macrumors regular

    Dec 11, 2006
    Try the line, "Transfer me to your supervisor. You don't make enought to hear what I'm about to say next." They'll gladly transfer you to someone who has the authority to make something right. I did that, and ended up with a non-refurb unit when it was all said and done.
  18. Photo-Mac-Guy macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2006
    New Hampshire
    I believe there is one on there now....check it out. It definately says 1GB(1Dimm)
  19. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
    One mile up and soaring
    I think that's a little harsh. While you shouldn't expect extras, you should expect the config you ordered, and having an empty slot is a big deal. And regardless of whether it is the Apple Store or the refurb store, you should get the same level of customer service, which it doesn't sound like. You pay a discounted price for a computer that isn't exactly new, but other than that Apple needs to stand behind every part of the process. Now they may not have the internal setup required to take the next refurb available in that config off the line and exchange it for you, or the ability to have a store switch out the RAM, but that is something they should fix.
  20. Benjamin Black macrumors member

    Mar 28, 2006
    Dalls, TX
    first of all i would like to say that i have recently taken possession of a refurb mbp and love it. just like new + money saved = happy customer. so there are cosmetically perfect refurbs out there.

    that said, i have had customer service run-ins with apple in the past and they are very unaffected by any of your troubles. they seem to stick to their guns and follow their sometimes flawed protocol no matter how obvious your case or solution may be. they really don't seem to operate by the customer is always right creedo. in fact, just the opposite from my experience. sort of, "we're the geniuses here." it always kind of bugged me that they didn't bend over backwards to help more. after all, these machines cost a fortune and should make you sing apple's praises when you purchase it, not scratch your head and wonder exactly why macs are so esteemed.

    ahem...anyway as for my recommendation. i say send it back and start over. it's really the best thing to do. after all, you are settling for minor irritants and flaws that aren't necessary. so wait the few weeks and buy anew and hope to avoid having to ever come into contact with their reps again with a pristine machine.
  21. dansante thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2007
    I was able to catch the correct MBP on the refurb site this morning. They upgraded my shipping to overnight (I had paid for 2-day the first time around) and gave me a $100 credit. I do think I'm better off with a fresh machine, and this exchange process saves me the time delay of doing a complete return/re-order.

    I'm pleased with the end result (assuming that the new MBP doesn't have any major issues!). But I still think the way that Apple handled this leaves a little to be desired. As others have said, you pay less for a refurb and therefore take some chances on what cosmetic problems you may find on your computer, but you should be entitled to receive the same level of customer service as someone who purchased new.

    I think you're right that they are probably not set up to handle refurb exchanges very well, but it's situations like this that suggest perhaps they ought to devise a better system. It just seems wrong how much responsibility was put on me to locate a replacement MBP, and how I was given absolutely no guarantee that I would ever end up with product I had ordered.

    Thanks again to everyone for their advice!
  22. zero2dash macrumors 6502a


    Jul 6, 2006
    Fenton, MO
    "caveat emptor"

    It's a 'refurb' Mac. You get what you pay for. :eek:

    I'm not trying to be cruel but it's the truth. I plan on buying a refurb Mac sooner than later myself, but if it comes with a few scratches or something - that's the name of the game. If I'm scared about not getting a perfect machine, I'd buy a new one (and may do that, who knows).

    I'm sympathetic but at the same time, I'm not. :confused:

    Their customer service giving you the short end of the stick though...that's unacceptable. :cool:
    I agree with you there.

    Glad to see you got it all worked out though. :D
  23. dansante thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 18, 2007
    I just want to be clear that I was not complaining about the cosmetic problems - of course I would have preferred a perfect-looking machine, but I would have kept the one I received were it not for the misconfigured RAM.

    You are right when you say "you get what you pay for" - in this case, I did NOT get what I paid for, and that's why I initiated the exchange process. I'm sure there are ways I could have gone about trying to get the machine to be what I paid for on my own (selling the 2x512 on eBay was suggested), but the simple fact is that Apple should give you what you pay for and not make it a hassle for you to get that done.

    Thanks, me too!
  24. acoustics940 macrumors member

    Dec 14, 2006
    Well I got a 2.0 core2duo macbook refurbished and it is perfect and had 0 battery charges when I got it :). If you read what the website says about refurbished machines it doesn't say anything to the degree you get what you pay for tough **** deal with it. You get the same warranty its not like you are buying a computer from old Bob down the road for $10. I dont understand when people talk about refurbished macs they say you get what you pay for or thats why you should get a brand new one because its 2 weeks newer! Its a $1000+ investment its more than a case of "you get what you pay for".
  25. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Well, it is actually "you get what you pay for", but when you buy a refurbished product, you pay for exactly the spec you ordered, and you pay for a product in perfect working condition, that has been out of the box before. You pay less because it isn't brand new, not because it has faults.

    So I wouldn't complain about a dirty box, or a crumpled manual, or finger prints (although there shouldn't really be any finger prints, they should be wiped off), or having to install the OS myself. But anything that can't be fixed by reinstalling the software, and spending a few minutes wiping everything down, like the discoloration, or things not working, that isn't acceptable.

    (Interestingly I have seen one shop that actually sells LCD screens with dead pixels. Like same screen brand new for £250, refurbished for £210, one dead pixel for £180. )

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