A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the recall of the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro. For some reason, I didn’t think about it being my laptop, probably because I thought mine had a larger screen. However, I finally looked online, and sure enough, it was my computer.
Apple has received 26 reports of the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s battery overheating, including five reports of minor burns and one report of smoke inhalation, as well as 17 reports of minor damage to nearby personal property.
The advice from Apple and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was to immediately stop using the recalled laptop computers. Consumers were advised to contact Apple to schedule a free repair, according to the recall announcement.
The closest Apple store is in Tacoma, Washington, a 45 minute drive from where I live. I called and asked if I needed an appointment. The answer was yes. And the computer needed to be sent to Apple to have the battery replaced. It would take one to two weeks to get it back.
The appointment was at 2:15 p.m., which would have put me right in the heavy rush-hour traffic coming back. I made the appointment, but I left for Tacoma about 10 a.m. so I would get there shortly after the store opened as a walk-in.
The first Apple “genius” I talked to said I might be able to get the battery replaced at the store. I was thrilled, but found after talking to Todd Morgan, the store manager, that it wasn’t true.
I asked to talk to the manager because, although I like Apple products and pay more for them than PCs, I think it’s a poor design choice to have MacBook Pros that you can’t open to replace the battery.
I also wanted to complain about the recall process. I knew about the recall because I’m a consumer and personal finance journalist. I select a recall each week to write about, usually the largest or most harmful one that has happened that week.
I told Morgan that Apple should be contacting consumers. I paid about $2,200 for the MacBook Pro plus another $800 for add-ons. It’s my travel computer.
Morgan was unimpressed about my concern about consumers needing to be being notified. He said there hasn’t been much damage caused from the recalled MacBook Pros. Another Apple genius I talked said there were thousands of MacBook Pros sold with only a few defective, like that was important and a good thing.
Before I left my computer, I was asked if I’d backed up the information on it. No, I hadn’t. I missed that step in the instructions. I had the option of going back home and backing up the data, buying an external hard drive for $100 at the Apple store, or going to Best Buy to buy a cheaper external hard drive then bringing it back to the Apple store to send it in for the recall.
The manager also sent a text to Best Buy to see if they would send in the computer for me. I don’t recall if he got an answer or what the answer was.
I decided to spent the $100 for the external hard and waited nearly an hour while the information was backed up. Fortunately, I’d brought a book with me to read.
My computer will be mailed back to me, which will save me a trip back to Tacoma.
I called a local Best Buy the day after my trip to the Apple store. They said they would have been able to send my laptop in for me. Very irritating. I wasted most of a day going to Tacoma and back.
I told Morgan I’d call him back about the details I’d received for the recall. I did miss the information about backing up my information. However, in the listing of the places I could take my computer to a local Best Buy wasn’t included. A big mistake from my point of view.
The recall is for about 432,000 MacBook Pros in the United States and 26,000 in Canada. I wonder how many of the computers will be returned to have the battery replaced.
Safety advocates say consumers would be better served if the registration required when they buy a car or truck was extended to other products. That way, they’d get a letter when an item was recalled. Vehicle recall response rates are among the highest, at about 72 percent in recent years.
About 34 million products were recalled in the United States in 2018.
On average, consumers follow up on recalls 6 percent of the time, even though products are recalled because they can injure or kill people, according to Consumer Reports. One reason is that most consumers never hear about the recall.
I was extremely upset by my entire experience Monday at the Tacoma Apple store. It was unusual because Apple usually has good customer service. Morgan downplayed my concerns and told me one point that I wasn't listening.
Update: I told Morgan I would call him and tell him what I found out after going back and looking at the information Apple provided about the recall. When we talked, I told him I missed the information about backing up my data. He said he gave me a 10 percent discount on the external hard drive. He said the feedback email I'd filled out with Apple by an email had gone directly to the Tacoma store.
I asked him to relay to the Apple management that it would be helpful to put Best Buy stores in the list of where customers could take the recalled computers. I wasted most of a day going to Tacoma. And I spent nearly $100 on an external hard drive. If I'd gone to my local Best Buy, I could have just come home to backup my data instead of spending money on another external hard drive.