A while back, while we were on a trip, my wife dropped her 13″ MacBook pro. It was not the first time she dropped it, but it was enough to kill it. (it was a short distance on to a carpeted floor in the hotel).
She got home and I did some diagnosis. The hard drive wasn’t recognized. I used all my tools, and assumed that it was just a bad HD, and that we could replace it easily enough. But to be sure, I dropped in a spare I knew to be good. No dice. Still not visible to the system (but it would boot from an external enclosure with the original drive I thought was bad.
So I was stumped. My wife was crushed and sure it would cost a fortune to repair, so she suffered without it for a few weeks. Finally on Monday she scheduled a visit to the Apple store with their Genius bar. I got dragged along, and gave the helpful tech what I tried, and what I suspected next (HD cable (low probability) or logic board (most likely)).
We were informed that it was 163 days out of warranty (the three year AppleCare plan) so the laptop is 3.5 years old.
I got to watch their testing process, and I was impressed. They plug into an ethernet cable and start a network boot. That boots a series of tool to diagnose the system, and confirmed what I told them. They used a few other tools, and decided to try to replace the HD cable. Told us to give them a phone number and that it would take probably 30 minutes. Fortunately there is a kick ass Gelato shop about 100 yards away, and a Total Wines so we had Ice Cream and bought some tequila.
Turned out that replacing the cable did the trick and it booted right up. Parts were $17, and a $39 charge for the labor, $56 + tax and we were out on our way home.
Compare that with the broken display on my work HP laptop. It took 3 months to figure out how to order it, then 2 weeks to get it, and when the tech put it in, it didn’t work, so it became a warranty issue. I ended up with a new logic board, new display and new RAM after 3 days of their “next day service” dicking around (to be fair, their tech was helpful and friendly, much better than the shitheads that work for Dell.)
(Another benefit, with their CRM system when I go in with a dead iPhone, even long out of warranty, they look me up, and all the products I have bought from them, and they have always fixed/replaced my iPhones without charge. I went through 3 iPhone 3GS’s in the 6 months before I upgraded to my current iPhone 4s. They do take care of loyal customers.)