Part 1: Demystifying Warranties

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Warranty Series Introduction

If you’re investing in a new computer, smartphone, tablet, or other electronic device your hope is that it’s going to last. But what if something goes wrong? Depending on the problem, for some devices it makes sense to get a repair while for others the cost of repair might make replacement a better option. In either case, a warranty can be the only thing that stands between you and an expense you didn’t bargain for.

Of course, the term “warranty” is often used generically. In fact, there are basic warranties, extended warranties and service plans, each with its own limitations, advantages and drawbacks and it’s important to know the difference. To decide whether a basic warranty, extended warranty or service plan makes sense for you, it’s important to first understand what they are and how they work.

Part 1: Standard warranties, extended warranties and service plans: what’s the difference?

What is a basic warranty?
Normally, when you purchase a high-ticket item, the manufacturer makes a commitment to stand behind the product. This is called a manufacturer’s warranty, standard warranty or basic warranty. In short, the manufacturer promises to repair, replace or refund the cost of a defective product for a certain period of time. Although not required by law, basic warranties are included in the purchase price of many devices and products. Of course, every basic warranty is unique, with varying durations and covered defects.

What’s an extended warranty?
Often when you buy a device or other product, the manufacturer might offer you the opportunity to purchase an extended warranty that prolongs the terms of a basic warranty, typically from 1-3 years. Unlike standard warranties, these manufacturer-branded warranty programs – like Apple Care or Samsung Premium Care – cost extra and are sold separately. On the plus side, extended warranties will sometimes include additional protections as well as a longer term. So, for example, you might get limited coverage for accidental damage (like a cracked screen) in addition to protection against failures that are no fault of your own (a failed hard drive, for example). It’s also important to note that some manufacturers offer several flavors of extended warranty depending on the type of product, with varying terms and coverage, or warranties that cater to the specific needs of businesses or consumers.

What is a service plan?
Depending on where you buy your product, you might also be offered the opportunity to buy an extended service plan. These plans are like extended warranties, but are fulfilled by third parties rather than the manufacturer. In most cases, they kick in after the basic warranty expires. They are often cheaper than manufacturers’ extended warranties but might not be as generous in terms of the defects they cover or the repairs they’ll provide. They also might not give much choice in terms of who repairs your product and they may not guarantee to use the same parts as the original product.

All warranty programs are limited by conditions and restrictions. It’s important to understand the basics of how a warranty works in order to make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Simple answers to common questions about warranties

How long does a warranty last?
It depends. The only way to find out is to check the warranty document to see when it begins and when it expires, as well as any conditions that may void coverage.

What parts and repair problems are covered by warranty?
Again, it depends. Read to see if any parts of the product or certain types of repairs are excluded from the warranty. In some cases, warranties oblige you to pay for labor costs. Also, it’s worth keeping in mind to look for criteria that could prove costly or problematic to comply with, such as a requirement that you ship heavy or large objects to a distant address for service, or that you return the item in the original box. The majority of laptop warranties will cover hardware problems that are not caused by the owner, such as defective keyboards, monitor problems, modem or other issues with internal components. A laptop warranty will also spell out what actions on your part will void the warranty. Something as simple as opening the case and breaking a seal can be enough to void a warranty, even if you just wanted to take a peek inside.

How do I enforce a warranty?
It depends (are you sensing a theme here?). It’s often the manufacturer who provides you with a warranty but it can also come from the seller or even a third party (if it’s an extended service contract). Check the contact information and inquire before buying if you’re still uncertain. But expect to be asked to provide some proof that the product is still within the warranty period (either a receipt or some other proof of purchase).

Who performs warranty repairs?
Large technology vendors such as Apple, Lenovo, HP and Toshiba will perform warranty repairs but also have designated authorized service providers (ASPs). ComputerCare is qualified to service Apple, Lenovo, HP and Toshiba products covered under their warranty. We use the same parts and specifications as the manufacturers. Service conducted by anyone other than the manufacturer or an authorized service provider typically voids the warranty. In the warranty of a laptop or a smartphone the manufacturer will state how repairs will be completed and whether they will use new, used or refurbished parts. The warranty will also provide details on where servicing will take place.

What is a limited or conditioned warranty?
Certain warranties provide coverage only if you keep or use the product as directed. For example, a warranty may cover only personal uses—as opposed to business uses—of the product. As such, it’s important to check that the warranty will meet your needs.

Is an oral warranty binding?
Don’t take a salesperson’s word that the manufacturer will provide free repairs; make sure to get it in writing. If not, you may not be able to get the service that was promised.

Our next installment on warranties will help you determine if you’re a candidate for an extended warranty and what to consider before making the leap.

Take Advantage of Apple’s iPhone Battery Replacement Program

        

Until the end of 2018, Apple has reduced the price of iPhone battery replacements for the iPhone 6 and later models to $29. Even better, if you bought AppleCare+ for your iPhone and it is still within the two-year hardware repair coverage window, then your iPhone battery replacement will be free.

Keep in mind that demand for this service is currently very high, so be sure to call ComputerCare directly before you bring your iPhone in for service. You can reach us at: ComputerCare Santa Clara: (650) 475-5500 and ComputerCare Seattle: (206) 743-8052.

The iPhones models included in the battery replacement program are:

  • iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus

When you bring your iPhone in to have its battery replaced, the first thing we do is run a standard diagnostic test to check the battery life and general health of your iPhone. Even if the results of the test show a healthy battery, Apple is allowing the replacement to go ahead.

MAKING AN APPOINTMENT IS EASY

You have several options. If you live near ComputerCare’s Santa Clara or Seattle locations, you can simply give us a call to see if we have batteries in stock before bringing your iPhone to us. Alternatively, you can start a ticket through our website here. If you don’t live or work near ComputerCare, Apple has made it easy to find a participating service provider through its support page. Remember, even if you successfully make an appointment, the app doesn’t keep track of battery stock information, so it’s best to phone ahead to be on the safe side.

To use the Apple’s appointment tool, go to Contact Apple Support and click on See Your Products. You’ll also need to sign in using your Apple ID.

Then, follow these instructions:

Step 1 – Choose ‘iPhone’

Step 2 – Choose “Battery, Power & Charging”

Step 3 – Choose “Battery Replacement”

Step 4 – Choose “Bring in for Repair”

(or send in for repair if you can wait – usually two weeks)

Step 5 – Confirm your location and carrier details.

The map will show availability and distance.

To schedule an appointment, click on a store and choose a time slot. DON’T FORGET TO CALL TO CONFIRM BATTERY AVAILABILITY. If batteries are in stock, the replacement process takes less than a day.

Last but definitely not least, before you bring your iPhone in for a battery replacement (or any major repair) BACK IT UP via iCloud or iTunes so that you don’t risk losing precious data.

ComputerCare is an Authorized Service Provider for Apple, Lenovo, HP, Toshiba and other brands. We are proud to offer repairs, servicing, upgrades and more on laptops, desktops and mobile devices, whether under warranty or not.

GOT QUESTIONS? Call us at:
ComputerCare Santa Clara, CA: (650) 475-5500
ComputerCare Seattle, WA: (206) 743-8052

iPhone 7 Repair for “No Service” Issue

        

Apple has announced an iPhone repair program for iPhone 7 devices experiencing a specific ‘No Service’ issue. If your iPhone 7 is exhibiting these symptoms, visit the Apple support site for information about the affected models and the service process: https://www.apple.com/support/iphone-7-no-service/

As an Apple Premium Service Provider, ComputerCare is happy to assist you with repairs for eligible devices, free of charge. We have locations in Santa Clara and Seattle, so contact us for an appointment. You can open a trouble ticket here, or call our Santa Clara or Seattle offices for help.

–       Santa Clara – (650) 475-5500

–       Seattle – (206) 743-8052

And remember, before bringing your iPhone in for service, back it up using iTunes or iCloud.

Tech Tip: Upgrading Your iPhone? Do This First.

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It’s that time of year again when many of us are thinking about upgrading to a new Apple iPhone. If you’re one of those people, there are a few important steps you should take to protect your identity before selling it or giving it to someone in your family.

An old iPhone can be a treasure trove of personal information, not least of which can include personal and work email, access to your subscription services and cloud storage, your photos and apps. Your phone was probably also paired to numerous headphones, car audio systems and a variety of smart watches and other devices throughout your home or office. So, before you sell or give away an iPhone, it’s really important to erase any information about you that you wouldn’t want others to have.

If you use iCloud, like many iPhone and iPad users do, one important thing to remember when deleting data from your device is that you should not manually delete contacts, documents, photos, or any other iCloud information while you’re signed in with your Apple ID. This permanently deletes your content from the iCloud servers and any of your devices signed in to iCloud.

According to an Apple support page, here are the steps you should follow. We’ve included links back to additional support pages for reference:

 

If you still have your iPhone:

  1. If an Apple Watch is paired to your iPhone, first unpair your Apple Watch.
  2. Choose an appropriate method to back up your device using iTunes or iCloud.
  3. Sign out of iCloud, iTunes and App Store.
    • If your iPhone is using iOS 10.3 or later, tap Settings > [your name]. Scroll down and tap Sign Enter your Apple ID password and tap Turn Off.
    • If you’re using iOS 10.2 or earlier, tap Settings > iCloud > Sign Out. Tap Sign Out again, then tap Delete from My [device] and enter your Apple ID password. Then go to Settings > iTunes & App Store > Apple ID > Sign Out.
  4. Return to Settings and tap General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. If Find My iPhone is activated, you may need to enter your Apple ID and password.
  5. If asked for your device passcode or Restrictions passcode, enter it. Then tap Erase [device].
  6. If you’re switching to a non-Apple phone, you should deregister iMessage.
  7. If you have additional questions, you may need to contact your carrier for help transferring service to a new owner.

 

If you no longer have your iPhone

If you didn’t complete the steps above, and you no longer have your device, you should try the following:

  1. If had been using iCloud and Find My iPhone on the iPhone, sign in to iCloud.com or the Find My iPhone app on another device, select the iPhone to be deleted, and click Erase. After the iPhone has been erased, click Remove from Account.
  2. If you can’t follow either of the above steps, you should change your Apple ID password. This won’t remove personal information that’s stored on your old device, but it prevents the new owner from accessing or deleting content from your iCloud account.
  3. If you’re switching to a non-Apple phone, you should deregister iMessage.
  4. If you used Apple Pay with your old iPhone, you can remove your credit or debit cards at iCloud.com. Choose Settings and find which of your devices use Apple Pay, and click the device. Next to Apple Pay, click Remove.

We hope you get many years of use and enjoyment out of your iPhone. And don’t forget, if you’re in the Santa Clara or Seattle areas, ComputerCare handles warranty and non-warranty repairs on all Apple products, including battery replacement, screen repairs and much, much more. Go to our iPhone repair page for more information, and to submit a ticket.

My Experience Replacing a 2012 MacBook Air Battery at ComputerCare

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Hi. My name is Mark Chisholm. I work in public relations, and happen to be part of the team that gets to support ComputerCare. This blog post is a little bit different because I wanted to share my first-hand experience of having my laptop’s battery replaced.

I have a MacBook Air. It’s my primary work laptop, and I find it light and really easy to use. It’s a five-year-old mid-2012 model, and (thanks to the case I keep it in) it still looks and works very well. I don’t do anything too taxing on my Air; in fact, I primarily use just six or seven applications, like Outlook for email, Word, Excel and PowerPoint for documents, Google Chrome as my web browser, Slack for internal messaging and Spotify for music. I occasionally joke with my boss that I’d like to upgrade to a newer machine, but all in all this has been an incredibly reliable laptop that more than meets my needs.

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Old battery: Only 2 hours on a full charge

 

Like many people, I generally have my laptop’s AC plugged in when I’m at the office, so battery life is never an issue. But at home, where I also frequently use my computer, I noticed a sudden drop in battery life over the past couple of months. It wasn’t terrible, but it was enough that I’d try to extend it by turning off Slack and lowering screen brightness. Even then I was only getting a couple of hours out of it without the power cord.

When I saw a ‘service battery’ message pop up, I was naturally a bit more concerned, so I tried resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) to see if that would help. I’d recommend trying that first if you’re having similar battery problems (link to Apple Support’s SMC reset instructions here), but it didn’t work for me, so I knew it was likely to be a battery hardware issue.

The good folks at ComputerCare in Seattle kindly ran some diagnostics on my laptop and quickly identified the battery problem, which would unfortunately require a replacement. All I needed to provide ComputerCare was the model number and serial number of the laptop, and they ordered the appropriate replacement battery. Keep in mind that these are 100 percent genuine Apple parts, so ComputerCare sources them directly from Apple.

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Email confirmation: My replacement battery was on the way.

 

I could have left my laptop there, but I hadn’t done a back-up of the data, so I decided to take it with me and wait a few days while the replacement battery was being shipped. When the day arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from ComputerCare’s Seattle team, confirming that my battery was in stock and they were ready to repair it as soon as I could drop it off. I proceeded to clean up my files and back everything up to iCloud as well as to a large capacity USB thumb drive. The back-up process took longer than I’d expected, but it was still less than an hour, total, and I could keep working while it did that in the background.

When I arrived at ComputerCare’s Seattle office (on 2nd Ave in Belltown), I filled out some simple paperwork and fully expected to leave my laptop for a few days. To my surprise, I was told that it would only take 30 minutes if I was willing to wait. So, after a quick walk down to Drip City Coffee for a drink, I was back to pick up my laptop. I signed some more paperwork and paid for the repairs, and it was done. Did I mention how quick and painless that was?

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New battery: Almost 8 hours on a full charge

 

Needless to say, I’m a very happy camper right now. My battery can last almost an entire work day without being plugged in, and I don’t have to worry about dimming the screen or turning off any apps. And even though I had prepared a spare laptop, I ended up not needing to use one (but I’d still recommend making a back-up of your data, just in case).

Ultimately, I’m really glad that I’ll be able to get at least another year or two out of this laptop. The whole repair process was quick, painless, and cost-effective. That’s music to my (and my boss’) ears.

Finally, a big shout out to the team at ComputerCare in Seattle. Everyone was courteous, helpful, professional, knowledgeable and fast.

If you need a replacement battery, or any other hardware related service, fill out a service ticket here.

T-Mobile Offers AppleCare+, Giving Customers Access to Repair Services Through Apple and ASPs

        

As reported in several outlets last week, T-Mobile has just announced the addition of AppleCare to its existing Premium Device Protection and JUMP! upgrade plans, at no additional cost.

This means that any T-Mobile customers who already pay $12 per month for JUMP! or the carrier’s Premium Device Protection plan, can get AppleCare+ for their iPhone or iPad. If you’re a T-Mobile iPhone or iPad customer with one of these plans, you can now have your device repaired under the AppleCare+ program by ComputerCare. If you have a cracked iPhone screen, you may also be eligible for ComputerCare’s same-day iPhone repair service in the Bay Area.

ComputerCare Awarded Apple’s Premium Service Provider Status

        

We’re proud to announce that ComputerCare has been awarded Apple’s Premium Service Provider status for the second consecutive year. Having been an authorized service provider for Apple since 2008, ComputerCare today repairs the company’s full range of iPhones, MacBooks, iPads and more for a growing base of consumer and business clients.

Upon receiving the coveted ‘PSP’ status, ComputerCare’s president, Georgia Rittenberg, said, “There are many different criteria that a service provider must meet in order to earn Apple’s Premium Service Provider status. It requires outstanding performance from both the technical, and customer service teams. I’m so proud that the hard work and attention to detail we put into every single repair is being recognized and appreciated by our customers. We are thrilled and honored to once again be recognized by Apple for our continued commitment to technical support and customer care.”

Anyone who follows ComputerCare news may remember that back in 2016 we successfully launched a same-day iPhone display repair service in the Bay Area that now repairs hundreds of iPhones every month. In addition, a growing proportion of our business is being driven by an Apple Support app that allows consumers to make a repair appointment directly with ComputerCare or other Authorized Service Providers instead of waiting for help at a Genius Bar. Being the only Premium Service Provider in the Santa Clara area (and one of only 10 PSPs in California), ComputerCare appears at the top of that list.

If you’re experiencing any problems with your iPhone or other Apple products, we’d love to help. You can make an appointment with us directly by going to computercare.net and clicking on “Open a Ticket” at the top of the page.

To buy or not to buy (an extended warranty) – that is the question

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With the holidays rapidly approaching, there’s a good chance that you’re going to purchase a laptop, phone or tablet for that special someone. Personal electronic devices like these make fantastic gifts, but at anywhere between $400 up to $2,000 or more, they also come with a justifiably expensive price tag. So, if you’re wondering whether or not to fork out the extra money to purchase an extended warranty for that shiny new device, here’s the answer. Yes, you should. This is why we think it’s so important:

Most of us know that electronics typically come with a standard one-year warranty when purchased new. What we’re usually not so clear about, however, is what to do if the keyboard stops working, or if the screen cracks after that one-year warranty expires. Sure, there are a plethora of repair shops out there that can fix your device, but it’s so hard to estimate the cost. Without a warranty you’ll be paying for parts and labor, which can quickly add up to the cost of replacing the device with a new one. Ouch.

Retailers and manufacturers each have a variety of warranties that you can purchase as added extras to supplement the standard one-year warranty for device repair. Coverage can very greatly based on the warranty you select, so it’s always important to read the fine print. For example, AppleCare, the warranty service provided by Apple for its range of products, only covers manufacturer defects for their Mac products, but covers accidental damage on their iOS devices. Lenovo on the other hand, offers extended warranties that will cover accidental drops, liquid spills, and even allow you to retain your hard drive if it fails.

Technology isn’t perfect, and accidents happen, which is why solid warranty coverage can take the sting out of paying for repairs. So this holiday season, while you’re out shopping for a new device, consider spending the extra money to extend the life of your new laptop, phone or tablet. It will be well worth it in the long run.

Here’s a fun fact: Manufacturers generally give priority to shipping parts for warranty repair, rather than non-warranty.

Curious what your warranty covers? Here’s a list of the devices we service, and each OEM’s warranty policies:

Happy shopping!

Apple puts the Genius Bar in your Pocket with new Support app

Apple Support App
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Apple has some exciting news for people who use its line of iPhone or iPad products. The company has taken the wraps off a new app, simply called ‘Support.’ The app helps iOS device users find links to support articles, and allows them to schedule appointments with Apple’s authorized service providers, like ComputerCare, and not just at Genius Bars, if they have more serious issues.

The Support app has access to your Apple ID and information about your registered products, making it a snap to find support for the right device. This also makes it possible for the service provider to access warranty information about the specific device, making the whole process faster and more convenient.

For more technical questions, users also have the option to visit Apple’s dedicated Twitter account (@AppleSupport) where they can find product tips, tricks and customer support.

Here’s how Apple describes the new app:

Need help? Apple Support app is your personalized guide to the best options from Apple. Find answers with articles tailored to your products and questions. Call, chat or email with an expert right away, or schedule a callback when it’s convenient. Get a repair at an Apple Store or a nearby Apple Authorized Service Provider. Apple Support is here to help.

Use Apple’s website to reserve repairs at an Authorized Service Provider

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If you’re having hardware issues with your Apple product and need to have it repaired, Apple’s website now makes it easier than ever.

For several years now users have been able to find the location of service providers, like ComputerCare, via the Apple website. Now, users are being given the option to see and reserve an appointment at a Genius Bar or an Authorized Service Provider directly through the website. This makes it much more convenient for users to find the help they need, when they need it, and at a nearby location.

Here are a few steps you’ll need to follow in order to take advantage of this new repair option.

  1. Click on “Start A Repair Request” in the support section of Apple’s website: https://getsupport.apple.com

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2. Select your device:

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3. Select the appropriate hardware issue to help identify the problem. For example, accidental damage.

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4.  You’ll be presented with several options, such as online chat and scheduling a call. If you’d prefer to have the device checked out in person, select “Bring it in for Repair.”

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5. Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll be asked to provide your Apple ID (unless you’re already signed in). If you’ve opted to bring your device in for repair, you’ll be asked for a preferred location. This will bring up a map that shows the availability of Apple Stores and Authorized Service Providers near you. In the screenshot here, you’ll see that ComputerCare has a slot at 9:40 am. If that slot works, reserve it!

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So what happens once you’re here? First, we’ll check your device in and verify warranty status. No matter what the issue may be, we strive to get your product up and running as quickly as possible, usually within just a couple of days.

And don’t forget, for less serious issues or questions, you can always reach out to Apple via the company’s dedicated Twitter account (@AppleSupport), where you’ll get product tips, tricks and customer support.