Can cheap AppleCare on eBay be trusted?
After my previous article about too-good-to-be-true iTunes gift cards, I turned my attention to another discounted Apple item: AppleCare, essentially an extended warranty for your Apple products, including Mac computers and those omnipresent iPods. Like so much insurance, it promises "peace of mind". There's just one problem for many: the price.
Especially in today's recessed times, having to pony up to $350 (for the MacBook Pro) for 3 total years of tech support and phone coverage can be hard. That's why a lot of sellers are selling cheap AppleCare.
My AppleCare adventure
In my ongoing tradition to not recommend something unless I've done it first — helping you mitigate risks by diving through that unexplored portal beforehand! — I landed on eBay, and easily found numerous listings for discount AppleCare. I have a Mac Pro, and AppleCare normally costs $250, but I spotted it for $92 — that's $158 saved!
After some scanning, I paid 480sherry, who has a 99.9% feedback rating, and as of this writing is continuing to sell AppleCare. Surely those 2,200 buyers can't be wrong, right? In my own experience, I was pleased to receive a code less than a day afterwards.
That's right, just a code you enter at Apple's site along with your product serial number. I did so, then received an email "certificate" confirming its validity from Apple. No actual box, as is often the case — but I encourage you to scrutinize each seller, for some offer this option at a higher cost.
Does this mean you miss out on anything? Not really, since the TechTool Deluxe diagnostic suite, which would normally be bundled in the physical package, is a free download at Apple's site. You still need to burn it to DVD, which might be a problem if you're really not tech-savvy, but the software itself is included.
What's the real story here?
Unlike the distinctly more dubious world of iTunes gift cards, AppleCare is morally relaxed. I asked over a dozen discount AppleCare sellers how they managed to do it, the answers were consistent in most cases: they bought it in bulk and are passing the savings on. One fellow said:
We buy from dealers and other sources, some going out of business, some trying to reduce excessive inventories. Everything is 100% Apple, so no risk to you. We sell hundreds of these each month
I buy in bulk so I recieve a better price that the average person. There are no limitations. Thanks for looking.
Further research also substantiates this, altho as is par for the course, there's the usual skepticism. There've also been academic situations where teacher/student discounts are used. Outside of eBay, there are some strange sights, such as this guy hawking bulk AppleCare from Singapore, with the most thread self-bumps I've ever seen.
I've had no problems with my cheap AppleCare coverage so far: I haven't had a troublesome incident to put it to the test, but I haven't received a notification from Apple nullifying my cert either.
Provided that the eBay seller is backed by an excellent reputation as in my example, you could easily get AppleCare at a much lower price than face value. I only wish the same could be applied to the cost of Macs themselves. ;)
Have you had an adventure in cheap AppleCare? Do share!