Can cheap AppleCare on eBay be trusted?

by Torley Wong on 8 February 2009 26 comments
Photo: kiyong2

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.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

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

Another reinforced:

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.

Conclusion

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!

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Guest's picture

I'm debating getting an ipod soon. I'll have to keep this in mind if I decide to get it.

-Nate

Guest's picture
EN

Timely post. I remember getting a great deal on AppleCare for my iPod video and Macbook Pro when my school had a mega sale. Now I'm looking around for AppleCare for my iPhone and this is worth looking into...thanks Torley!

Guest's picture
Lissa

If anyone is still unsure about purchasing AppleCare from eBay, you can also get it from Amazon at a discount. While the discount is less than what you could find on eBay, at least you know Amazon is a reputable seller. I just got the MacBook Pro version, which normally retails for $350 for $300. I registered it this past weekend with absolutely no problems.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have now, as of today, purchased AppleCare twice this way. Once on my iBook years ago and once for my MacBook today. Both worked flawlessly. Just pay attention to your seller's feedback rating. Both were pretty close to $100. Massive savings for something I will not likely use.

Thanks for reminding me that I need to do this for my iPod, too! It's about to run out this month.

Guest's picture

And even transferred the warranty when I sold the computer with a few months remaining. Just make sure you get a sales receipt as they use this when transferring the agreement to the new owner. And file it in a very safe place!

BTW - I have done iTunes gift cards also with no trouble to date. Alsomassive savings.

Guest's picture
Guest

How do you get a sales receipt if you buy it on eBay?

Guest's picture
Guest

Be careful :
If you have a problem with a machine and call Apple, they will need the certificate (you receive it by email after the registration of the code, so no problem for that) AND the bill to prove the legality of your purchase...

The problem is that a reseller on ebay never send you a bill.

(sorry for mistakes I'm not english)

Guest's picture
Guest

How can the author conclude suceess if he never tried to use the warranty coverage? Dont be too quick to believe him.

Fact is you need a valid receipt. One from an authorized source.

You need the box and its serial number.

The reason you dont see negative feedback on ebay is that these guys change accounts and you as the buyer do not become aware of the problem until long after the purchase.

Even paypal will offer no recourse cause you only have 45 days to complain.

If you have to buy...get a box, insist on a receipt, and try to get from an authorized source.

BTW...check out Apples Terms of Service and you will see that they will ask for a receipt (proof of legitimate purchase).

Guest's picture
Guest

This receipt stuff is all BS. Fact is, no technician (whether Apple store or independent authorized Apple service) asks you for anything. They don't even need the certificate because all of your warranty information is lodged in the Apple system at the time of registration. All they need is your computer's serial number (on the computer itself), and they can see if you are covered by Applecare. In fact, you can see this for yourself on the Apple website:

https://selfsolve.apple.com/GetWarranty.do

I have owned Macs for over 10 years, have had multiple Applecare repairs in different countries, and never has anyone asked for "proof" that I am registered. The only time it might come up is if there is evidence that your computer is stolen, or for whatever reason your details are not input in the system correctly. That's the only reason they ask you to save your receipt. In this case, just print and keep the email they send you, and call them. Seriously, Apple is not one of those retailers that is going to try to screw you over by saying "oh, you didn't save all 20 pieces of information from your purchase? too bad, no warranty".

Guest's picture
Ben

You might think you did well on your purchase - but check in a few months if not now. You will see that the applecare has been removed from your product notwithstanding your "purchase."

Apple does not sell it that cheap.

http://reviews.ebay.com/FAKE-APPLECARE-APPLE-CARE-A-warning-to-buyers_W0...

I am a smart purchaser and even I got suckered into this.

Guest's picture
Marian

My macbook pro broke completely the week before my regular applecare was about to run out, so I bought one off ebay so that while it was in for repairs they wouldn't screw me over for the old one running out.

It ended up that the entire unit had to be replaced by apple. They would NOT transfer my newly purchased applecare bought from ebay because they needed verification from an authorised reseller that it was bought from them.

So in conclusion, DO NOT BUY APPLECARE FROM EBAY! It could bite you in the ass if you actually have to have anything to do with apple themselves rather than a reseller.

Guest's picture
Guest

You can only buy Applecare within the first year after purchase... so I'm not sure how you managed to but one "A week before my regular applecare was about to run out".

I bought Applecare care on eBay very cheaply, registered online fine, and had 2 problems about a year later for which I took the machine in for repairs - no problem at all, no questions asked, no need to provide a receipt.

Guest's picture
Guest

The guide above is badly researched. It's really not safe to do this on eBay - if you're spending over-the-odds on a Mac, why cut huge corners with the warranty?

Here's a lengthy online discussion on this topic with many salient warnings.

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=690859

Guest's picture
Guest

I purchased two AppleCare policies from her for an iPhone 3GS and a 15" MacBook Pro.

I thought that everything was fine until I was talking with an Apple rep regarding a separate issue. He informed me that my iPhone AppleCare warranty was actually already registered to another iPhone 3G and not my 3GS.

To my surprise, Sherry actually responded to my e-mail and provided me another AppleCare serial number. But that one was already registered too... The third number provided by Sherry was confirmed as being good by Apple. (Apple tells me that the MBP number is a good one.)

My impression is that "Sherry" is selling the same number to multiple buyers. I was told by an Apple rep that when it comes to AppleCare registration, it's First Come, First Served. The initial registration will be the one that is honored even though the online registration system apparently accepts multiple AppleCare registrations of the same number. The buyer won't know that there is a problem with the warranty until he/she attempts to use it.

After my experience I am sticking with Apple Authorized Resellers and avoiding eBay. The L.A. Computer Company seems to consistently have the best AppleCare prices and I have had good experiences buying from the company.

Guest's picture
Guest

I can not comment on the safety of purchasing an APP on Ebay recently, but I have purchased them in the past (through reputable sellers) with no problems when needing to use it for service through Apple. The only problem I encountered was when I was getting a MacPro replaced (through Applecare) and they said I could get a pro-rated refund on the APP from the previous MacPro rather than transfer it to the new one. Without an actual receipt from a retailer they would not refund me the pro-rated cost. It was still cheaper than an initial APP purchase through Apple though.  kdd

Guest's picture
Guest

There are legit sellers on Ebay, and you get get AppleCare for less than half of the retail price. I've done it. It works, it's legit. One seller in particular has a 600+ positive feedback rating, with the huge majority of transactions being the sale of AppleCare. Find this seller and you'll be in good shape. After purchase at 9pm, I had my # emailed to me and was registered with Apple by 10:30pm. And I saved about $150.

Guest's picture
Jennifer

Sorry about the major bump, but thought I'd add my few cents.

I got my AppleCare for my iMac and MacBook both on eBay - though I got them in a box (though for free shipping they would have sent just the code, however I felt somehow more secure with a sealed box). These days digital delivery (just the code) isn't technically allowed on eBay, but they don't seem to enforce it if you're interested. Be sure & check the feedback and length of time on eBay as well.

The shipping was minimal anyway for the box. I can't remember exactly what I paid, however it was significantly less than Apple or other internet resellers charge (such as Amazon). It's worked perfectly, unfortunately the time is almost up.

I got both my Macs on Amazon using their financing with the Amazon.com store card, which was great. The costs of the Macs were less and the year financing (with no interest) was very cool. Good luck to all!

Guest's picture
Janete

I'm an Apple Authorized computer dealer.
Here's the scoop on "Cheap Applecare":
Applecare sells wholesale at about a 30% discount off of retail. ONLY an APPLE authorized dealer can purchase the REAL Apple product, FROM Apple.
A dealer has the right to discount and sell at whatever price they choose, but if someone is selling at more than a 30% discount, that would be below dealer cost. This is suspect.
Ask if the seller is an Apple Authorized dealer, and get the business name.
Buying that way is the only SAFE way to go.

Guest's picture

i purchased a factory sealed apple care protection plan for my ipod on ebay. i went to register it and found out it was for a itouch. several months later i ran across a buy on an itouch and decided to use my warranty. the online registration requested a receipt from an authorized apple reseller. i contacted the lady i purchased it from. she did not have the receipt but said she purchased it at best buy. no receipt from authorized dealer means no warranty. the app rep said the numbers and everything about the warranty was legit except i need the receipt. no receipt no warranty. zpple gets the 59 bucks and joe public gets zero.

Guest's picture
Chris

I bought my applecare off of Ebay, and have used it twice. I went with a trusted seller. I can only speak from my experience.

Guest's picture
Guest

An important part of this discussion is that applecare available only once for the life of your device.
After my applecare for my macbook expired, I thought I could renew coverage for another 3 years. I was ready to purchase for the 2nd time from a reseller. I called apple to ask if the part number on the resellers website was compatible with my macbook. To my surprise I learned that applecare can only be used once for the life of the device. Glad I checked!

Guest's picture
Guest

I bought eBay applecare and thought it was a great deal until I needed a repair a year later and found out my warranty was void. Paypal has a 45 day contestation window and there is nothing that Apple can do to help me without the original box that I never received.

As it turned out, my particular registration code was sent to me from somewhere in Korea, where the same number was also registered to a different computer. Long story short, I'm out $100 and have no coverage.

Guest's picture
Apple Advisor

As an Apple Call-Center Advisor, I receive more calls regarding these "discounted" Apple Care Plans than you could shake a stick at... and I hate it. The truth is, more often than not, people will sell you the same number a hundred times, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it through Apple.... HOWEVER, if you ARE planning on buying a code, or have bought one, and you feel that you are being/have been defrauded, you should contact your local Federal-level authorities immediately. More often than not, in the US, this falls under the level of FBI. Have ready all information you can gather on your own, and report it as soon as you can.
You may not get the Apple Care Plan, but you WILL be able to get your problem fixed, to a degree.

Guest's picture
Sebastian

Long after this article is written I got here brought by a Google search. I did purchase Applecare for both my iPod and my wife's iPhone on eBay (boxed product), and used them for cable replacement and for a battery replacement on the iPhone (all after the standard 1 yr warranty has expired) and we have had no issues whatsoever. Now I'm still wondering however where these applecare plans come from and whether it's a good idea to rely on them for new 4Ss that we are getting.

Guest's picture
Bo

i bought an apple care for a mac mini 2011 on eBay in
09/21/11 but the product is useless, i couldn't register the apple care because apple wants the original receipt from an apple or authorized reseller. I contacted the seller four times with no succeed. Please be careful when you buy apple care from eBay, ask first if the seller have the original receipt.

Guest's picture
Vaibhav Uprety

Would suggest everone to read the official page in eBAY below before buying cheap Apple protection plan

http://reviews.ebay.com/FAKE-APPLECARE-APPLE-CARE-A-warning-to-buyers_W0...