This past week I have noticed that when when I have been using my MacBook on battery it would get to about 30% charge and then the machine would just completely die! Power off, no warning messages or anything.
So yesterday it happened again and as I picked the machine up, I noticed this:
and on closer inspection:
The battery is making a break for freedom! Not good!
I did a quick google for similar problems and sure enough, it seems like a problem found with early MacBook Pro’s (Mine is a “W8609” serial number which I am led to believe is one made in week 9 of manufacture).
So I decided to take an afternoon trip to the Apple Store in Manchester (at the Trafford Centre), I booked an appointment with the Genius Bar on the web site which was an entirely painless experience and sure enough when I turned up at the store my name was up in lights above the genius bar, this is an extremely slick process and the only flaw seems to be that not many of the people who were coming for help actually knew they had to book an appointment. Anyway the guys at the Genius Bar couldn’t actually help because apparently they don’t stock batteries for MacBook Pro’s they sent me away with instructions to visit http://depot.info.apple.com and order a battery replacement. Unfortunately you can only order battery replacements for PowerBooks and iPods there rather than a MacBook Pro so I ended up calling AppleCare phone support this morning where someone helped me through the process of ordering a replacement battery, so I could have saved myself a trip to Manchester but I am glad I didn’t (more about why I thought it was worthwhile later!).
I am guessing that this problem is limited to US MacBooks (I bought mine in California, nothing like going right to the source, eh? :) because everyone who looked at it had never seen anything like it before and the guy from AppleCare UK support was so interested in what was happening he has created an case for the engineering department to look into and wanted me to send these photos to them so they could investigate. I did mention that he should do a quick google as it was very easy to find other people with the same issue.
So what is my impression of AppleCare after all this? I have mixed feelings at the moment but generally positive. On the plus side in today’s culture of having to argue tooth and nail to get manufacturers to admit fault and provide hardware replacements it is a huge benefit to be able to easily book an appointment with a real person and to be able to go along and be able to show someone and say “Look, there, its broken!” rather than having to try and explain it to someone over the phone so I liked that a lot. On the other hand, if you are going to offer technical support at your retail stores then why would you not stock basic removable parts like batteries?
As for the phone support, well it was generally good and the guy I spoke to was nothing but polite and showed a genuine interest in escalating this problem to the engineering team. My only issue with it was the amount of time that it took to get this done, I was on the phone for 54 minutes (at my expense, of course) to arrange a battery replacement!
I will update this when the new battery arrives to finish the tale properly, in the mean time I am glad that I can still use the machine without the battery installed :)
Update 2: The battery finally arrived today, 4 full days after reporting the problem. For a simple battery replacement this is not good enough. Lets hope that this one is better behaved at least :)