A Very Personal MacBook Pro Disaster, Part 2

In Part 1 of this saga, I described the origins of the family 2018 MacBook Pro’s failure, my reaction to that, and how it was scheduled for warranty repair.

… a 2018 MacBook Pro in my family has totally failed, a few months after purchase, via the USB-C ports. The external display flickers. External disk drives and SSDs take 20 minutes to mount, then disappear randomly. An external keyboard will work for an hour, then just quit. All four USB-C ports are affected.

Apple Underpromising and Overdelivering. Again

Appointment in hand, we took the MBP to our local Apple retail store in the mall on July 5th. Pretty much on schedule, a technician arrived and listened to the story of woe. Previously prepared was a page and a half of single-spaced notes describing the trouble-shooting process which the tech read. This detail seemed to impress him.

He booted up the FileVaulted MBP with a special key combo and connected to it with his iPad. (Bluetooth?) He observed the status of the tests not on the MBP display but on an app on his iPad.

Very cool.

The hardware diagnostic revealed nothing of interest, but the tech said that wasn’t unexpected. Based on the description of all the problems with the ports and, perhaps, his sizing up of the customer’s competence, he declared that the course of action would be to send it off to a factory repair center for analysis. There, the Mac is run and analyzed more thoroughly for a much longer time looking for problems. This would “take about seven days.”

So far so good.

On July 9th, four days later, I got an email saying that the MBP was ready for pickup. Wow.

Back to the store on July 10th.

We checked in with the concierge—who no longer stands at the entrance. Instead he’s (she’s) far back into the store. I had a short chat with him. As I suspected, the concierges no longer stand at the entrance, as if guarding the door. This is a gatekeeper approach and is possibly off-putting. The concierge explained that Apple wants customers to feel free to enter the store, perhaps wander around first. This is very cool, and indicates that Apple is constantly learning.

After a short wait, the MBP was brought out along with an awesome piece of thick paper. “AppleCare Service.” It listed what was replaced.

  1. Touch ID Board
  2. Logic Board
  3. eDP Flex Cable, TCON to Logic Board
  4. IO Board

Whether all those components had failed is unknown. Some parts were probably replaced as a matter of policy given the diagnostics and/or description of the symptoms. Or repair experiences with that model.

The very cordial Apple employee carefully explained that there was a new macOS on the MBP (10.14.3, which is what it shipped with), offered to help get started with the setup (declined) and that while fully repaired under warranty, this was not a “one-and-done” affair. The relationship would continue should there be any more problems.

Of course, one might claim that this goes without saying. But I appreciated that he explicitly said it. This demonstrated excellent training.

Back home, the MBP was put through a series of tests. The results will be reported in the next chapter of this saga.

4 thoughts on “A Very Personal MacBook Pro Disaster, Part 2

  • We had a similar experience w/ a MacBook Air about 5-6 years ago.

    VERY IMPORTANT: check the AppleCare status of this machine. With a new logic board your AppleCare subscription deadline/endpoint should be reset.

  • The problem now with the T2 chip is that if the disk, controller or main logic board fail, all is lost. Apple should allow to enable or disable T2 chip encryption by the user. There is no reason to use such encryption on public computers at the University, for instance, and it a waste of energy and environmental aggression.

    1. I’m not sure what “environmental aggression” is but I am glad that Apple has encryption on by default and has no way of turning it off. Can there be data loss? Of course, that’s why we use Time Machine etc.

  • I’m enjoying reading this experience John. You’ve given me some tips about the Apple Store I hadn’t thought of before (one and done affair etc.). Thank you for writing about it.

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