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Much to my horror, my MacBook screen cracked the other day and had to be replaced. I took the machine to an Apple Store and a Genius checked it in for repair.

The Genius said that they would, perfectly understandably, have to run diagnostics software after the hardware was replaced in order to satisfy themselves that everything was installed correctly.

Less understandably, he insisted that this diagnostics software (which is simply testing hardware functionality) must run from a user account in my installation of OSX—rather than, say, the recovery partition, or a wholly different installation of OSX (eg one they keep on an external drive from which they can boot if they so choose).

Fortunately, I had already enabled the FileVault 2 guest account (the one that boots to its own limited environment) and the Genius said this would suffice. Sadly, now the repair has completed, I have received a call complaining that it is insufficient. They are also refusing to return the machine to me without the diagnostics having been run, even though I have volunteered to take full responsibility for the consequences.

Since I have a backup of the whole computer, I suggested that they just wipe it and reinstall OSX, in order that they can then do whatever they want: I'll just restore once I get it home. They insist that they're unable to do this without me first unlocking the drive (which obviously is not true—not least because they would solve this for customers who genuinely have lost both their passwords and their recovery keys, but also because very simple instructions are given here).

Anyway, I'm not giving out my password (which is also my key to many online resources) over the phone to a complete stranger, even if they do work for Apple. I would be willing to go to the store to tap it in for them, but it's out of my way and the diagnostics apparently take up to 5 hours to run—so I'll end up having to make a second journey to pick up the machine once they're complete.

In all, they are making this so inexcusably painful—and frankly I'm more inclined to make a point: go there, buy an external HDD, install OSX onto it and boot that before returning it for a full refund! (If they insist on booting from my internal drive, I could just copy the encrypted partition to the external drive, then reinstall on the internal, then copy back once all is done).

Is there any way that I can persuade them to stop being so stupid, and save us all a ton of wasted time and effort?

  • @Downvoter: Care to comment? – eggyal Jun 8 '16 at 1:19
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    Not to get you more worked up, but it does seem a little silly. Shouldn't the diagnostics only need to be to press the power button and see if they can see the screen? Having said that, try confirming how long you would need to stay there to enter the passcode manually before you can take it home. Also, maybe this isn't the time for you to hear this, but you really should not use the same password for your computer as you do for your online accounts, and actually you should have different passwords for your more important online accounts. – kal-al Jun 8 '16 at 1:43
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In my experience they don't insist anything except you ensure you have a backup of the data should service erase it.

If they don't have your password, they can boot to another OS to test. If the issue is your software, they won't be able to advise - but even knowing you have OK hardware will help you then finish the troubleshooting.

Perhaps your frustration with the repair is coloring your recollection? It would take them 15 minutes to wipe your drive and test things and if you aren't in a position to fulfill that portion of the repair agreement that's causing the delay and both sides regret entering into the agreement that wasn't "by the book". Keep in mind if they have to take hours to work around your not having a backup - other customers are delayed in their repair and maybe that along with the high volume of repairs that happen at the end of the school year.

Perhaps the time quote was incorporating the backlog and not that your machine itself was taking that long on the test bench.

  • Yes, this is what I had expected—but is not what has happened in this case. How might I help to bring them to this viewpoint? – eggyal Jun 8 '16 at 1:26
  • I would call back or revisit and ask if there's anything you can do to help resolve the repair. If you were a bit short or hot - an apology might go a long way. If you were totally cool and just vented a little here, no apology would be needed. I've had to renegotiate many a repair - and often all it takes is for one person to say out loud - "boy, I'm a bit worked up - can you help me reset and figure out how we can work better together?" Once it's not personal - great options tend to arise with a short bit of direct back and forth to renegotiate what needs to be done . – bmike Jun 8 '16 at 1:35
  • Thank you for your thoughts. The conversations with them so far have been extremely cordial and constructive—the venting is indeed here alone, and at that only to detail my predicament. FWIW, the question did mention that I have a complete backup of my computer (which I both confirmed to them on checking it in, and have reiterated when I suggested that they wipe it) so I'm not sure to what your third para refers? Anyhow, I'll give the store a call again first thing tomorrow and hopefully I'll get a different person more amenable to this approach. – eggyal Jun 8 '16 at 1:44
  • Having spoken with the store again today, it emerges that they only wanted the firmware password (which I had already given them) and not the FileVault one, so all is indeed now sorted. Since the question arose through a miscommunication, I'm not sure whether it's of much use to the wider community (kind of equivalent to being off topic due to "typological error" on stack overflow)? Please feel free to delete the question if you think fit. Thank you again for your help. – eggyal Jun 8 '16 at 12:16
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  1. filevault is a security protocol. it blocks anyone else from using your OS and your system. Your system (OS) is an integral part of the equation in trouble-shooting whats wrong with your mac (primarily because 90%+ of the time, the loose nut on the keyboard is the cause of the issue)...

  2. you can't simply 'unlock it'... there is no unlock..that's why it's a secure system...

  3. If you brought your system to me for repairs and demanded it still have filefault locked, i'd simply hand it back to you and still charge you $100 for the service. It's extremely poor thinking on your part to not provide the technician with the methods he needs to rpeair your system.

  • What are you talking about? The screen was cracked! The glass was shattered and liquid crystal was spilling out. There's nothing wrong with my OS. Any hardware diagnostics utility can be run on the same hardware without booting into my OS. You suggest FileVault nevertheless "blocks" anyone from using my "system", but that is palpably untrue, since one could still (for example) boot my "system" to an OS that resides on an externally attached drive—mentioned in my question. You can simply "unlock" FileVault: eg running diskutil cs unlockVolume from Recovery mode. – eggyal Jun 8 '16 at 6:18
  • Also, for what it's worth, Apple have managed to "diagnose" this problem and fix it already without booting the computer. They called me yesterday to say the new hardware has already been fitted—they simply won't release it until the diagnostics utility has confirmed that it is working properly. Also, your answer totally fails to address that I have also suggested that they wipe the computer and install a fresh OS in order to run their diagnostics. <rant removed by moderator> – eggyal Jun 8 '16 at 6:21
  • Frank. A quibble, but FileVault only encrypts one specific volume and anyone can boot any other copy of OS X when FileVault is enabled. If a Mac has firmware password - that would block service booting from any other OS. It's a good answer and might help others learn, but it might need an edit to explain how FV and firmware together would block booting – bmike Jun 8 '16 at 11:46
  • @eggyal please be nice. Pointing out errors in assumption helps everyone learn. Calling names makes one look petty - especially when it's in response to someone that took the time to try and help you. – bmike Jun 8 '16 at 11:48
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    Evidently we're not going to see eye to eye on this. I took my hardware to be repaired, because the hardware had been physically damaged. It was not the software that caused the screen to crack, and Apple didn't dream it was either: which is why they fixed the computer, ran their diagnostics and returned it to me all without knowing my FileVault password or booting into my OS. Thanks for your thoughts, all the same. – eggyal Jun 11 '16 at 22:36

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