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A simple battery exchange for a 2014 15" Macbook Pro turned into a major repair - at least that is what Apple's Repair contractor claims. All I got after a very disappointing chat and call with Apple's Support Hotline was this blurry image - apparently the reason why they claim not replace the battery is that they would only to this along with repairing this:

Image from Apple Repair shop

Now, this image tells me nothing but hopefully someone here has an idea what I am looking at. Would I have been able to see the defect prior to sending it off? Would the Genius at the Apple Store have seen this? MBP ran perfectly fine with the exception of the bloated battery.

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  • I get how disappointing it is to find half way into a repair something was hidden or unexpected. I'll answer from my experience and hope that helps you make a call.
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 23:18
  • Was this Apple themselves or an ASP (Authorized Service Provider - 3rd party repair shop)? In any event, it’s not reasonable to make a decision based on an image you can’t see. Request that they resend it so you can make an informed decision.
    – Allan
    Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 18:07

3 Answers 3

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That image is hard to make out, but I trust the people in the process with Apple repair for a couple reasons. One, what's their incentive to be wrong - they get paid to repair product and make you happy. Also, they see things perfectly under inspection even if that photo is blurry.

  • I would make a decision - is it worth paying for this repair?

If so, call back and say you would like them to take much higher resolution photos and see if they can cover some or all the accidental damage, but you're willing to pay if not. Leave the decision for them.

If not, thank them for discovering the damage and ask for it returned unprepared, again that they check with people who had custody if they noticed anything.

Once you have it, then it's up to you to look over things and make a call. My experience is if Apple messes up, they fess up immediately, apologetically, have a very good suggestion how to make me whole. I've not had any experience that was bad and the bloated battery could have expanded and damaged things in transit - it's not likely, but it's the most likely thing I can consider based on many years using Apple to repair work and home computers.

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    You were correct. Once I got the laptop back I could see what happened and returned to the Apple Store. They exceeded my expectations - full display and top case repair AND battery replacement, all at no cost.
    – Geo Vogler
    Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 22:41
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    The defect was likely because someone in the repair chain placed all missing screws back before or after shipment to the repair shop, which then likely caused the top case to deform just enough for the back edge to scratch the bezel at both sides. They never seen this defect before, but since during initial drop off neither me nor the Apple inspection noticed this they agreed it was likely their fault.
    – Geo Vogler
    Commented Aug 30, 2020 at 22:45
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As far as I can tell from the blurry picture, it seems you're looking at the display itself and the bezel that surrounds it. If you look at the lower, right corner, you'll see that the bezel is cracked.

Was the bezel cracked before you sent it in? - If so you had this pre-existing damage that you probably didn't declare.

If the bezel wasn't cracked when you sent it in, it was probably cracked during transportation. You should inform them of this to see if there's an insurance or similar that covers such an event.

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Assuming that’s the display of your MacBook Pro, there are two different ways to view this:

  • There’s no technical reason to repair a cracked display when replacing a top case. While the entire MacBook Pro must be disassembled, the display is only being removed. That same display can be reattached without any issues.

  • There’s a policy that prevents Apple and/or the ASP from working on a machine with a broken display due to the hazardous nature of broken glass.

    • That display can become further damaged resulting in higher liability for the service provider
    • It could cause injury to the technician attempting the repair.

Companies have this policy because of a phenomenon called he who last touched it owns it. In other words, when a technician services a product (not limited to computers) they are responsible for every issue that comes up regardless of how unrelated it is to the original issue. If they find any damage, they will refuse to service it until you address the other issues. Apple does this when they see the moisture detection strips indicating the presence of moisture even though there was no liquid damage or the issue isn't even related.

Would the Genius at the Apple Store have seen this? MBP ran perfectly fine with the exception of the bloated battery.

Yes. They are supposed to inspect the device for any damage prior to being submitted. Every device I’ve taken in, from iPhones to iMacs, for warranty service was inspected. They will take note of any damage.

If this damage was not present when you dropped it off, then you need to make that known. However, if it was, but missed by the technician, then you’ll still be on the hook for the repair.

Now as to being related to the swollen battery, it’s very unlikely that the swollen battery would cause this because the battery is down by the palm rest and the top of the display (when closed). Since it appears that the damage is near the bottom of the display, it would be closer to the far end of the top case or where the logic board would be. Your case would have to be completely distorted from a swollen battery to cause that kind of damage.

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