Apple quoted me $1,500 to repair a MacBook Pro, so I paid less than $500 at an 'unauthorised' Apple repair shop instead

  • Apple quoted me $US1,475 to repair a liquid-damaged MacBook Pro.
  • An unauthorised Apple repair shop quoted me $US425 to perform the same repair.
  • I went with the unauthorised repair shop.
  • The repair shop replaced a single chip, whereas Apple would likely have replaced the entire logic board that hosts the most important parts of a laptop.
  • Going the cheaper route was easily the best option for me, but it might not be for everyone.

When my wife’s 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro stopped working, I did what most Mac users might do: bring it to the Apple Store.

I was expecting the repairs to be costly. But when Apple quoted me $US1,500 to repair the MacBook Pro, I was shocked.

To be specific, the repair would cost me $US1,475, before tax. With taxes, the total cost would surely rise above the $US1,500 mark.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get AppleCare+ when I bought the laptop, which would have helped cover the cost of the repair. More on that later.

Indeed, it turned out that my wife had accidentally spilled water on her MacBook Pro, and to repair it, it would cost us almost the same price we paid for the laptop when we bought it refurbished.

Logic board corrosion liquid damageAntonio Villas-BoasThe blue stuff is corrosion from water.

Based on the quote, I suspect Apple’s repair would involve replacing the “logic board,” which includes the most expensive parts of a computer, like the processor, the RAM, the storage, and the graphics processor. Without a logic board, a laptop is essentially just an empty shell and a screen.

Before committing to Apple’s repair or buying a whole new computer, I had one more option to check out: an “unauthorised” Apple repair shop in New York City that fixes Apple products, called Rossmann Repair Group, run by Louis Rossmann. (“Unauthorised,” in this case, means Rossmann Repair Group doesn’t follow Apple’s protocols and procedures to repair a device.)

Rossmann’s repair quote also shocked me, but in a good way: $US425.

Compared to Apple’s $US1,475 quote, Rossmann’s quote was significantly more tempting, so I went with the unauthorised option.

After tax, Rossmann’s repair cost me around $US465, and I saved myself about $US1,000. Today, my wife’s MacBook Pro is running just as well as it did before she accidentally gave it the water treatment. And she still has all her data, too.

Why the unauthorised repair cost so much less than Apple’s quote

Rossmann’s repair team replaced a single, small chip on the logic board, instead of replacing the entire logic board, which is what I suspect Apple would have done.

Mac laptop logic boardYouTube/Louis RossmannA Mac laptop logic board contains everything that makes the computer actually work.

It’s entirely possible that Apple’s repair team could have also replaced the single chip for a dramatically lower repair cost, but Apple takes a no-risk-whatsoever approach when it comes to repairs, especially with liquid damage.

Even if a laptop appears to work properly after a simple minor chip replacement, it’s possible that liquid damage could cause problems later down the line. With that risk in mind, Apple would rather totally replace the logic board, even if it’s going to come with a huge price tag. That way, Apple and its customers have the guaranteed peace of mind that the laptop is fully functional, just as it was when you first unboxed it.

But, Apple’s version of “peace of mind” can come with a huge cost, especially since we didn’t have AppleCare+. With liquid damaged Mac laptops, you’re essentially getting a new computer – albeit with the same specs as the original – if you go the Apple repair route. Only the shell and the display are original.

Should everyone take their broken Mac laptops to “unauthorised” repair shops?

It depends.

My experience was at a single unauthorised repair shop in New York City, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the experience others might have at other unauthorised repair shops around the country, or world. I can only say that my experience at Rossmann Repair Group was excellent and significantly cheaper than Apple’s option.

If you need to repair your Apple computer, the route you take will likely depend on the specific issue you’re having with your device, your budget, and how much you value “peace of mind.”

It also depends on the warranty status of your Mac, and whether or not you bought the AppleCare+ extended warranty. If it’s still under warranty, you could get a repair done for free, depending on the issue. Rossman even suggests you take it to Apple if an issue can be fixed free of charge because the device is still under warranty.

Macbook pro repairAntonio Villas-Boas/Business InsiderRossmann himself opened up the laptop to check it out.

With AppleCare+, you’re covered for two accidental damages, which includes liquid damage. A liquid damage repair with AppleCare+ would cost you $US300 on top of the $US380 price of AppleCare+ for a 15-inch MacBook Pro. So, had I bought AppleCare+, Apple’s repair would have cost me $US680, slightly over $US200 more than Rossmann’s repair.

Despite the great experience I had with Rossmann, I would have gone the Apple route had I bought AppleCare+ for my wife’s MacBook Pro. For an extra $US200, I’d get that peace of mind and zero risk of further issues related to the original liquid damage.

But saving $US1,000? I think I’ll take and accept the risk.

For those who are out of warranty or didn’t buy AppleCare+ and are facing massive repair quotes from Apple, taking your device to Rossman Repair Group or another trusted unauthorised repair store is realistically good option. If you’re outside of New York City, Rossmann accepts mail-ins for repairs, too. Otherwise, you could always research an unauthorised repair shop near you – be sure to read online reviews, and get a feel for the place before committing your computer and your money. Again, if you don’t go with Apple for first-party repairs, there’s no guarantee their repair will completely fix the problem, especially in the long-term.

You could also take a broken Apple laptop to an authorised repair shop, where you might get a cheaper quote than Apple’s own. But that’s not a guarantee. Either way, your best bet it to check out all your options and their prices.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.