Back in mid October, I posted about Apple replacing 1 TB Seagate drives used in iMacs from 2009 through 2011. Today was the day we had scheduled the drive replacement for our 2009 iMac. We made sure we had a current backup of the drive's contents, then erased the drive, reinstalled Mountain Lion, and took the iMac into the Genius Bar at our local Apple Store.
Courtesy of Apple
Our appointment was for 1:45 pm; we arrived around 1:30 pm. After checking in, we had a short wait while the Genius Bar staff took care of an iPhone that wasn't working. The customer got a free replacement and left in a happy mood. Then it was our turn. After unboxing the iMac and connecting it to the store's network, the genius performed a netboot and ran a hardware test. Seems we actually didn't need to reinstall the OS; a lesson learned for next time.
The hardware test didn't turn up any unknown issues, so we were all set to have the hard drive swapped out with a replacement. The genius noticed that the iMac's display has a large area on the left that is noticeably dimmer than the rest of the display. We explained that we brought the iMac in about 18 months ago to have it looked at (shortly after the warranty period expired, unfortunately). We decided at the time that the repair cost, which would have almost paid for a base model Mac mini, wasn't worth it, and that we could live with the problem.
That's when the genius made us an offer we couldn't refuse. Since the iMac had to be opened up to replace the hard drive, he offered to do some troubleshooting on the display problem. It's possible that the problem isn't the display itself, but one of the display driver boards that governs how the backlight is controlled. If the backlight driver turns out to be the problem, he can replace it for less than $100. If the display itself turns out to be the problem, we're still going to pass on repairing it, but there'll be no charge this time, since he has to disassemble the Mac to replace the hard drive anyway.
We thought that was a very nice offer, but it gets better. In order to determine if the problem is the backlight driver board, he has to order a replacement, which will take a few days to come in. If the board turns out to be the problem, we'll pay to replace it. But if it turns out that the board isn't the problem, he won't charge us anything for checking it. Is that great service or what?
Our iMac is sitting in the backroom at the Apple Store, waiting for the replacement board to come in. We'll let you know how it turns out, in about 5 days or so. Either way, we'll at least get a shiny new 1 TB hard drive.