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Mac @ Apple Store or Best Buy?

by saeinsocal / March 5, 2011 7:03 AM PST

I have a question, and I seem to keep going back and forth on it. I want to buy a MacBook. I am a teacher, so if I go to the Apple Store, I get about $100 off the price. Also, I can get Apple Care at the Apple Store. If I go to Best Buy, I don't get the $100 discount, but I get 18 months same-as-cash. At Best Buy there is no Apple Care, but I can buy the Geek Squad protection. Now I am wondering, is there something I am missing? Is there a benefit to one or the other that would tip the scales?

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Even if you buy
by Jimmy Greystone / March 5, 2011 7:30 AM PST

Even if you buy at Best Buy, you can always buy AppleCare so long as you're still within the limited warranty period of the laptop. It isn't something that has to be purchased at the same time as the laptop.

I don't know if that helps tip the scales one way or the other, but it's something you should know. Also, be sure to read the fine print on those same as cash deals. Usually, if you don't pay the balance in full before the end of the grace period, they retroactively apply a pretty nasty interest rate on the full purchase price. You have to remember that it's a business, and they're looking to make money. They aren't offering outstanding terms out of the kindness of their hearts.

And the best buy store warranty is only good at best buy, but applecare is good at any Apple store or AASP in the world. Of course the AppleCare won't cover things like liquid damage or accidental damage. Not sure if the Best Buy one does or not, but something to look into.

Generally speaking, when it comes to computers, I prefer to stick to manufacturer's warranties. It just kind of depends on who is offering the store warranty. Best Buy probably isn't going to screw around too much, but a lot of times it can vary store by store what kind of service you're going to get. I work for a place similar to Best Buy's Geek Squad, and let's just say some of the stores you just know are going to be trouble. Just recently, I was going back and forth with some service manager for about a month. They kept insisting that a drive on a customer laptop needed to be replaced because it wouldn't read discs that they burned with it. After going back and forth 2-3 times, with a 3-4 day transit time each way, I finally proved to them that it was the el cheapo discs they were using as tests discs. I've had to embarrass a couple of other people. One person diagnosed a bad HDD, another a bad logic board, and I fixed it by reinstalling the OS. So, not all service techs are created equal, and even at Apple you'll take your chances. I've gone into some local Apple stores and gotten nothing but blank looks when I ask even a fairly simple technical question.

Put simply, retail is a brutal market. Most of the people with any actual skill will find a better job and leave as quickly as possible, so the people who hang around a long time are usually not the ones you want anywhere near your system. Management at the store level can change week to week with people being promoted, demoted, fired, moved to another store, etc.

So, I guess what I'm getting at here, is take a little time to get to know your local Best Buy and Apple Store store(s). Being a teacher, exploit your position a little and maybe ask some of the more technically inclined kids in your class (assuming they're old enough to be able to give you a worthwhile answer) what they think. Maybe ask other faculty members if they have any experience with either place. If your school has an IT person, they'd probably be a good one to ask. Forget things like customer service, focus in on things like how long it took for them to repair the system, what condition did it come back in, did they try and upsell you on a bunch of useless crap like AV software, was anything missing? If they got a look at the work area, what did it look like? Does it seem like there's a large number of systems to a rather small number of employees?

Take your time. A $1000 laptop is probably a big purchase for someone on a teacher's salary, so you want to make sure you have as much info as you can get before committing to one or the other.

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by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / March 5, 2011 9:19 AM PST
In reply to: Even if you buy

As already mentioned, you can get AppleCare anytime that the original warranty is in force.

You can also purchase it at Best Buy but you will find that they do not push it as they make more money off selling the Geek Squad package than they do off AppleCare.

In the case of a MacBook, I would definitely recommend AppleCare at some time before the original warranty runs out


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by calkayak / March 19, 2011 10:54 AM PDT
In reply to: AppleCare

You can get AppleCare with the educator discount through Apple for $183 for the 13" model. As Jimmy pointed out, you can get it any time druing the first year. I usually buy it and don't activate it until the end of the year, just in case the computer is dropped or stolen.

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Best Buy gives Educational Discounts on Macs
by nanhow / March 22, 2011 1:31 AM PDT
In reply to: Even if you buy

Best Buy does give educational discounts, the dame as at the Apple Store or online. While in the past, I have always purchased my Macs from Apple, this past winter I bought my new MacBook Pro from Best Buy. They even had an Apple employee there in the store, who just asked me to prove I was a teacher, exactly the same as the Apple store does (even though if they (both of them) are really busy at the time, they will just take your word for it). The reason I bought it at Best Buy was that we had recently purchased a TV there, and, if you sign up for reward points, you will get Cash certificates based on how much you spend. You don't get a whole lot, but even $10 or $20 off of CD's or whatever can come in handy. I then went online to purchase Applecare, which can be used anywhere in the country. (I actually did purchase a Best Buy warranty on a laptop in the past (my daughter wanted an HP for college quite a few years ago), and I found their service to be excellent when it needed some repairs, but I still would always buy Applecare for a Mac. There are a number of places online where you can get Applecare cheaper than from Apple (Amazon, LA Computers, B&H Photo), and, as long as you have a legitimate product (with a serial number) it doesn't matter where you purchased it - it is the same product that you register with Apple. And, when you go into an Apple store for classes or the Genius Bar, etc, they do not ask you where you got your Mac - they are there to service all Macs.

I hope this helps

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Does Best Buy repair in house or send out?
by mjfuller / December 2, 2011 11:23 AM PST
In reply to: Even if you buy

Several years ago I took an HP laptop into Best Buy where we bought it. I had a dead modem. They said they'd have to send it off to their repair facility and it would take six weeks! Six weeks for a modem I could install myself in 30 minutes or less! My daughter was a college student and obviously couldn't do without her computer for six weeks. I mailed it over night to HP directly. They fixed it and sent it back overnight delivery within 6 days. I only had to pay to send it out. They paid to send it back. Can a teacher give up his/her computer for six weeks? I'd ask Best Buy if they've changed their ways in recent years. Otherwise, I'd never pay them for such poor service.

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Send out.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 2, 2011 11:26 AM PST

The store capabilities vary from store to store. What I see them do is reload the machine too often. Will said school teacher have their work backed up?

Sorry I can't use their repair offers.

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From what I've heard
by Jimmy Greystone / December 2, 2011 9:16 PM PST

From what I've heard, and this is probably third hand info at best... Best Buy used to have it's own depot for fixing at least Apple stuff, probably other things as well, but as I understand it, Apple has decreed that everyone has to start moving to a store based system where basically you trade repair time for repair quality, because most store level techs have no business being within 10ft of a screwdriver, let alone working on someone's computer. At least in my experience, and that's not to say there aren't some people with real skill working at the store level, but they're often harder to come by. It also doesn't guarantee the Apple tech or techs at their depot are any better than the store level ones, but usually just out of sheer volume of experience (having all the Best Buy's across the country sending units in) they're going to be in a whole other league.

Most retail chains will offer you a loaner if you have one of their store contracts/warranties, but if you just take it in there as a walk-in type repair, then not so much.

I have serious doubts that Apple actually does many repairs in-house in their own stores. They're just too busy swapping out bad iPhone/Pads/Pods every time I've been in one, and I ask fairly simple questions for any ACMT and they give me a deer in headlights look. And of course Apple retail stores don't have to play by the same rules everyone else in Apple's repair network does, so things like Apple corporate picking up the cost of 2nd day airing a unit to a repair depot makes for a really unfair advantage when you figure just how much that would cost a retail chain like Best Buy, Fry's, and any others that do their own repairs. It'd probably be millions of dollars annually.

Anyway, all I can really speak to is the Apple end of things, because that's what I do and what I pay attention to. No other vendor seems to give a gerbil's rear about what some repair place does with their units. Apple is very particular, and a holy terror to deal with on the business side. Just think about your sort of typical snooty butler, hotel concierge, restaurant maitre d, and then drop even the sarcastic attempt at being polite.

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best buy > apple store
by ultrabarrel / July 27, 2011 11:22 AM PDT

i started working at best buy about 4 months ago and one thing id like to say is that our prices tend to be slightly lower than the apple store by usually 70 to 100 $$ and to top it off we do match anything the apple store does in terms of promotions >_<. and for the best buy card, its definatly a great way to go given you get 4% back on your purchase as well as 20 bucks back in reward zone points

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Don't get me started.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 27, 2011 11:26 AM PDT
In reply to: best buy > apple store

I've lost count how many times I went to buy an item at BB and they failed to be able to sell me the product.

There it was, locked up but they wanted to complete some process of getting the right person and even then the right person wanted me to take it to the front counter for the techs to mess up the machine for me. has the same reductions or

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I fmoney is the issue,
by macnerd10 / September 14, 2011 4:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Don't get me started.

I will side with Bob about Amazon. They are Apple authorized retailer, charge no tax, and you have free shipping. With my academic discount of 100 dollars (used to be 200 across the board) it still comes up cheaper on Amazon (of course, depending on the state tax; we have 10%). However, when it comes to service, Apple may be seriously considered.

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That's funny
by Jimmy Greystone / July 27, 2011 1:11 PM PDT
In reply to: best buy > apple store

That's funny, because Apple dictates the retail price to all retailers, same as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo do with their game consoles. Now, Best Buy could do the same sorts of things the warehouse club stores do, and bundle some additional stuff with any unit sold, but Apple is pretty strict about pricing. That's part of the deal when you're an authorized reseller with Apple. So if what you say is actually true, then Best Buy is doing something that would be a big no-no, and certainly get the attention of some people in Cupertino.

And I'll leave it up to the mods, obviously, but that whole post sure has a sort of spam-like texture to it. There's a fine line between extolling the virtues of buying in some particular store and shameless self-promotion, and I'd say the above post crossed that line and then some. It's like a cross between spam and astroturfing. If it were my call, it would be gone, as would any reply to it. And if the person wants to come back and post again, just leaving out the rather over the top self-promotion, even better.

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RE: That's funny
by dj_erik / September 16, 2011 11:08 AM PDT
In reply to: That's funny

Actually, I usually see Apple computer prices varying slightly on price. MacMall, Amazon, BestBuy, Apple Stores, etc all have different prices, however the prices aren't that different. These all are authorized Apple distributors. You can usually look to get the best price if you are looking to finance as each has their own bank that does that and can greatly leverage the the additional cost through time periods or APRs. Apple does seem to price fix the iPod, iPad lines though, and that may be what you are referring to. Usually the only deals that you can get with them are store promotions, like $50 gift cards with purchase, etc...

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macbook on amazon
by tacole79 / October 2, 2011 5:19 AM PDT
In reply to: That's funny

legally, they can't dictate pricing.

Amazon says right on their page for the Macbook:

<b>Retailers like Amazon have the legal right to set their own prices
independently, but some manufacturers place restrictions on how those
prices may be communicated. </b> Because our price on this item is lower
than the manufacturer's "minimum advertised price," the manufacturer
does not allow us to show you our price until you take further action,
such as placing the item in your shopping cart, or in some cases,
proceeding to the final checkout stage. The steps required depend on
the details of the manufacturer's minimum advertised price policy.
Taking these steps allows Amazon to show you our price consistent with
our goal of always offering you the lowest possible prices on the widest
selection of products.

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By the same token
by Jimmy Greystone / October 2, 2011 8:41 AM PDT
In reply to: macbook on amazon

By the same token, companies like Apple, Nintendo, Sony, etc, don't have to sell to a company like Amazon if they don't wish to. So if Amazon does something Apple doesn't like, they can just decide they're not going to sell their products to Amazon anymore.

There are plenty of ways around these things.

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your point?
by tacole79 / October 2, 2011 10:15 AM PDT
In reply to: By the same token

I'm not sure of your point. Clearly, Apple still does business with Amazon.

All I was saying that LEGALLY, Apple can not dictate anything. And if they were found telling a company what they could and could not charge, they would be the ones who were in fact breaking the law.

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I think the point is,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / October 2, 2011 10:21 AM PDT
In reply to: your point?

if company A dictates the price of a product
company B decides to change that price,
company A has the right to stop supplying company A with the product.

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by Diamondcards / November 3, 2011 2:00 AM PDT
In reply to: I think the point is,

I would analyze this more through financial analysis. Apple essentially sells to retailers or distributors like BestBuy or Amazon at a reduced price in very high volume. As opposed to the 1,000USD price at 700USD cost for an est of a 300USD profit margin, Apple sells to the distributors for, let's say...850USD. You would say that this is a disadvantageous position for Apple; but, keep in mind of the saved cost on logistics, inventory, local advertising, employees, and store facilities operations. That 150USD loss in profit margin gets quite a cushion after you factor these in. Even if the contracts are through another arrangement, the final figures should add up similarly. So... Apple could be losing a slight amount off their profit margin. Let's say 100USD after 50USD of saved costs to be fair although I'm sure the margin is less. Apple ends up selling 1000USD laptops for 100USD less than to home consumers. Yet, they are giving a mere 100USD discount to customers that are buying thousands - if not tens of thousands - at a time while promoting their other products. Let's also keep in mind that most products are much more than the 1,000USD figure I quoted. Essentially, you have a perfect sales method using 3 avenues. Apple's online store in this digital age, Apple stores only placed in high volume, upper-middle class locations, AND finally distributors that pose as their primary competition that were selling PC products but are including APPLE to consumers that chose to go to Best Buy for a PC instead of an Apple... yet.... ends up possibly walking out with an Apple. There you have it, folks. Near-full assimilation of the formerly PC dominated tech world into Apple's gigantic cloud, just as Steve had dreamed.

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LEGALLY they don't have to
by Jimmy Greystone / October 2, 2011 12:12 PM PDT
In reply to: your point?

LEGALLY, they don't have to, because LEGALLY they aren't required to sell their wares to Amazon. If Amazon sets the price too low for too long, Apple may decide it doesn't like them undercutting their retail channel, and that of all their other resellers, so will cut Amazon off.

Typically companies that want to set a specific price will include some clause in the contract relating to such. And while that may or may not be legally enforceable, Apple could just decide that they're going to fill everyone ELSE'S orders before Amazon's. So if the supply of iPads is short, for example, Apple may decide that it'll fill orders for everyone else first, and then if there's any left over, those will go to Amazon.

If I make some product, I'm under no obligation to allow Amazon, or anyone else, to resell that product. If I sell to Amazon, I may insist that they follow certain guidelines. I may not LEGALLY be able to force them to do it, but I can certainly take their actions into account when I'm considering whether or not I want to CONTINUE selling my product to them.

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Apple Store!!!
by tatertots27 / August 4, 2011 5:52 AM PDT

Both of the stores offer eduction discount and AppleCare, but Apple has better service and will help you set your computer up.

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by lucacoleman / September 9, 2011 1:26 AM PDT
In reply to: Apple Store!!!

There no huge difference between buying from best buy and apple store. But if you want assurance, you can also go for Apple store.

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No Geeks
by robertmulligan100 / September 17, 2011 6:08 AM PDT

Geek Squad is a joke ....they do NOT understand Mac ..they are PC trained Buy from Apple you will be happier in the long run !!!

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To be fair
by Jimmy Greystone / September 17, 2011 7:41 AM PDT
In reply to: No Geeks

To be fair, I've gotten plenty of deer in headlights style blank looks from "geniuses" at Apple stores.

Apple hires people more on personality than any kind of technical skill. While it does happen, the intersection of the two is very rare. Apple goes for the very pleasant, but technically dubious sort, while most other places go for the more skilled by maybe a bit socially inept. But of course it's retail, so usually they get paid crap and the people who have any real skill find a better job somewhere else before long. Then you're left with the people who either have a lack of skill, or some other severe flaw that keeps them from going somewhere else.

I've gotten units in to me that were diagnosed first at Best Buy and they claim it's a logic board when it's just a bad HDD. I've gotten units in that were diagnosed by someone at an Apple store where it's pretty much the same deal. They claim it's the logic board, and the actual problem is the HDD. You get morons working for Apple same as Best Buy, Fry's, and probably any other outfit you want to name. You'd hope the bad ones would be fired, but usually it's the opposite because of what I said above. The good ones find other jobs, so the bad ones keep their jobs so the store has bodies to man that particular part of the store. You just have to hope that you luck into one of the good ones before they go elsewhere.

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reply Mac @ Apple Store or Best Buy?
by 7rings / September 25, 2011 4:56 AM PDT

I bought my MacBook Pro at the Apple store 4 years ago. I never bought the Apple Care. And never needed it. They are such a huge help at the apple store if you need help. The Genius's are Genius's.. i don't know if they'd care for
you if you bought it a Best Buy. You may want to check. But really, my mac never has problems. I just needed help upgrading my operating system.

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They will
by Jimmy Greystone / September 25, 2011 5:08 AM PDT

They will so long as the unit is still under IW or APP. Otherwise they'll still help, but it's an OOW repair so it will be billed accordingly. They won't honor store warranties from Best Buy, Fry's, or any other reseller.

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Best Buy.
by VehicleVoltron / December 17, 2012 2:02 AM PST

I know this thread is very very old, but in case anyone ends up here like I did, I have some insight. Full disclosure: I am an employee of Best Buy. My official title is "Apple Computer/Tablet Sales Consultant." Here's my .02 on the whole Apple Store/Best Buy debate. I purchased both Macbooks I have from I am very happy with them, because I have a very demanding computer use lifestyle, and there are certain options I must have. If you are the same as me, then your only solution is If one of the pre-configured models on is right for you, then here's my advice:

Buy from Best Buy. Not because I am an employee, because I am a customer. Applecare is a great plan, and is an excellent value in terms of extended warranty and INCLUDED technical support. Best Buy's Geek Squad Protection and Tech Support are two separate services, and of course can be bought together, but for considerably more money. Also know that Applecare is available on a Mac you buy from Best Buy, if the 18 months same-as-cash is something you'd like. Jimmy Greystone was exactly right about the retroactive interest if you take longer than the 18 months, though.

Here's why I fully stand by the Geek Squad Protection I sell every day, however. Applecare is considerably cheaper, but it covers no kind of accidental damage, unless it's on an iPhone. All it is is an extended warranty, just like for a car. They will fix all the stuff that breaks, but if you wreck the car, you are still out of luck. The GSP is like an extended warranty and insurance in one. There are several added benefits to GSP also, such as no-lemon and no-wait. If your computer has to be fixed three times for any reason, boom, new computer. If your computer can be fixed, but parts are on backorder for more than 14 days, new computer. While the GSP IS a repair warranty, if your computer can't be repaired, you get a new one. Not a rapid replace refurb model, a new one off the shelf. If the computer you bought is no longer available, you will get a new computer of equal price/specs off the shelf. That helps with the obsolete computer issue. It's also worth noting that the accidental damage coverage is not limited to a certain number of claims, and there is no deductible when you make a claim.

As for the Tech Support, it is just what it sounds like it would be, 24/7 support, phone, online, in-store, etc. It also includes services like virus removal, OS installs, software installs, and discounts on all other GS services not covered, such as house calls. The bonus to GSTS is that it covers 3 computers or tablets. So if you are replacing a PC that you have at home, get a Mac, and then later buy an iPad, all 3 of those devices are covered under the GSTS.

I know my opinion sounds terribly biased due to my employment by the company, but i love Apple computers, and I'm happy for anyone who gets one, regardless of where they buy. I just think that Best Buy's services, while pricier, are packed with value.

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Support Services
by kcburgett / November 4, 2013 8:15 PM PST
In reply to: Best Buy.

I have just read the last entry of this question - I hope someone is still looking through these and can offer some advice. I am planning to buy the iMac but there is no Apple store in my area ( I am in Fort Smith, AR and the closest Apple store is in Tulsa). So I guess the Apple Care would not benefit me due to the distance I would have to travel. That leaves me with purchasing from Best Buy; but I am also a teacher and cannot afford a lot of extras. Therefore, what protection plan should I get from Best Buy - the GSP or the Tech Support?
Also, is GSP and Tech Support only for a computer from Best Buy, or could I purchase a computer from another source and then purchase one of the support services from Best Buy?

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You should have read the whole thread
by itsdigger / November 4, 2013 8:26 PM PST
In reply to: Support Services

to get an idea but this is an old thread almos 3 years. Why not start a new thread ?

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