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Why You Should NOT Just Walk into the Apple Store to Buy Your Mac

Steve Jobs has helped Apple earn record profits.

Do you really want to pay for another black turtleneck for Steve? Then don't pay full price for your Mac!

There’s nothing special about a Mac purchased from the Apple Store. Steve Jobs hasn’t sprinkled magic iDust on it, and the Geniuses haven’t loaded it up with bonus software. It's exactly the same computer as one purchased at any other authorized source*. The difference is the price. On any given Mac laptop or desktop computer, you’ll always find the highest price at the Apple Store. With very few exceptions, the price for a Mac at the Apple Store will remain consistent from the day it is released to the day it is discontinued.

Apple’s done a great job catering to Mac fans with stores that are monuments to aesthetically pleasing design and staff that are as Apple-focused as the shoppers. By all means, go, check out the newest models, and take care of your repairs. But you should never buy a computer in the Apple Store, no matter how cool the hipster Genius makes you feel.  So where is the best place to buy a Mac? You’ll always find a better deal by getting online and checking out the alternatives in the form of Apple Authorized Resellers and Apple's own special pricing departments.

Apple Store New York City

Apple's flagship stores, like the one on 5th Avenue in NYC, are designed to impress tourists, not offer the best deals.

Apple Authorized Resellers

Apple Authorized Resellers frequently have the best deals on Mac computers and laptops.  The big names in the game include: MacMall, Mac Connection, B&H, Buy.com, Best Buy, J&R, and Abt Electronics.  There are a number of advantages to shopping at these stores. First off, they provide discounts off the retail price.  For instance, MacMall has the current lowest price on a new 11” MacBook Air.  At $949.95, it is 5% off the retail price, plus a Brad's Deals exclusive takes the price down to $929.95.  The next big advantage is free software and rebate offers. B&H is currently offering Parallels 6 Desktop for Mac for free with your Mac purchase, and MacMall has a whole slew of rebate offers for free or discounted printers and free or discounted software.  Finally, you can save on sales tax from many of these resellers, depending on your location. And most of the time, shipping is free (or the price is discounted enough to make up for it).

A quick note: if the website you are looking at has a shoddy design and the prices are too low to be believed, it probably isn’t an Apple Authorized site and may not be a trustworthy business. Any site you see on Brad's Deals is safe.

Apple Education Store

Students, teachers, and education staff get 8% off Macs by purchasing through the Apple Education Store. With these price reductions, and the $100 off printer rebate, buying through Apple can be a good deal, even though you will pay sales tax.  Ground shipping is always free with a Mac purchase (from any of the Apple Stores). The best time for a student to purchase is in the summer months, when Apple usually runs a back-to-school promotion. This year’s offer is for a $100 Apple Gift Card that can be redeemed in the App Store, the iTunes Store, or the iBookStore.

Apple Refurbs

The Apple-Certified Refurbished Mac Department is the other big way to buy from Apple and save. Getting a great deal on a refurb can have a lot to do with timing. Apple refurbs are current or previous generation models that have been tested, refurbished, and re-certified.  They carry the same one-year, extendable warranty as regular Macs.  These purchases also qualify for the $100 off printer rebate, and students can purchase refurbs through the education store to get the gift card.

Apple’s Black Friday

This is the exception to the rule. The one time of year you can find variations in pricing at the Apple Store is on Black Friday.  Of course, you can expect discounts at other retailers during this time, so you’ll want to compare the different deals on offer.  Last year’s Black Friday sale only took $101 off Macs, though there were some other good deals. Even on Black Friday, you have to resist the siren's call coming from the Apple Store and search out the best deal online (or just come to us).

* David in the comments section pointed out that if you want to participate in Apple's paid One-to-One training program, you must purchase your Mac from the Apple Store, or the Apple Store online (including Education and Refurbs). You cannot take part in the program if you purchase from an Authorized Reseller.

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About the Author: Casey Runyan

Casey is part of the deal-finding team at BradsDeals. A bargain hunter to the core, she's sometimes haunted by nightmares about deals that expire before she can write them. She's also pretty sure she got her job by telling Brad about the time she got a free golf club.

19 Responses to “Why You Should NOT Just Walk into the Apple Store to Buy Your Mac”

  1. Sam says:

    What about iPads and iPhones? Are there discounts for these at the authorized sellers? Thanks

    • Casey from Brad's Deals says:

      iPads and iPhones are a different story. I don’t think I have ever seen a current model iPad for anything less than retail price, but you can pick up 1st generation iPads at some discount from some resellers. The warranty information varies on these, so I would check carefully before purchasing. The discount on an iPhone usually comes from signing a 2-year service agreement with AT&T or Verison. You can purchase through the phone company, Apple, Walmart, Best Buy, or Radio Shack. They also have discounted older model or refurbished iPhones, but again, the warranty details vary.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Kitty says:

    If I buy at an authorized reseller will I still be able to go into the Apple store for help or to have the Mac checked if there is a problem? Thanks

    • Casey from Brad's Deals says:

      Hi Kitty, you absolutely can go into the Apple store for help with your computer when you buy from an authorized reseller. The warranty is exactly the same whether it is from Apple or a reseller.

      That means you automatically get a 1-year warranty. You can upgrade this warranty any time within the first year to the AppleCare warranty, which gives you 3 years (starting with your purchase date). If you are off warranty, you can still go to the Apple Store, but you will be charged for the repairs.

      Hope this helps!

  3. Natasha says:

    I agree, it’s always cheaper to buy apple products from an authorized reseller. I recently bought a 32g iPod touch and it was much, much cheaper than Apple store and their website :)

  4. David says:

    If you are interested in the One-to-One Apple training program then you must buy your computer (laptop or desktop) from Apple (either the store or online). The One-to-One is a $99 once a week custom class at your local Apple store. You choose the subject of the class and you choose your schedule each week. If you purchase through an authorized reseller you are not eligible to participate in this class.
    If you are new to Apple or new to computers the class is pretty good. You can learn a lot about day to day short cuts. You can go into detail on almost any MAC application.
    I tend to buy from Apple direct using the education store because of this (my kids are in school so we qualify).

    • Casey from Brad's Deals says:

      Hi David, thanks so much for passing this on. I was not familiar with this restriction on the One-to-One program. I’m updating the post to include this information.

  5. Kitty says:

    Thanks for that information. I’m looking to buy but I was afraid if I purchased at an authorized reseller, there would be a different warranty or I wouldn’t be able to go into the Apple Store here w/minor problems. There’s definitely a price difference at the resellers and it would make a difference.

  6. TONYC says:

    BRAD & CO. please…..I have been a Mac user for almost 3 decades now!I just purchased an iMac from MacMall,not a very good experience overall & I have used them before, many years ago.This time around,I thought things would be different but after they were paid, was the time all the problems started.You need to know this cause it’s an important part of this story.When they make this iMac, that date is on it no matter what day they sell it to you.So this computer was made in 8/2010,then the selling date was July 21,2011.So everything,which includes that extra AppleCare insurance, is all based on that purchase date.I spoke to Apple today& they didn’t think it made a huge difference but for me, it does ,cause that cuts a number of days at the end of that insurance,when you really need it.Then ALL the rebates were denied by MacMall,went through numerous emails,phone calls.I am getting them, they honored them but all this extra work for an extra couple dollars, go to an Apple Store(if the sale is there or online)Dealing with Apple, they NOW call you and keep on calling till that problem is resolved.They do have the best customer service now & THAT is a huge part of buying any computer.

    Cheers..
    Tony(NYC)

    • Casey from Brad's Deals says:

      Hi Tony, I’m a little confused by your story, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that the warranty is based on the date of purchase, not on the build date. If you purchase Apple Care, it extends the warranty to three years beyond the purchase date. That is the same no matter where you buy your Mac–there is no difference between MacMall and the Apple Store. I’m sorry to hear you had problems with your rebates. I have done MacMall rebates for a number of my own computers, and I’ve never had any problems.

      All of the customer service goes through Apple after you complete the purchase, so I always go for the best deal I can find…which is never going to be in a physical Apple Store.

  7. Jay says:

    I bought 4 iMac for my office on 8/2011 from BHVideo. Last week one went bad from hard drive crash and I had to bring it into an apple store for repair. I was told the repair is covered under warranty and it’s good up til. 3/2012 . I couldn’t believe it ! Apple said BHVideo purchased the unit in March 2011 so the warranty is good until 3/2012. I don’t think it’s fair for BHVideo to not disclose of such info. I plan to contact AppleCare and BHVIDEO next week to sort this out. Regardless of the outcome, I think there’s definitely an issue with online purchase and warranty. I’ve purchased many electronic items online in the past without any issues but this experience will certain cause a pause in future purchase, especially apple products. I don’t mind paying more at the apple store but disclosure is a must from apple as well as their retailer. Consumers, please be careful.

  8. JIM says:

    Wow I didn’t know that about BHVideo and quite honestly that is a bunch of baloney! I will never patronize a store like BHVideo after hearing about this issue. Thanks for enlightening us!

  9. Nick says:

    What about the 160gb Ipod classic (7th generation)? I’ve seen the prices online which range from 229 to 249 bucks. I have a friend going over to the US and get it for me but now I’m not sure about the store retail price in Atlanta. cheers

  10. Tom Smitters says:

    The info about B&H is an absolute lie. Any Apple item purchased from B&H carries the same warranty as if purchased directly from Apple. I know this from experience.

    On a side note, Jay’s posting is really confusing because he says that the repair is covered but then he is confused.

  11. Filipe says:

    Unfortunately, I bought a MacBook Pro with a OnetoOne program. After I had unboxed my computer and used, I found out that I wouldn’t need OneToOne service. The situation is that I cannot return this item without returning the whole package: MacBook Pro, Mouse and Keyboard.

  12. Bob Taylor says:

    This is such nonsense – it’s virtually impossible to get Apple stuff discounted – the convenience of the Apple store and getting it now is definitely the way to go – anything else is more risky and no cheaper.

  13. Jossy Popoola says:

    Is Amazon a good place to buy from?

  14. Apple Andy says:

    There are many Apple Employee Purchase Plan discounts (EPP) available at the Apple Store and the Apple Store online’s EPP site (accessible on your particular company’s intranet). When shopping at the Apple Store ask if your company is on the Apple EPP list. I’ve used this many times when I worked at Starbucks. Be sure you bring proof I.D. badge, business card, etc. On Macs you can get $60. to $200. off. 4% to 8% off on accessories. Check it out!

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