According to internal documents seen by MacRumors, Apple is exchanging older 2012 and 2013 MacBook Pros with brand-new models, thanks to a shortage of spare parts. Customers who bring in their older MacBook Pros for battery replacement — a $200 out-of-warranty repair, or free with AppleCare+ — are receiving brand-new laptops instead of a new battery.

The unusual move is thanks to a “severe constraint of top case assemblies with integrated batteries” for the mid-2012 or early 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro. In the case of that laptop, it appears that Apple prefers its local repair technicians to replace the entire top case assembly for a battery replacement, even though iFixit appears to show that the battery is replaceable with a couple of specialized screws.

According to MacRumors, Apple is offering customers who have a 2012 or 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro that needs a battery service the option of delaying the service, in return for having the fee waived, or a “functionally identical” new laptop. Since Apple doesn’t have stock of the five-year-old 15-inch Pro, that “functionally identical” laptop is a 2015, 2016 or even 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro. Given that the current 15-inch Pro starts at around $2,000, that’s a huge win for anyone who can take advantage of the policy while it lasts.

In order to qualify, customers need a 15-inch MacBook Pro from mid-2012 or early 2013, and the battery needs to be due for a service. MacBooks will automatically notify their users when a battery service is needed. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a foolproof exchange: it’s a hit-or-miss thing, depending on your local Apple Store, inventory availability, and the mood of your technician on the day.

Chris Mills has loved tinkering with technology ever since he worked out how to defeat the parental controls on his parents' internet. He's blogged his way through Apple events and SpaceX launches ever since, and still keeps a bizarre fondness for the Palm Pre.