Help with Macbook Startup Problem:

OK so a friend of mine gave me his daugther's friend's Macbook Pro which apparently is having issues.  I don't know much about Macs but seeing as she was quoted $800 to fix the problem, I figured I'd at least take a look at it.
First off, the Macbook has the following specs, which I got from the serial number:

MacBook Pro 13 inch (Mid 2012)
Machine Model: MacBookPro9,2
Family name: A1278
Model Number: MD101
Production year: 2012
Production week: 52 (December)
Operating System: Mountain Lion

There are a few different issues here:
1) the laptop won't power on at all unless you plug in the AC adapter
2) as soon as you plug the AC adapter into the laptop, it powers on and has fans going full speed
3) the screen turns white, you see the Apple logo and a spinning symbol. From here, a loading bar appears. After about 5 minutes, the progress bar works its way to the end and then the machine powers off
4) I cannot eject the DVD at any point
5) I cannot get ANY other screens to display except for the one mentioned above.  No boot menu, no safe mode, etc
6) at one point, I took the hard drive out, connected it my computer and used a program to access the drive and backup any important files (so as far as I can tell, the hard drive is working)
7) I booted the system without the hard drive and when I plug in the AC adapter, the white screen shows a blinking folder with a question mark
8) when the system is powered on, I can hold the power button to shut the system down but I cannot get it to power back on unless I unplug the AC adapter and plug it back in

I don't have a problem replacing the hard drive and/or reinstalling the Operating System but I can't get any further than what is mentioned above.

Any help or insight would be appreciated.
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homerslmpsonAsked:
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strungCommented:
First try resetting the SMC:

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3964
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strungCommented:
Then try running the Hardware Test:

http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1509
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strungCommented:
If the Hardware test says the hardware is okay, you can try to repair the hard drive:

http://osxdaily.com/2012/02/08/repair-boot-disk-mac-os-x-disk-utilit/
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strungCommented:
BTW, you should be able to eject the DVD by booting while holding down the mouse button or by keeping a finger on the bottom left corner of the track pad.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
I'll have to try these out when I get home from work.
It looks like you're not "supposed" to remove the battery on this Macbook so
but seeing as the machine powers on automatically as soon as I plug in the AC adapter, how am I supposed to press shift+ctrl+option+power at the same time BEFORE I even plug the AC adapter in?  Or should I plug it in, hard power it down and then try the keyboard command mentioned above?
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strungCommented:
You could try that, or see if you can first shut it down by pressing and holding the power button for 5 seconds.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
OK.  It would be excellent if I can get this thing back up and running.
I don't know what the person did to the Macbook but it's frustrating that I can't get to the boot menu.
I wouldn't mind just reinstalling the OS from scratch at this point.
I'll let you know what happens.
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strungCommented:
By the way, Macs don't normally display a progress bar when booting. What you are seeing is likely the progress bar from an attempt by the Mac to repair the hard drive. (In effect running the Mac version of CHKDSK.)
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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
If the MacBook Pro was purchased less than 12 months ago (which would appear to be the case) then they're under the 12 month Apple warranty and should be entitled to have it repaired.

Based on your points
1) If the computer will not boot without AC power then it would indicate that the battery or related connection is damaged (as you're under warranty this should be repairable by Apple)
2 & 3) This is normal that fans will run briefly at full speed on bootup .. the boot sequence appears to start as normal and then terminate (there can be several reasons for this)
4) Are you sure there's a DVD in the drive?  To force eject the DVD .. plug in a USB mouse and hold down the left mouse button when powering on .. it should eject DVD.  
5) Have you booted with the Option/Alt key pressed down? This should give you boot options .. does that work?
6) Good to check that the HD is running to rule that out as a cause of the boot failure
7) That message means that no OS or boot system is found so that is normal as you'd removed the HD
8) Returning to item 1 - it sounds like the battery/power system is damaged

Do you have access to another Apple Mac with OSX 10.8?  You could try booting MacBookPro into Target Disk mode and connect it over firewire or USB cable to the other Mac to diagnose HD and Hardware.

Apart from the power issue, there may also be damage to the Operating System which is preventing the system from booting up (was there a power outage or failure during a system upgrade install??)

Otherwise (assuming it is less than 12 months old) I'd revert to Apple for Support & Repair.
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strungCommented:
Let us know the results of the things I suggested above before trying anything more drastic. I have a number of other suggestions and attempting to fix or back up a Mac using PC tools usually makes things worse.
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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
I'd second the last comment by strung.

DO NOT run Windows Diagnostic or Repair software on a Mac formatted HD.

If you have another Mac with same OSX 10.8 and you can plug HD using USB SATA adapter then you can do lots of things .. but not with Windows.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
I honestly don't think the laptop is less than 12 months old based on its condition but I sent a text to the owner to verify.
The Option/Alt being held down won't get the boot menu to display unfortunately.
I tried numerous combinations (holding the key down BEFORE powering it on, pressing the key after the chime sound plays, etc.).
There was a DVD in there and I didn't know what it was.  I was hoping it was the moutain lion OS CD but I couldn't get it to eject.  I didn't know if this was the reason the laptop wouldn't boot so I took the drive out and ripped the DVD out...it was Tales from the Crypt Season 3...sigh
Anyway, eventually I decided to put the Snow Leopard DVD in the machine to see if that would force it to boot from the CD instead of the hard drive.  It sounded like it was definitely trying to load the data from the DVD but it wouldn't work.  Now I can't get the Snow Leopard DVD out lol.  I will try using the methods mentioned.
I do not have any other Macs around so the Target Disk Mode method isn't viable.
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strungCommented:
As always Eoin has a number of great suggestions. I was about to suggest target disk mode too.

I agree that it sounds like the battery may be toast, but it is also possible that the SMC (which controls the battery and charging) is fouled up so that is why I suggested resetting the SMC.

The progress bar you described together with the flashing question mark also suggests hard drive corruption (perhaps caused by the recurring crashes) and it may be possible to repair that per my earlier post if there is no hardware problem.

The fact that someone wanted $800 to fix the problem suggests they thought a logic board needed replacing, which is why I suggested the hardware test.

Eoin is quite correct in pointing out that Apple should repair this under warranty if it is less than a year old.
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strungCommented:
You can check the warranty status by entering the serial number here:

https://selfsolve.apple.com/agreementWarrantyDynamic.do
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
Sigh.  Is this Macbook under warranty???
Am I sitting here spinning my wheels like a chump when I could have just brought it to an Apple Store to get repaired???
Warranty status
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strungCommented:
Yes. It is still under warranty for hardware repairs but not for the short term telephone help. So if you take it into to an Apple store (make a genius bar appointment) they should repair it under warranty if it is a hardware problem.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
2 more questions.
1) will they let ME bring the laptop in to be repaired even though it's not my laptop?
2) if the answer to 1 is yes - would I need to bring anything else besides the laptop itself?
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strungCommented:
I would think you only need the laptop, but I would telephone first. If you are taking it in to an Apple retail store, you need to make an appointment with their Genius Bar. They can answer your queries above when you call.
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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
If there's no Apple Store nearby - find out where the MacBook was purchased and go through that route (online Apple Store - apple.com, Retailer etc.).

I doubt they'll accept you at an Apple Store simply turning up with the laptop
Proof of purchase would be required  (original packaging or paperwork or email receipt) otherwise you could be anyone.  If the owner has registered the device on initial setup their details will be on file and if you can provide this info they may be satisfied. Phone first.
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strungCommented:
There was a suggestion on MacFixit that the Genius Bar was demanding an AppleID and password to make an appointment. The user should know what this is at it would have been used to purchase and update software, such as Mountai Lion.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
Nothing works.
I tried resetting the SMC and I tried ejecting the DVD (the DVD tried to eject but wouldn't).
The person who owns the laptop brought it to the Genius bar and that's where she was quoted $800. Apparently whatever the issue is, is NOT covered under the warranty (although I have no idea why).
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strungCommented:
You need to get the full story from the owner. Sounds like there has been physical damage to the MacBook (dropped maybe, or liquid spill?) which would not be covered by warranty.
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strungCommented:
Did you try the hardware test?
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
Yeah. Nothing.  I can't get ANYTHING to show up on the screen accept the apple logo.
I even put in another hard drive - one that Windows installed on it (not that it mattered).
I thought at one point it was going to boot off the DVD but it actually tried to boot Windows lol.  
I don't know what is wrong with this thing but it's driving me nuts.
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strungCommented:
You need to ask the owner exactly what Apple told him or her. My guess is that they said it needs a log board replacement because it was physically damaged
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
"The volume won't mount" is all the info I got out of her.
I just assumed worst case I'd reinstall the OS.
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strungCommented:
Volume won't mount usually means hard drive problems. Apple would not quote $800 for that. I don't think you are getting the whole story.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
Sigh.
Well it sounds like she is beat then because there I'm not a miracle worker.
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strungCommented:
If the problem is, as I suspect, the logic board, there is nothing you can do.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
Well I can stay away from Mac products ;)
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strungCommented:
Your only alternative might be for the two of you to go back to the genius bar so you can get the true story direct from them as to what is wrong and why the won't fix it under warranty. They must have a record of the last visit.
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strungCommented:
I don't think it is fair to blame the Mac. My guess is that the user has abused the computer by dropping it or spilling something on it.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
Well I'll be honest with ya; me taking a look at it was simply a favor for my friend's daughter's friend lol so I'm done busting my hump. I have bigger fish to fry.
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strungCommented:
Don't blame you. Especially since I suspect Friend's Daughter has not been forthright with you.
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homerslmpsonAuthor Commented:
I'm not blaming Mac - I'm merely cursing their proprietary design that is mission impossible to work on.  If this was a standard Windows laptop, I can just replace the motherboard and be done with it.  Because it's a Mac - everything is like $500
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