CMXtraneous: Is Apple Getting Too Big For Its Britches?

Right on the edge of useful

Is Apple Getting Too Big For Its Britches?

Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 11:57:47 AM by Stephanie


Here's the deal. I love Apple. I've used Apple products since I started using computers (about 14 years). I really don't want to quit (I have a new video iPod, complements of a dear friend of mine, coming this week). But lately, Apple is starting to look, and act like, a big company. That makes me sad. Yes, I want them to make money and stay in business. But good grief, can't we keep the cool things that make them individual as well? The things outside their great usability/advertising?

I've had a problem -- you've seen that if you read my blog. My gorgeous baby (17" 1.67GHz PowerBook) has narcolepsy. The trackpad sensor is screwed. It's whacked. It believes it's freezing and then burning up. Of course, my fingers, since they live there regularly, would know if that were true. It's not. As soon as the temperature (erroneously) hits 220-something farenheit, it goes into auto-sleep. Shut down. Narcolepsy. G'night.


Due to that, my sad saga begins. This all began in January. At that time, Apple didn't seem to know what was happening or hot to fix it. I work a ridiculous amount of hours and couldn't afford to send the computer in for 7-14 days and risk it coming back with, "We can't reproduce the problem." There's no WAY I can go back to my Quicksilver. It's nearly 5 years old and way too slow to really get anything done. My 14 year old would also be very, very upset if I kicked him off it. I decided I had to figure out what was wrong myself, share it with Apple and thus, get it fixed when I sent it in.

About a month ago, after much blogging and testing with other people, I finally had it figured out. Anyone with narcolepsy needs a topcase (without a doubt) and most likely a logic board as well. I know what it is; I've documented it; I'm ready to send it to Apple now. But the people at AppleCare made me nervous. It didn't seem they were really listening to, or understanding, what I was saying.

I finally got escalated to a PowerBook specialist (thanks Scott). I emailed my compiled info directly to him so he could attach it to my record and pass it on to the engineers.

The box to send it in for repair arrived. I tried to calculate how I would work without my computer (with 18 web projects happening concurrently) for at least 7-10 days. There never seemed a good time. I kept delaying (and getting more annoyed at my computer). Last week, we had opportunity to go to Chapel Hill. There's an Apple store in Durham.

I call the store and find they repair PowerBooks on site. If you have ProCare ($99 per year) you get the repairs done priority. I buy it.

I have a plan to drop the computer as we arrive into town. They can have the parts ready since I know what I need, and I'll be all set by the time we leave. Cool beans.

Roadblock One: you can't find out what parts are in stock before you're in the store (hello Apple -- what about those of us that don't live in a town where an Apple store will ever exist). I get an idea. I have a box Apple sent me for my warranty repair. If I call AppleCare and tell them I'll be getting it repaired in-store instead of mailing it in, they'll be sure the parts are sent to Durham for me. After all, I'm a good, long-standing client who's purchased numerous Apple products. I have a business to run. Apple wants me to be successful, use their computers, spread the good news, and keep on going. Right? Hmmmmmm... Seems not.

Roadblock Two: The gentleman at AppleCare really didn't seem too concerned that I would be going to the Raleigh-Durham store for repairs. He really had no desire to attempt to do anything outside the ordinary way they're done. Think different? Not here. He didn't escalate my case to someone that could help me. I have him pull my case to prove I know what I need. This might impress him. None of the info I so carefully compiled is appended to my record. I'm told, "There's nowhere to put customer comments. That was just sent to the engineers.")

Steve should know about this

Steve's a cool guy who cares. He would hate the fact that his computers have a defect that is causing his customers to lose productivity and money. I wrote him at all three addresses I could find for him. No, I didn't honestly expect him to read them. But perhaps someone would reply.

They didn't.

So I head to the Durham store. I'm at the mercy of whatever happens to be in stock that day.

I enter the store, fingers crossed, and wait for my pre-booked appointment at the Genius Bar. When they finally get to me, I explain the problem, show him the history on my track pad sensor, give him a print out of the information I'd sent to AppleCare. I explain in detail how I know I need the topcase and logic board. He tells me they still have to test and reproduce. In his defense, he does order the parts for me right then. He says they're usually in by the next day, or at worst, the day after (that would be Thursday, the day we were heading back to Wilmington). I leave my machine.

I get an email from Adobe Wednesday saying that an article I wrote for the Devnet center is going live on Thursday. Now I need access to the original one on my computer so I can compare the edits. I go into the Apple store and ask Justin (a great Apple worker) whether I can get access to my computer if it's not disassembled (it's easy to find -- it has "Talk Nerdy To Me", Creative Commons and Technorati stickers on it). He finds my parts aren't there yet and brings my computer out. I was standing in front of him finding what I needed when my computer kicked into narcolepsy mode. YES! As annoying as it is, I was just thrilled to have him stand there with his mouth open -- and report back to the engineers that he'd seen it with his own eyes. He recommended I call at 11am the next morning since the part shipment would be there by then.

Thursday, 11:00am

I call. My parts are not in. I don't want to leave the computer unless they'll be in the next day. The person on the phone says she'll check. But what she finds is, though there's record of them being ordered, there's not a record made by the Parts Dept as to WHEN they'll be shipped. "They may be in tomorrow. If not, they should be here by Saturday." Well now, that's reassuring. Apple won't ship to you from the store either. So since it's unlikely it will be repaired over the weekend and there's also a day of testing the repair when complete, I take it back home with me.

I might as well have shipped it off to Apple. The purchase of ProCare is worthless in my opinion. If I can't have the part waiting, what good does "priority service" do for me really?

If the part arrives, the saga will continue on Monday. I have a friend that lives in the area who will take my computer back on Monday after her visit here. Then, it appears I'll be driving 2.5 hours each way to pick it up on Wednesday or so. Great service Apple. Let's make it as difficult as possible to get a machine, that has problems I did not cause, fixed. I'm miffed.


Category tags: Dreamweaver, Mac, On the Personal Side