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View Full Version : Apple Customer Service Drives Switching - Part II

Lita Kaufman
11-14-2008, 06:00 PM
<p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/at/auto/1226669822.usr18053.jpg" /></p><p><em>This is part two of a three-part series.&nbsp; Part one <a href="http://applethoughts.com/news/show/91304/apple-customer-service-drives-switching-part-i.html">can be found here</a>.</em></p><p>Firstly, I always stress that Apple isn't perfect - even today, Apple has some productions problems.&nbsp; But it's how Apple deals with those problems that differentiates it from the commodity manufacturers, such as Dell, Acer and Lenovo.&nbsp; I've also been lucky - in 22 years of Mac ownership, I've had only a handful of problems, and nothing even close to catastrophic, until I purchased a refurbished 17" MacBook Pro last June.<MORE /><br />My 15" PowerBook (purchased in February, 2005) was in perfectly good condition, except that it was very getting finicky with newer software. Furthermore, I had to give several heavily animated presentations this past July using Keynote, and I knew that the PowerBook didn't have enough horsepower to carry it off.&nbsp; I was about to commit to either a MacBook or a 15" MacBook Pro, when I checked the refurb list on the on-line Apple Store and I found my dream model: the 17" MBP with the glossy screen. It was the immediately prior generation, sporting a&nbsp; 2.3 GHz processor and a 160 GB hard drive, but it was about the same price as the new 15" MBP.&nbsp; I'd been assured by friends who had bought Apple Store refurbs that 95% of the time, the refurbs were actually new products that had been opened and returned, and legally couldn't be sold as new, rather than products returned for problems and then repaired. Since the refurb was covered under the same warranty as a new unit, buying the 17" MBP seemed to be a no-brainer decision.</p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/zt/auto/1225896582.usr105519.jpg" width="347" height="260" /></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>I got the MacBook Pro, and it was as good as I expected, although I had some minor trouble when playing with graphically intensive Spore Creature Creator.&nbsp; The bottom of the case, near the back got extremely hot very quickly.&nbsp; I had been cautioned that these units run very hot so I really wasn&rsquo;t overly concerned.&nbsp; There was also one time I left the game running and closed the lid. The MBP wouldn't wake from sleep, and I forced a reboot. After that, I was careful to quit that program before putting the MBP to sleep, and I never experienced the problem again. All in all, I was delighted with the laptop, and it performed as expected during my conference and presentations.<br /><br />Unfortunately, things turned sour as soon as I got home. Literally. After driving 12 hours straight through from Columbus to New York, I unpacked the car and dragged just the essentials back upstairs, which meant just my laptop. I wanted to check my office email, but much to my dismay and complete bafflement, after starting up, the MBP just shut it self down. I rebooted, and it happened again. I rebooted, and it wouldn't event start up.<br /><br />I called AppleCare the next day, and they had me run through the standard troubleshooting tasks: resetting the PMU (remove battery and power cord, and hold the power button down for 30 seconds) and resetting the PRAM (hold down the Command, Option and P, R, and M keys and then press and hold the power button the computer until it chimes twice). I was able to get the MBP running long enough to pull off all of the presentation and associated audio files, and it shut itself down about 10 seconds later. The next day (Friday), after work, I went to the Apple Store to drop it off for repairs. I was a little startled to find that there were no appointments for Mac issues until the following Tuesday. I was; however, able to do a Quickdrop (dropping off the Mac without having a Genius try to fix the problem), which was just fine with me, since it was unlikely there was anything a Genius could do to fix the problem. The guy who did the intake on the Quickdrop advised that the earliest anyone would be looking at the MBP would be Monday.<br /><br />Sunday morning (a day earlier than expected), I was a little surprised to get a call from the Apple Store, letting me know that they were shipping the MBP off to the depot in Houston for repairs. I got the standard warning that if they found physical damage or water damage inside the case, it would cost me $1800 (I must have heard wrong), and that it could take up to 10 business days to complete the repair. I wasn't terribly discommoded by the prospect since I still had the 15" PowerBook. I just wanted the MBP fixed.<br /><PAGE /><br />A week later, I got a call that the MBP was fixed and available for pickup. As I had suspected, it was the logic board that needed replacing (not an uncommon problem I found when searching the Apple Discussion forums and Google). That was August 11th. On Wednesday, August 19th, everything went pear shaped again. I was playing a new game with pretty intensive graphics (like Spore Creature Creator), and the back of the MBP got super hot, really fast. I got out my new infrared surface thermometer (bought to check out the surface temps of the computer equipment in my home office), and much to my dismay, the back of the MBP was registering at 127 degrees Fahrenheit. That's pretty hot - the AppleTV (a notoriously warm piece of gear) - was only 100 degrees F. I quit the game and shut the lid, putting the MBP to sleep. 20 minutes later, I wanted to check my mail, but the machine wouldn't wake from sleep - the latch light just kept glowing full strength. I forced a shut down and restarted.&nbsp; I got the full start-up chime and I could feel the vibration of the hard drive spinning up, but the screen stayed dark and the latch light stayed on.<br /><br />Oh boy, not good.</p><p>I ran through the same troubleshooting techniques that I did with the original problems, but to no avail. Finally, after the fifth PMU reset, the screen came on during start up. I was pretty conservative in using the MBP (just checking email and surfing with Firefox), but I was really curious about what was causing the failure. I ran Photoshop, and once again, the back of the machine got very hot very quickly. I quit, but left the MBP opened for 20 minutes, and it cooled down to 92 degrees. I shut the lid and immediately reopened it, and it didn't wake from sleep. This time, no amount of PMU and PRAM resets would bring it back up. The MBP was, as far as I was concerned, dead, and I had no interest in doing any further troubleshooting or hooking it up to an external monitor to see if it was the display or the logic board. By this time, it was too late to call Apple, so I packed it up and took it to work the next morning (Thursday).</p><p><em>Lita is a New York based attorney and a proud Mac user for over 23 years, which means she fits into the clich&eacute; of an Apple product owner all too easily. The first Mac she owned was the iconic 512ke, her dearest companion through law school. It was eventually replaced by a Mac SE in 1989. Her fascination with both Macs and storage is still a running joke among my friends and colleagues. She has the firm belief that an unmounted hard drive is a crime against nature.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p>