Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jumping Through a Series of Fiery Hoops

Okay, here's what happened.


I lugged my (surprisingly heavy) MacPro into the Genius Bar. The Genius (in name only) looked through the error logs on my computer. He pointed out to me several lines that referred to the processor, and said, "Wow, see? It looks like your processors are the problem." He continued to scroll through lines and lines of errors.

Minutes later he showed this to another (much more knowledgable genius) who said, "Those aren't errors. Those just show that the processors are enabled."

Genius #1 said, "oh." And I started to see what I was in for.

They tested, poked and prodded my ailing machine until Genius #1 said, "Well, here's the thing. It looks like there are problems with the hardware", (absolute duh), "but we can't really figure out what those are."

I asked, "Can you just replace the whole machine then?" To which he replied, "No. Your machine is custom," (just because I added an AirPort, which is a very common part that comes in all their laptops, just not usually in the desktops), "so you'll have to take it home and mail it to AppleCare."

So I dragged the stupid heavy thing back out to the parking garage and called AppleCare from the car. After about 15 minutes on hold, I spoke with a kind man who thought it was so sad that I got such a troubled Mac. However, he couldn't help me. He had to transfer me to his supervisor. After another 35 minutes on hold, Mr. Supervisor Adam picked up.

He was not as nice. In fact, he was downright passive-aggressive, and actually seemed angry I was even inferring there was a problem with a Mac computer. Instead of trying to help me diagnose or fix the computer, he was extremely defensive throughout, and kept trying to convince me it was a "software error." I said, "so you're saying that every single program I run on this computer, all of which are made by Apple, are just randomly having errors? You're not willing to consider that it might be caused by an underlying hardware issue?" He gave me a diagnostic test to perform, and told me to email him the results in the morning. He was tired and was going home. So I did that.


He woke me with a call me at 8am. The results? Guess what -- it was a hardware issue. After reviewing my email, he declared the machine an "out-of-the-box failure." I love this term. The car was doomed before it ever left the garage. All of a sudden, Adam was very apologetic. He knew I was leaving town for San Francisco on Friday. So he said they were going to email me shipping labels, and he guaranteed I'd get them in a few hours so I cold send that sick puppy out.

Well, after waiting all day, those shipping labels never arrived. Around 3pm, I decided to raise hell. I called Apple and spoke to an employee, who said that the labels need 24 hours to process. I said that Adam promised them to me today, and that I was headed out of town. So I had her transfer me to her manager, who told me the same and passed me off to another department. I spoke to an employee there, then his manager. This went on. Seven transfers and an hour and a half later, I was told flatly and definitively, "you will not get your shipping labels today. Adam must not be informed as to our policies here. It is an automated system and it takes 24 hours to process these labels."

So I went off, saying things about how I would never buy an Apple product again, how this is a terrible way to run a business, etc. It wasn't pretty and it didn't really get anything done. Or did it?

The phone call ended. I wanted to throw my new Treo at the wall and see it smash into pretty pieces (Don't kill the messenger!).

Minutes later, I received an email with shipping labels.

I set up a home pickup with FedEx for the next morning (because I wasted the afternoon on that marathon phone call). They had a box to check for time of pickup, so I specified that they had to get here by 10:30am at the latest. We were leaving for San Francisco at 11:30, and I figured this was enough time in case they were late.


We were packing gear like madfolks. Once everything was ready, I checked my watch. FedEx never showed. 10:30 at the latest, and it was almost noon. Nothing.

I called my sweet parents, who live a few streets over, and asked them to take the computer to a drop off location, since we had to get out of town now if we were going to be on time for the Jonathan Coulton show. Lovely people that they are, they agreed.

We hit the road. Around 1:30pm, when we were in the middle of the desert on the 5 freeway, I received a phone call. It was the FedEx guy asking, "where are you? I'm here to pick up a package."

Are there competent employees? Or is that an oxymoron?

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  1. Wow.. that's quite the adventure. Kinda makes me glad I have a Dell right now.

    Hopefully your new one will be completely awesome and fully functional! Good luck on your show in SanFran!


  2. No one likes to speak with people on the phone, which makes it a whole lot worse. When my sidekick wasn't working, I went through the same process. Not pretty, I tell you. First, was a girl named Rachel- joy; "oh my gosh! we totally have the same name!" After speaking to what seemed like a million other people, we came upon a person whose name started with a D. It was such a funny story, you'd think I'd remember his name. Once my mom handed the phone to me, I knew there would be trouble. The man on the phone told me to do what everyone else had asked me to do- it never worked. I must have sighed pretty loudly when he told me to do it, because he said, "You sound like you don't think I'll fix your phone." And, surprise, he didn't fix it. Last but not least by any means, was John. After every single thing I said came, "I understand," even when it made no sense whatsoever. I ended up sending my phone back, getting a new one, it still wasn't working, but once I pulled my guilt trip on them, they filed a "trouble ticket" and fixed it within 24 hours.
    Bottom line, the help centers for these businesses, are really no help at all. Good luck with your Mac. =)

  3. wow that sounds like it totally sucked. I hope everything works out all right and you get your Apple Computer working. and i will be watching out for you on Jay Leno later on this week.

  4. You should sue Apple for misrepresentation through the use of the term "Genius" to describe their employees. THAT is why I don't have an apple anymore. I like the way Macs look, but when something goes wrong with my Dell, usually I can figure it out, or I can find someone I know who can. When Apples get jacked up there's very little hope, in my experience. It's all marketing and aesthetics. I hope it calms down when you get a replacement.

  5. Sorry bud. I've had my MacBook Pro for 3 years almost with no issues. Hopefully you'll get it solved soon.

    Got a new camera =)

  6. That sucks

    I've been having that kind of stuff going on with my cell phone

  7. wow that sucks! i really hope your new computer works!
    p.s. you should check out the miley and mandy show! haha miley and mandy set up a youtube account today and its really hilarious
    and that video crashed youtube for like 2 hours because so many people were trying to watch it haha

  8. I bought a Gateway laptop from Best Buy 2 years ago. We got their Geek Squad warranty and less than a year after i got it the hard drive failed and I lost all of my class notes during finals week. They were able to recover the data, but then they lost the cd it was on. They had my laptop for 3 months and sent it back still not working properly with refurbished parts and a cover that didn't even match. We went through numerous phone calls like you did, which never solved anything. I just recently bought a new macbook and I'm praying I don't have any problems like you did this time around. I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone with your computer problems and having to deal with incompetent employees.