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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Paul vs. Apple

I purchased a white MacBook back in June, and I like it quite a bit. Because I wasn't using it for several hours each day at first, I wasn't seeing the discoloration issue so many others had reported. But starting with our August trip to France, where the MacBook got a nice workout for three straight weeks, it became clear that my eyes weren't deceiving me: I was seeing the discoloration too. Ugh.

Now, a few months later, the discoloration is more obvious than ever. My wife asked about it this morning, so it must be pretty bad. Having seen the online discussions about this topic, and Apple's bare bones support note, I decided it was time to get it fixed. I don't really want to be without the MacBook for any amount of time, since I use the machine to manage my music, photo, and video collections, and my iPods. But obviously it needs to be fixed.

My call today to Apple is interesting to compare and contrast with my recent experiences with Dell. Unlike Dell, Apple appears to employ Americans for US-based support. This isn't a racist comment. I expect to speak to someone who can a) speak the language and b) do so without an international accent that is difficult for me, the customer, to understand. I don't think that's too much to ask when you've spent good money an expensive piece of technology.

I called AppleCare via the 800 number listed on Apple's Web site and waited for about 5 minutes before navigating through one of those awful voice-command menus and then speaking to a human. He asked me to wait "5 to 7" minutes, which I later decided was a standard phrase they employ at Apple Support, because I was eventually asked to wait for this exact time period three times. Each time, the wait was at least that long: The second wait was well over 10 minutes. At least the on-hold music was decent.

Anyway, after conferring with a support specialist, the first guy told me that they weren't going to cover the problem. He seemed surprised by this and asked me if I would like to speak with them directly. I did so. After waiting about 10 minutes (the second of the "5 to 7" minute waits), I described the problem to the support specialist. She thought it would be covered, and said that the first person had mistakenly said the discoloration was on the top of the lid, not on the palm rests. I told her I was surprised to discover Apple wouldn't cover the defect as well, since they have a support note on their Web site about it. Queue up the third "5 to 7" minute wait while she heads off to ... do something else.

And then she comes back and tells me it won't be covered. Despite the fact that it's a textbook example of MacBook discoloration, I'm told my machine is outside the range of the machines that are affected by this issue. Thus, it is not a defect and will not be covered.


Look, I'm not a dirty person. This isn't grime, or normal wear, or whatever. I don't even sit there and type away on the machine regularly like a lot of people. I tell her all this. Again.

She recommends that I bring it to a local Apple Store and let them look at it. I told her I had expected Apple to just fix an obvious and known defect in one of its products, that this had been a very eye-opening experience, and how ecstatic I was that I had chosen to pay for three years of support that would never be honored. None of this was delivered above anything other than my normal monotone.

Her reply? "Have a good day, sir."


So I guess I'll be bringing the machine to a local Apple Store. I'll have to call first to make an appointment, of course. And now I'm curious why Consumer Reports readers rated Apple so highly. Their machines are wonderful, but my support experience was pretty pedestrian.
[ Posted at 4:25 PM | Permalink ]


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