Consumers Speak: Apple iBook Troubles

Reader Keith B. writes:

I ordered an iBook G4 on January 27th, 2005 – since then I’ve shipped it back four times now for various ‘fixes.’ I’m willing to admit that laptops have a higher fail-rate then desktops, which is why I’m willing to look past the first two times I had to go to an Apple store to have it sent out – once for the crashed hard drive and logic board in february, and three days after I got it back to get the logic board replaced again. I think, at least, everytime I got it back it seems they just kept replacing everything.

The irony is, I used their “Hardware Test” CD to test it, and that made it crash. The CD was in it when I dropped it off at Apple in February. Here we are a year later and the replacement CD they said they ordered for me has not arrived (as of December 19th, the same guy I spoke to – Kevin – who ordered me a replacement back in February said ‘they take a long time to get sent.’ Seeing how I’m almost at the year mark, I’d definitely say he’s right).

After the second time I got it back, I was without my bluetooth module I had originally had installed (I only noticed thanks to my craptacular Cingular wireless phone (on it’s fourth incarnation from being replaced) that had bluetooth and could sync to the iBook. It’s internal and I’m not that familiar with tearing apart laptops as I am desktops, so back to the Apple store, whose excuse is that it’s the ‘idiots they use down in Texas to fix the laptops.’ Naturally, once again, it got sent to have the bluetooth reinstalled.

It’d be nice to say all was well, but after I get my laptop back again, I find out I no longer have the super-drive installed. No DVD burning for me, but at least I can watch them. I figured after the ineptitude of the Apple store I’d give their phone customer support a try. They were quick to point out that I’m not eligible for phone support, and after a little arguing they finally agreed to send me a box to get it sent in to get the super drive put back in, with the usual 5-7 business days it would take to get the box. Three weeks passed and I called again, and they had no record of sending me a box, so I go through it again, and I’m told the same thing, and I get an email stating I was being shipped a box. Great! Three more weeks, still no box. I went through this a third time before I went back to the Apple store, asking for my hardware CD (and told – they take a while to be sent, and they put in another order for one for me, how nice, seeing how they never gave me the first one) and dropping of my iBook to be sent out for repairs. Seeing how it was before Christmas, I expected to not see my iBook for a week or more – to my surpride it was back to me Thursday – four days from dropping it off.

This time, I got instructions from a more helpful “Apple Genius” (what an oxymoron) on how to contact Customer Relations.
I got to Customer Relations and spoke to Juan, who noticed an iPod shuffle I owned and offered me a Nano for my troubles. Then $100 off an iPod video. Followed by $50 off the Apple store.

If they really wanted to keep me as a customer? They should’ve offered me an extension on the over-priced Applecare plan. It’s the only reason I kept the iBook as long as I did, seeing how it was in for repairs for about a month in time all together.

I loved it at first, but all the hassle and bullshit from them lead me to purchase a PC again. At least I can fix my own problems with it.

We’re guilty Apple apologists, we admit, but we think a free Nano sounds like a pretty nice gesture.


Edit Your Comment

  1. dukerayburn says:

    Not a very good story, I’ll admit, but they did do their best to give him some compensation. But if that’s your only computer, all that repair time..I can only imagine how much that would suck.

  2. Velociraptor says:

    The folks at the Apple store have a lot of leeway–I’d have demanded a new model iBook. I have a friend with the iBook G3 power board issue. He had his fixed 3 times in 12 month under the extended warranty issued by Apple. The last time he had the same problem, he went to the store and explained the situation. The guy went into the back and brought him out a new 12″ G4 iBook and sent him home.

    Go to a different store? Make sure you talk to a different genius? Go in during the Christmas rush and do your best righteous indignation act?

    It’s too bad, but often times you have to play the same game you do with the cell phone companies when dealing with Apple support–keep calling back until you get the answer you want. Write down names, times of calls, case numbers, and after 3 or 4 calls, ask for a supervisor. 1st line folks have no leeway.


  3. L'Emmerdeur says:

    A month without a computer? I’d be burning effigies of Stave Jobs in Union Square over that.

    My problem with these types of long-running support dramas is that they don’t seem to have a history of the computer in question – and they are in the business of SELLING COMPUTERS. Obviously, they sell them, but they haven’t mastered the art of actually USING them for say, I don’t know, customer service, maybe?

    If a CSR or “Genius” looks up your account and sees that you have had numerous recurring problems with the same computer, shouldn’t they deduce that this is a lemon, and escalate it to make you happy with a complete replacement? I imagine true lemons, that have to be sent in for repairs over and over, are rare, and it might be more cost-effective for them (and better for their reputation) to replace it after a certain number of failures over such a short period of time.

    And having no record of an order for a replacement CD? WTF?

    This is why I harass customer service over and over, just to confirm the results of a conversation, and then to confirm the confirmation.

  4. gunnk says:

    Poster said:

    I loved it at first, but all the hassle and bullshit from them lead me to purchase a PC again. At least I can fix my own problems with it.

    Does this mean he went back to a PC DESKTOP so that it would be easier to maintain or a PC laptop?

    I have needed to repair my PowerBook (3 years old) twice. The first repair was to replace the hard drive and the second was to replace the power input board (thankfully Apple attaches the AC Adapter to an $8 mini-board rather than the main logic board!). Both repairs were quick and easy: the hard drive I purchased at Best Buy (forgive me, Father, for I have sinned — but I was in a hurry!) and the power board was from The Mac Support Store. The worst part of the experience was the FedEx shipping (but that’s a different rant).

    In any case, I found the PowerBook to be quite easy to repair at home, and definitely no harder than any PC laptop I’ve fixed. I did have to buy a torx driver from Lowes Home Improvement to open it up, but that was only a few bucks.