Mac Enthusiasts Becoming Less Enthusiastic

Photo by Nathan Makan.

Reader Tom sends us an extremely verbose and highly detailed account of his various difficulties with Apple computers. We shudder at the thought of posting this, fearing that Mac Enthusiasts will descend upon Consumerist headquarters with machetes and white firewire cables with little apples on them that they will use to garrote us as we sit typing away. Alas, dissent will not be silenced, and it seems as if Tom has had a hell of a time. Potentially machete-wielding Mac Enthusiasts themselves, Tom and his girlfriend have spent

4,800 in the 4 years since their conversation from PC… on machines that constantly break. Bad luck, or the darker side of Apple? Read Tom’s lament inside.

I came across the site via the iPod story. As a card carrying mac- zealot I’m always in for some Apple gossip andnews. But all my love for Apple design and Apple’s wonderful programs aren’t enough these days to keep ma rage under control.Almost 4 years ago I switched from PC to Mac. It was a joyous day, that kinda compared to the firsttime you madelove to a beautiful lady (without the awkwardness of actually not knowing wat to do). I love my first iBookG3! Icarried it around in a special bag, made sure it was kept clean and all the things. Imagine my surprise when one night my screen goes black. Panic set in! Luckily we have an Apple reseller and authorised repair servicenearby. I bring in the unit and it turns out to be a broken motherboard. It’s replaced under warranty and a few months later I find that I’m not alone ( after I think 3 to 4 weeks the unit comes back during mid terms and just refuses to go to sleep. I bring it in between cramming for Anatomy and Physics and after convincing the sales rep that it’s NOT software related he agrees to take it back in. After 2 weeks I was proven right, the sleep sensor or something was damaged during the repair. They wanna foot me the bill but after some haggling they agree that it’s not my cost to bare.

Now some would think this was the end of it. New MoBo all is fine in Apple town. In it’s medium long life (3 years) it will have 2 other MoBo replacements and a hard drive crash.

About 1,5 – 2 years after getting the iBook G3 I sold it to a friend and got me a shiny new iBook G4. Because it’s new and an Apple it shouldn’t give me any hardware problems, cos the first one was a fluke! it had to be.

Wrong… 4 months in it’s use I get an urgent letter saying I quickly need to replace my battery because it might overhead (this is still pre-Sony times people). I’m thinking FREE battery, so I don’t complain. 1 month after it’s birthday the HD crashes. Now I know laptop HD’s are sensitive and crash prone, but at home we have had
nothing BUT laptops for almost the past 10 years (3 white labels and 3 Sony Vaio’s) and NONE of those laptops EVER had a HD crash and they ware abused instead of the sweet friendly used Apple. Actually all but one still work to this day. One months before finals I run for a repair, costs me

240 and the loss of all my notes (learn to back up folks!)

No when I say I’m a mac zealot I really mean it. During my G3 problems I convinced a roommate to get a freshly released G4. He finds the G4 to be allergic to the inner linings of the slot-drive that sticks out a little bit more every time he ejects a CD. After the replacements, he finds out the “new” drive has a taste for expensive DVD movies and scratches them up really nicely. Brings it in again, gets it back, same problem. Only after 3 destroyed DVD’s and promising he’ll pay for the next repair do they agree to take it back in. Another convinced friend receives his powerbook 12″ with broken display and dead within 12 months mother board. Still my love can’t be stopped and I convince my girl friend to squander all her savings on a Powerbook G4 15″. As I type this the powerbook is
celebrating it’s first birthday in the Apple repair shop after being away from home for 5 weeks and counting for it’s SECOND motherboard replacement due to a faulty power connector. This means that for every week of use, my girlfriends laptop has spent 1 days in repair.

Being well, PO’d and because my girlfriend is bigger then me. I take up the phone to Apple Belgium, who connect me to Apple support in The Netherlands who say they can’t do anything but take note of my complaint. I ask what I can do to actually voice my complaint and get some form of satisfaction. I’m suggested to write via registered mail
to Apple’s International headquarters in Cork Ireland. I collect my best English (I’m a native Dutch/Flemish speaker) and start writing. After 3 weeks no reply (now Ireland isn’t THAT far) so I write a
second letter. Last Friday I finally receive a letter back from Cork in FRENCH?! saying that (and I’m not translating liberally here). “It’s nice to have received your complaint. We are sorry we couldn’t respond sooner to your letter because we actually don’t respond to letters and only handle complaints via phone. So here is your case number and please call us in Ireland so we can see if. Now I’m a student and the 3 calls I made to Apple were pretty pricey enough but I don’t think I can even call internationally on my pre-pay cell
phone card.

Anyway the moral of this pretty long story is that in 4 years, I and my girlfriend bought 3 Apple laptops for a total of

4,800). All died (some even multiple times) almost within a year of use, with lengthy repairs (luckely most in warranty but still these things shouldn’t happen to –frankly– more expensive hardware) and a whole lot of
discomfort. Only to have Apple send me on my marry way in debt at the post office, telecom company and worst of all my mother!

I know this probably doesn’t constitute a story but it sure feels good to voice it somewhere!

Thanks for listening



Edit Your Comment

  1. Is that a picture of some new conduction-charging laptop dock? Wow. What will Apple think of next?

  2. B says:

    I really don’t understand why he bought the second and third apples. After the first was so problematic, why not switch back to PCs? I guess the PC experience was even worse.

  3. Falconfire says:

    I will tell you, I understand his pain.

    I myself got hit with the iBookG3 of DOOM problem to the point of finally going off on a tech about the motherboard issues after I had bought a replacement iBook and ebayed the old one only to have Apple decided to further honor Applecare beyond the 3 years, then having the replacement fail 3 times (three times is the magic number for Apple, after that its a new machine)

    Eventually they replaced mine with a G4 and I havent had a issue with that one since (its still being used as a OS X portable image server infact)

    But I am wondering if a lot of the issues present are more thanks to where these issues took place, and not Apple themselves. I have never had a issue with Apple care, and I have gotten repairs of both work machines and personal back in under a week with only the iBook G3 fiasco ever being a extended problem. Maybe Applecare Europe really is just poor? Or maybe the language barrier is too much (I will say it was very hard trying to follow this guys story in English, which is obviously not his first language.

    Really is hard to say, but in terms of laptops, our Apples have not failed nearly as much as our Dells, the difference being Apple wants all laptops sent back to them for Applecare so they can track issues. Dell lets us repair them on the site.

  4. DeeJayQueue says:

    for every story like this there are a hundred happy mac users, and for every hundred happy mac users there’s a handful of windows users who have similar problems.

    It seems odd that there were so many failures, but maybe belgium gets the bottom of the lot, or maybe they don’t have strict QA protocols so more lemons get through… who knows.

    All i know is that aside from some general quirkiness, I’ve had about 7 Macs, starting from an old PowerMac 6100 through my new C2D iMac, and haven’t had a minute’s problem with any of them.

  5. Vinny says:

    On my 3rd Mac. Know what the only issue I had with any of them was?

    On the first one (a G4 iBook, btw), the “e” key’s letter rubbed off the keycap.

    Truth is, this guy just had incredibly bad luck all at once if his story is true. Honestly, after two failures, I’d rethink my strategy in buying computers. Dee Jay Que is 100% correct.

  6. For every happy mac users there’s an empty dimebag somwhere. Damn Mac hippies.

  7. RandomHookup says:

    Years ago, I let the Apple bandwagon pass me by when my company-provided Mac had both a hard drive and a floppy drive failure in the same year. I figure I must be a carrier of some dreaded Mac-killing disease.

  8. Yeah- I mean, I’m not saying it doesn’t really suck for this guy, and I feel for him; but it’s just bad luck, I think. Obviously Apple would not be so highly regarded in the computer world if his experience was at all common.

    I have had a 12″ Powerbook G4 for 4 years now- I drained the battery this year; otherwise it’s been perfect since the first time I powered it up.

  9. bookcat says:

    I had a Powerbook G4 of DOOOM! My problems, however, were dumber and more caused by me–I had to get it sent to Apple five times in a year because a small bit at te end of the power cord was coming off INSIDE the computer. It was sort of dumb.

  10. Asherah says:

    Seriously, he’s made his quota for “bad technology luck,” so he should be free and clear for the rest of his life.

    I would interject, that as a Mac user, I’m just glad that if a repair is warranted, I’m (most likely) having it done under my AppleCare extended warranty and usually having it ready to pick up at my local Apple store with humans I can talk to, vs. innane tech support over the phone.

  11. Plaid Rabbit says:

    would interject, that as a Mac user, I’m just glad that if a repair is warranted, I’m (most likely) having it done under my AppleCare extended warranty and usually having it ready to pick up at my local Apple store with humans I can talk to, vs. innane tech support over the phone.

    Yea, my dad got a bit indignant when I told him his new Apple would require him to pay for the phone tech suppport. All I had to do was remind him of the Hindi-fuled fiasco he had with his ‘free-but-still-a-rip-off’ Dell tech support, and his expression changed.

    He wasn’t all that happy, but at least saw the new angle on it.

  12. Meg Marco says:

    When I get within 12 feet of an Apple product it breaks. I blame myself.

  13. InsaneNewman says:

    Minor gripe: title implies that a survey or the like says that Mac users are less satisfied, when in fact, it is a SINGLE Mac Enthusiast becoming less enthused.

  14. FLConsumer says:

    I guess I’m the oddball — I switched from Mac to PC back in ’96 and never looked back, nor have my videos ever looked better.

  15. synergy says:

    I’ve had the same Dell used daily for 9 years. No real problems so far other than not having much memory for the bloated programs of today.

  16. J6787 says:

    I’ve had similar issues with Apple.

    I had to use them for work over a period of 3 years. The issues I had were unacceptable. Apple was at times nightmarish to deal with.

    My strong recommendation is to buy from a small mac shop and not Apple. I was treated very well by them and even given the opportunity to my powerbook g3 a tear after the sale for full cash back, just because Apple was stringing me along.

    Apple hardware is simply crap. During this same time I knew my university IT tech, my problems weren’t out of the ordinary.

    Here is my history with Apple quality.
    I had a g3 powerbook-
    back and forth 4 times, sometimes returned non-booting

    Resolution powerbook G4 400

    powerbook G4 400
    back and forth 3 times

    resolution purchaced Ipod 10 gig 1st gen as HD sold to parents after last repair

    Purchaced powerbook G4 550
    back and forth 3 times

    resolution purchaced Ibook g3 as interm machines

    Ibook g3
    Ibook g3 fails in 5 days, returned to compusa for full refund.

    Powerbook G4 550 returned gave to girlfriend
    resolution- out of warranty kinda flaky, had to replace the HD and DVD drives

    Ibook G4 800
    Caught fire
    out of warranty, apple refused to sell repairparts at discount. The PART was $700 on a $800 laptop.


    Purchaced an iMac for my father in trade for my old powerbook G4 400.

  17. Sam Glover says:

    I’ve been devouring Mac news lately. I share office space with four other attorneys, and I’m the lone PC holdout. But the MacBook Pro sexiness calls to me like the Ring to the Riders. Plus, they make fun of my setup all the time.

    But for now, the Mac won’t run the main practice management software I use, and there is no Mac equivalent (and I see no point in getting a Mac just to run Windows). Besides, Macs cost too damn much, so I’m staying PC for now.

  18. gwai lo says:

    The G5 I work on at home suffered from bad memory and a bad DVD drive in the first year and a half. All of this was fixed under the warranty, but did put a little kink in my work schedule. The thing is, you expect these problems from an older machine, not a new one, which is why it gets depressing.

    When the DVD drive broke, we couldn’t be without the computer for the length of time Apple needed to look at the tower, so my boyfriend took it out. We took it into the store and the guy looked at it in horror like it was a dead kitten or something. He told us that we should never EVER touch or remove anything in the computer and that we had probably just voided our Apple Care. I called Apple and they told me that none of that was true and just to send them the drive. They shipped a new one quick.

    Still, you would like to beleive you can depend on a nearly brand new computer.

  19. J6787 says:

    My laptops were purchaced after Apples return to profitability. They all had numerous, serious problems that were frequent.

    I was IT support for my university and kept in contact with my old boss. He helped me verify many of my issues were not isolated or infrequent.

    I didn’t like the fact that I would send in a laptop for repair and get back a unit that would turn on. I didn’t like the fact that it took months to get things looked at. I really didn’t like the fact I had to use the state attorney general to finally get a replacement.

    The phone support was also infurating. They would always ask for a credit card number; I would have to convince them that my display hinge breaking off was not a software issue.

    I’ve had 15 Apple computers. I highly recommend that people avoid current Apple products.

    I’m still really agrivated my last iBook burned its motherboard.

  20. Falconfire says:

    I cursed myself.

    Upon installing a peice of software for work I just bricked my Macbook Pro.

    No joke, I seriously just did it. Kernal Panic on boot and NOTHING works, I cant even get it to boot off the CD, I used a backdoor using my iBook as a external Firewire Superdrive to boot it and no dice.

    After going through just about everything I could think of, I called AppleCare and they led me through two more tricks before giving up themselves and telling me they are submitting a ticket for it for me. My box should be here monday morning.

    The rub is, the windows partition is perfectly fine, its just the OS X partition.

  21. GilloD says:

    I used to defend my Mac expirence to the death. Sure, I forked over the 300$ extra bucks for AppleCare and I felt like it was worth it. When my power adpater went on 3 seperate occassions, they overnighted me a new one, no cost!

    So, when my battery died (Just flat out died. It went from perfect to DEAD in, oh, an hour), I gave them a ring. We went through the spiel, the run around, the test boots, yadda yadda. I give her my address for the new battery and a credit card number and I say, “Well! That was easy!” and she says, “Well, it’ll be 107$”.

    Wait. What.

    “$107? I have Applecare”
    “Yeah, Applecare doesn’t cover the batteries for some reason”
    “But. I paid $300 for it. And it’s not like I dropped the battery in the bathtub, it just doesn’t work anymore. It broke. Your hardware broke”
    “Yeah, but we don’t cover that”

    So, in short, read the fine print, friends, because they are out to fuck you, even when they take you out to a nice dinner first.

  22. Wow, this Tom guy must be my long-lost twin. I am on my 8th (!!!) iPod. I’ve had 6 die on me (had to re-purchase one because it got stolen, and received another one as a gift). They all died for different reasons, so I’m 65% sure it’s not my fault. But the Apple Genius Bar dudes were usually courteous and gave me replacements immediately.

  23. zl9600 says:

    I’d just say to these people… go get a Dell. Then do a nice comparison to the experience when something breaks.

    The comment about Macs being more expensive? Sorry, that’s been debunked and disproven way too many times.

  24. The macs:
    – LCII (30 mhz underpowered POS, but not badly built)
    – Powercomputing PowerTower (100 mhz, not even made by apple!)
    – Lime Green Imac (333 mhz, didn’t die until the last few weeks before I bought the …)
    – Titanium powerbook.

    The last computer was an open box model that was abused by the product technology salespeople at the University I was going to. It came with scratches and a poweradapter that broke about a year later.

    One broken hinge, a non-functional PC card slot, and a dying right fan later, it is what I’m presently typing this from.

    Anyway: from what I can tell all ibooks break. In fact, all laptops break. Oh well.

  25. Ran Kailie says:

    Dr. Paul’s Comment
    Obviously Apple would not be so highly regarded in the computer world if his experience was at all common.

    Its highly regarded because of fanboy fanaticism. Its just as likely to die as any other laptop manufacturer. Apple or not, I guarantee most of their parts are made in the same 2nd and 3rd world countries the parts for my Dell Inspirion probably came from.

    People pay more for apple for the name, and cool factor. Because its so in now to have the apple hardware and the ipod bull. People buy it for the label appeal.

    Not to say it doesn’t have its uses, but Apple isn’t the golden boy every rabid apple nut claims it is.

  26. latisha says:

    sounds like bad luck. i’ve been a “card carrying” mac user for almost two years. started with an ipod mini [recently sold, no problems] and now i have a faithful powerbook g4 [no problems to speak of]. I love macs and would never switch back soley to pc’s. i have a pc to play “the sims 2” but my laptop gets the bulk of my attention. hate that he’s had such a problem with macs.

  27. meandertail says:

    I’m a Mac freak too, but a little irritated lately because my 15 month old PowerBook has narcolepsy – it gets a high temperature message (in error) and immediately puts itself to sleep. Its been in for service three times (its my work computer though and isn’t getting serviced directly thru Apple – not sure who does it though) but still its not fixed. Even though this is apparently a widespread problem among PB owners who got their computers around the same time I did, it doesn’t seem like Apple really knows what the problem is or how to fix it. Now we’re trying to get it replaced, having passed the three major repairs mark.

    Though up until this point I’ve had Macs for the last 13 years and I’ve never needed a repair until now.

  28. PsychicPsycho3 says:

    Did you mean conversion and not conversation?

  29. jeblis says:

    for every story like this there are a hundred happy mac users, and for every hundred happy mac users there’s a handful of windows users who have similar problems.

    Got so real data there or did you just pull that out of your ass?

  30. jeblis says:

    Obviously Apple would not be so highly regarded in the computer world if his experience was at all common.

    It’s not really regarded any better than a PC in the computer world, just amongst mac fans.

  31. suddenlyeverything says:

    My wife has had so many Macs die on her that she’s switched over to the thinkpads, which I use at work. They are indestructible. Also, applecare, genius bar, workers wiped out her harddrive without asking her, even though she explicitly asked for the data transfer. We are still working on the lawsuit. I see Apples now and think of my dads old Jaguars – expensive, nice looking, crazy fans, prone to break.