If Your Apple Is A Lemon, Try Emailing Steve Jobs

Yep, it’s another one of those “email Steve Jobs” posts.

Reader Stephen wrote us a nice lengthy complaint email and cc’d Steve Jobs:

Hi Consumerist!

I purchased a MacBook Pro in November of 2006. Prior to the expiration of my one year warranty, I’ve had several component failures. Since being without the laptop affects my work productivity, I put the repairs off and figured I’d just bring it in with a laundry list of items just before the warranty expired.

On October 15th, I asked my wife to drop the laptop off at the Apple Store in Raleigh, NC for a display-related buzzing sound, a top case replacement (the coating was peeling off) and a SuperDrive replacement (an Apple firmware upgrade killed it). The Genius at the store said the buzzing noise was a known issue and that it was caused by a capacitor on the logic board. He then said they would not be replacing the logic board. They did agree to replace the top case and SuperDrive.

My wife called me immediately after dropping the laptop off and told me about the refusal. Knowing solid-state electronics should not make mechanical noises, I called Apple and the representative suggested I either mail it off to the Repair Depot or take it to another Apple Store. Not wanting to mail the laptop to some distant repair depot, I asked my wife to run back to the Apple store, retrieve the laptop, and bring it by the other Apple store in Durham, NC.

Upon arrival at the Durham store, my wife was informed the Geniuses were all booked up for the day, and was asked to schedule an appointment or come back another time.

Frustrated, I called Apple back and arranged to have the MacBook Pro returned to their Repair Depot. I sent the laptop off and got it back with a new top case, new logic board and a new SuperDrive a couple of days later. Immediately after powering the laptop up, the buzzing noise returned. I escalated this to Dina in Apple’s Executive Customer Care group at which point I was asked to drop the laptop back in the mail or drive down to the Apple store again. Not wanting to go through the hassle of reformatting and re-installing all of my software (I am covered by an NDA), I said I’d think about it and get back to her. At this point, I had decided the extra hassle for the buzzing noise wasn’t worth the effort.

A few days later, I noticed the mouse button was sticking and made popping sounds when pressed. I called Dina back and she made me an appointment at the Raleigh store for them to look at this new problem and resolve the buzzing sound while I was there. I arrived on time and had to wait an additional 45 minutes after my appointed time for a Genius to become available. The technician determined the noise was coming from the display inverter (as I had originally suggested) and that the mouse button was defective. The mouse button and trackpad are part of the top case, so Apple would need to replace the top case yet again.

The top case and display inverter were ordered, and I was told I’d receive a telephone call when the parts arrived, at which point I’d need to drop the laptop off again.

For those of us who are counting, I’ve had to bring the laptop into either an Apple store or a Repair Depot 4 times thus far and have driven over 200 miles to the two Apple stores. All of these repairs and trips are in the past month. What do I have to show for it? My laptop still needs a top case and a display inverter. If Apple gets this next repair right, it will have taken them a total of 5 tries to fix a couple of common problems.

I expressed these concerns to Dina on the phone today and told her I didn’t feel it was acceptable to require so many trips, escalations and telephone calls to get some simple warranty repairs accomplished. Given the situation, I asked Dina if she would be willing to arrange for a replacement laptop and she declined.

I made it excruciatingly clear that I will not be purchasing any additional Apple products.

This is my first experience with Apple’s warranty program. Needless to say, I am not impressed with their troubleshooting and repair abilities. I am even less impressed with their refusal to address these shortcomings by simply replacing a machine they obviously have no interest in fixing. Please keep my tale of woe in mind if you’re contemplating an Apple purchase.

Repair History.. in the past 30 days and four tries:

SuperDrive Replacement (dead)
Battery Replacement (dead)
Top Case Replacement (peeling/cracking)
Mainboard Replacement (mis-diagnosis of noisy Display Inverter)

The Fifth try (when parts arrive, hopefully on 11/12)
Display Inverter (noise)
Top Case Replacement (to replace the failing trackpad assembly on the new part)

Before we got around to posting the letter, we received another email letting us know that Stephen “had a new laptop less than 48 hours after sending in that email.”

So if you’re having problems getting your issue escalated, why not write us an email like Stephen’s and cc it to Steve Jobs? We don’t know who or what mysterious entity reads sjobs@apple.com, but something is out there.


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