Not Even Apple's Most Obnoxious Geniuses Can Solve My MacBook Problem

Mark is one of those longtime loyal Apple customers who Apple haters love to hate. For the first time, though, he’s run into an intractable technical problem that even the Geniuses can’t solve. The computer freezes when he uses wifi, which is problematic for anyone using a computer during the last decade. He’s taken his MacBook to the store in person, called Apple tech support (on his iPhone, naturally)

He writes:

I have been a loyal Apple customer – along with my family, my girlfriend, and her family for over a decade. I continue to have a recurring problem that Apple technicians cannot solve. They have given me a buckshot array of solutions, none of which are working. In the off chance you read this, below is my problem.

I recently did an update for my 2009 MacBook with OS X Lion. After completing the Apple software updates, my computer began to freeze when I used wifi. I tried a clean install, looked up solutions on Apple’s discussion board, and even posted a question myself. Nothing worked.So, I called up Apple and their technicians tried to help and escalated my call to some engineers and senior technicians who reviewed my kernel logs. They told me to do another clean install and take my MacBook to the Genius Bar. I followed their suggestions.

The technician at the Genius Bar conducted some tests of my machine and found nothing wrong. This genius told me he needs to find a solution to close out this case. Apparently that is part of his performance measure. Also, his manager came by not once, twice, but three times because he did not solve my problem within 15 minutes. Surprise surprise – he wanted me to fork over hundreds of dollars for a new logic board and a new airport card. Even though his tests showed
that both were in perfect working condition.

So, they kept my laptop for a few days and conducted more extensive testing. These technicians forgot to call me and tell me what the results were of these tests and installed an airport card without my permission. They kindly recognized this oversight and did not charge me for the unauthorized installation. I was told this would solve my problem. It didn’t.

So, I call Apple phone support again. I talked to one technician who eventually transfers me to a second representative who told me that he was a supervisor. His name, according to him, is [redacted]. [He] tells me that he drank “too much coffee” today, could solve “any problem with my computer,” and begins peppering me with questions in a rapid-fire sequence. [redacted] interrupts me when I try to tell him that he is talking too fast. Next, he talks slowly as if I am a 5 year old and demands that I answer his question in “Yes” or “No” answers. If I don’t, he interrupts me and says: “Yes or No. This is simple.” He offers a couple of suggestions that do not solve the problem.

Next, he suggests that I replace my logic board, realizes that my AppleCare has expired, then tells me that I should pay $20 and upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion. I begin to question his suggestion – how can a hardware problem be solved by me buying more software? He proceeds to list why I would benefit from an upgrade to Mountain Lion even if my current problem cannot be solved. This gentleman tells me this problem is complicated, that he will need more time to “review the details of the case,” and will call me back in a few hours.

After waiting by my iPhone for over 6-hours, I decide to e-mail CEO Tim Cook and VP of Retail Jim Browett. I get a response from Executive Customer Service representative. This executive representative transfers my call to a executive technician. This technician instructs me to re-install Lion on a new partition, which will take a few hours. He would not give me his direct number, but told me to contact the executive representative who would, in turn, contact him. I do this. Twice. No response. I am sitting by my iPhone for hours waiting for a return call from the executive representative just so she could transfer my call to the executive technician.

I may just write Tim Cook a letter and send it to via USPS since I cannot use the internet with my MacBook anymore.

Sometimes a software upgrade can solve hardware problems, but generally Apple’s own operating system doesn’t cause problems like this with their own relatively limited selection of hardware configurations.

Mark has already done what we recommend–appealing to the office of CEO Tim Cook. The warranty is up, so consider taking it to a third-party repair shop that polishes Apple products to see whether they can give you a cheaper logic board repair. He could also try calling the company’s switchboard and try to locate the executive customer service representative that way. It’s a long shot, but worth a try.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.