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Jeff Williams
May 1, 2003, 08:28 PM
As some of you may or may not know, for the past several months I have been posting messages on this forum - and others across the web - regarding my struggle with Apple Computer resulting from the purchase of a defective Titanium PowerBook, and its' subsequent repairs and replacements. Over a period of 20 months, these units were replaced three times and repaired nearly a dozen times. I don't have an explanation as to exactly WHY this has occurred, I only know that is has, and that the experience has been both frustrating and obnoxious.

If you're so inclined to read about the full experience, please visit my website (http://williamsdesign.com/apple.shtml) and I will provide you with additional details. If not, we can pick up the story right here. I am now on my fourth Titanium PowerBook, which has failed. I returned it to Apple for service, and it came back to me non-operational. It was then returned to Apple Engineering in Elk Grove, CA.

When my defective computer was originally inspected last week by Apple, I was told that the damage was caused to the computer when a RAM chip was improperly seated by their repair staff. This, according to Robin Roberts (at the time my corporate executive relations contact) caused some arcing within the case, and there were clear marks on the inside where "charring" has occurred.

I must note that she went out of her way - to the extreme - to downplay the nature of this damage. Personally, I have had Macs for a long time, and I had a hard time believing that the problem could have possibly occurred in the way it was described to me, but then again - I use Macs because I don't WANT to have to be a computer expert, I just want to get stuff done. It's like my car. I can change the oil and do basic maintenance, but other than that, I just want to drive it. I have no interest in becoming a mechanic - or a computer hardware technician.

Regardless, an offer was made by Apple to replace the unit with ANOTHER Titanium PowerBook. I declined, because this would have been my fifth of the line, and I no longer want to deal with what I view as the inherent defects this model seems to suffer. Sue me, flame me, whatever - this HAS BEEN my PERSONAL and PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE. I asked for a CREDIT of my ORIGINAL PURCHASE PRICE so that I could purchase a different (yes, newer) model computer (hopefully one I would have fewer problems with), the 17" Aluminum PowerBook. I never (NEVER) asked Apple to cover the cost of the upgrade, I offered to do that myself.

Likewise, the 17" Aluminum PowerBook was - and still is - the ONLY comparable, non-titanium option available. Show me a 15" Aluminum, and I'll bite. If for no other reason, it will fit in my computer bag.

After this offer was refused, I gave Apple another option - a refund of the purchase price, which is prescribed by the Apple Warranty: "If a defect exists, at its option Apple will (1) repair the product at no charge, using new or refurbished replacement parts, (2) exchange the product with a product that is new or which has been manufactured from new or serviceable used parts and is at least functionally equivalent to the original product, or (3) refund the purchase price of the product."

Via the pit bull of the corporate executive relations division, Patrick Ekstrand, Apple again said no. Quite firmly, I might add. I then punted and asked Apple to repair the computer, and I would deal with the issue through Small Claims Court, as it was clear that I wasn't getting satisfaction through "normal" channels. I'm pretty sure they thought I was bluffing, but I filed that day.

On Monday of this week, I was *supposed* to receive my defective PowerBook back from Apple's repair center. When it did not arrive as promised, I did some investigating - only to discover the unit had been placed on an "Engineering Hold." Red alert, captain.

Today, three days later, I received a call from Nancy Laxson-Heighton, a project manager within Apple's legal department. She indicated that Apple engineers had gone over my computer again, and NOW determined that the arcing in question COULD NOT have occurred during any normal usage, and that it was their contention that this damage was caused by misuse or intentional sabotage of my computer. My warranty has been voided, and Apple will only repair the unit if I pay for that service and the related parts.

Of course, I categorically deny her baseless allegations, and I have sworn out out a legal affidavit to that effect today. This claim by Apple is, plain and simple, PURE FICTION. I'm sure the Apple zealot masses will use their claim as cannon fodder for a flame attack - whatever. I've been down that road before, and I know the truth.

As for Apple, I will see you in court. Specifically - May 21st at 9:30 AM. Bring your checkbook.

For the rest of you, please learn from my experiences. Apple is a large corporate entity and not unlike any other in the computer industry - or any other industry. If you think ours is a "different" lifestyle... or somehow superior beyond the (normally) rock-solid hardware and futuristic, ultra-stable OS - well quite frankly, you've been sold a bad bill of goods. If you call C.E.O. Steve Jobs by his first name (Yo, Steve!) or think for a second that he gives a rat's ass about anything other than separating you from your money... well, you're naive.

Yes, Apple Computers are normally well built, extremely reliable and not prone to failure. They have to be. They are slower and cost thousands more than comparable Windows boxes, and there has to be some kind of justification for that - reliability is it. Likewise, if everyone was having the same experience with Apple hardware as I am, the stock would be in the toilet (well, more so than it already is) and they would be having a fire sale at 1 Infinite loop in Cupertino.

Just be prepared, if you get a bad computer, or SEVERAL bad computers, expect do things Apple's way - or to bend over and grab your ankles. Apple will be more willing to do anything - divulge private information a la John Manzione - even create baseless and unproveable accusations - rather than deal with an actual problem. You don't like or agree with my views? That's your business. Just be a smarter consumer than I have been - know your rights and stand up for them. Apple's certainly not going to do that for you.

Caveat Emptor, my ass.

NavyIntel007
May 1, 2003, 08:49 PM
Dude that sounds like some bad Karma going your way. You sure you don't have any ex girlfriends who practice voodoo? :D

Kwyjibo
May 1, 2003, 08:57 PM
i've said this b4 (even in the other threads u've started) i feel truly bad for you and your situation but unfourtunately i've had the opposite expeerience. my iBook has had two diferent mobo's so far and the second time i was quite pissed and i started speakign with a cusoemr service liason who really sped up the repair process (they claimed i bent my LCd, she fixed that problem) and so far so good. I hope it never dies again but eventually. I feel sorry for you and i hope you win (go beat city hall!) the best of luck to you, this is like an old girlfriend with all the games and lies and such.

Sun Baked
May 1, 2003, 09:06 PM
Just remember that the sabotage allegation occured AFTER you declined their offer of a repair and/or replacement & your having stated that you'd seek a refund via small claims court.

Sort of makes it look like they changed their story from their mistake to sabotage only after being notified of legal action.

This is almost as bad as a vehicle dealer voiding you car's warranty for abuse because you've had a horrible experience getting a problem fixed and/or bought a lemon -- and after you finally notified them you'd seek to have the car declared a lemon.

Rai
May 1, 2003, 09:39 PM
:( I feel for you man that seems like a terrible ordeal. I think it is a good thing your fighting, to many people let it slide, and large corps, get us to people giving up from frustration.

seamuskrat
May 1, 2003, 10:17 PM
I too had TiBook issues. I never did resolve them fully, just learned to live with them. The good news is that I have had 15 GOOD experiences vs 1 bad, but it sure does suck when its you having the bad one.
On a sad note, the cost of sending a brand new machine via fedex is so small compared to the cost of actually have an attorney read the court suit and show up for a hearing. So screwed up IMHO.

law guy
May 1, 2003, 10:38 PM
I do love my Mac, but you're right. Apple is not a few guys in a garage anymore and Apple's duty is to the guy on Ameritrade who own's .00001% just like any other company and folks who keep costs down get to stay around. There was a guy in law school with me who took on Winbook in the 90s and won with ease. Since you're in small claims court, hearsay and other rules of evidence don't really apply so you'll be able to testify as to what was said to you by Apple employees earlier. Apple may have a credibility problem with the Judge, esp. since you can show that you went through all the Apple channels you were directed to go through, and were told what you were told.

I'm sure you've got all of your materials together, but it's a good idea to have any and all correspondence, service receipts, etc. together as well as a written list of any times/dates of conversations including names, and content notes.

Also - and not in the way of advice, but just friendly banter - but how long has it been since you purchased the machine? Apple's return policy is likely trumped by the Uniform Commercial Code provisions of California state law. The UCC provides the opportunity for a purchaser to inspect and return for price paid if defects are discovered after a reasonable time. That includes giving the seller a chance to "cure" the defect, which Apple was not able/willing to do. Also, allowing the seller to cure is not required in many states. Apple may argue that you accepted their return policy as a contract when you purchased your machine, but the elements of a contract really are not met and it is likely an "adhesion contract".

Also, your state's law may provide for a return period on consumer goods of 30 days. Many states do have such a provision. Findlaw.com or a state website is likely to have state case law on-line for free. You can also try the Georgetown Law Library on-line at www.ll.georgetown.edu. Go to state materials. Your local BBB office may be able to let you know as well (and you can file a consumer complaint while you're there).

Also - if Apple doesn't show up, one shouldn't accept a continuance but should ask the Judge for a "default judgement" to be entered against Apple. This means that The person bringing the claim would get what they asked for (within reason). One can then ask the Judge how to enforce his/her ruling.

It may seem silly, but "magic words" are somewhat important in ct. settings. "I don't want it" really doesn't get you anywhere, but "I inspected the "good" under the "UCC" and found it to be defective. I gave apple the opportunity to "cure the defect" but they did not. I am therefore "not accepting delivery" of the good and returning it to the "seller". And the like.

By way of a disclaimer (ethics committee's are very strict), the above doesn't not constitute legal advice and is intended as only a general discussion of general consumer provisions for informational purposes only and should not be relied on. If you would like legal advice, I advise you to consult an attorney licensed in the State of California and proficient in consumer law.

Jeff Williams
May 1, 2003, 11:50 PM
Thank you for your messages of support. Law Guy especially - thanks for the advice. I will keep all of you posted.

Wyrm
May 2, 2003, 01:20 AM
-Er that story sucks.

Moral of the story could be: don't be confrontational to Apple support... or suffer their wrath. :(

I've had nothing but great support from Apple - but then Apple Japan has a different playbook.

-Wyrm

shadowfax
May 2, 2003, 01:49 AM
Originally posted by Wyrm
-Er that story sucks.

Moral of the story could be: don't be confrontational to Apple support... or suffer their wrath. :(

I've had nothing but great support from Apple - but then Apple Japan has a different playbook.

-Wyrm I hope not. this seems like a clear cut case of apple going back on the terms of its own warranty. i hope they are forced to refund him in full and pay his legal expenses, if not also give him a free upgrade to a 17 inch AlBook or something. this is customer abuse, and apple shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.

that said, Jeff, if i were you, i would never leave my house for fear of getting crushed by a piano or assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in the back of a carriage. good lord, man!

Wyrm
May 2, 2003, 10:30 AM
Well I give Jeff points for pushing his rights, but <sorry Jeff> we are only seeing one side of the story. I'm sure it sounds different from Apple's side - who's right? Well, now it looks like the legal system will decide that. I know that businesses will avoid litigation unless they have a darn good reason - who knows, maybe this is a classic case of miscommunication: Each side thinks the other is out to screw them. Who wouldn't get a bit defensive?

I'd love to hear the legal resolution, and I wish you good luck in your case Jeff.

From Jeff's story:
-------------------
"That's not our policy" the representative explained.
"That's ok." I said. "It's my policy. Replace it or I will simply return it."
-------------------

Sounds pretty confrontational to me - I'm sure that earned Jeff a glowing raport in their service database. Sometimes a little diplomacy is the key to achieving goals, rather than gung-ho-ism.
Yes - it sucks to grab your ankles - but probably Apple thought they were grabbing theirs, and if you get in a pissing war with a company, they can usually piss much farther. Does that mean you become a docile sheep, accepting the eventual butchers blade? Er, no - but don't show your cards too soon either - or attack too soon.

Yes, I agree with the spirit of the law, Jeff forked over a large chunk of cash for something that wasn't defect free - Apple should make a best effort to fix that - it sounds like they tried to in their own way and that wasn't acceptable to Jeff. What is the relative cost to Apple either way? Zero if it's an isolated case, massive if it isn't.

Is this a rabid problem with Apple? No. I don't think so. Is there a product defect? I'm not sure - but there are plenty of happy titanium owners with no problems (well, besides that DVD Drive slot problem, and the paint - but these were fixed). Statistically, Jeff would be on the far range of the curve - but even the most unlikely events have a non-zero probability - maybe getting replacements instead of fixes made things worse? I've just had Apple fix stuff, and they've always done a great job.

I hope it is a communication problem that can get resolved - looks like it will have to be in a court of law. In America, where an old lady can sue MacDonald's for millions for making the coffee too hot after SHE burned herself by dropping it on herself, who wouldn't have a defensive customer policy?

-Wyrm

Jeff Williams
May 2, 2003, 01:46 PM
When you read this example, you need to understand that I have summarized a day or two of phone calls into one sentence, While the version posted here is essentially accurate, there was much more to this converstion.

That being said... if you purchased a brand-new, $3000 laptop, would you expect it to function correctly out of the box? Would you allow Apple to repair it? I don't know about you, but when I buy something NEW, I expect it to WORK. A repaired computer falls under the "refurb" category. By law, Apple (or any other company) cannot sell these as new, and when they DO sell them (marked as refurbs) they are sold at dramatically discounted prices.

I bought a NEW computer. Not a refurb.

I stood up for my rights as a consumer. Apple's policy on this is Apple-friendly, but not consumer friendly. A computer out of the box should work correctly. If not, it should be replaced - no qestions asked by the manufacturer or reseller. This is another good reason to buy with a credit card, because that will provide some protections in this regard.

Actually, I did Apple a favor by letting them exchange it directly. to have gone through the store would have been EASIER for me (and a right guaranteed me by Washington State law) but would have added considerably to the costs of reentering the unit into their inventory and dealing with the unit through a third party.

But I digress.

If you think this position is unreasonable, then we will have to agree to disagree. There is absolutely nothing you can say that will change my mind. A new unit should be 100% functional. If you disagree, that is your right. Respectfully, manufacturers all over the planet (like Apple) are hoping there are more of you... than more of me.

QCassidy352
May 2, 2003, 01:59 PM
"A new unit should be 100% functional."

I agree with you Jeff. My brother got a G4 imac at microcenter that turned on once, crashed, and would simply not power up again. We called apple, and they suggested repair... this for a brand new computer that had been out of the box for all of 5 minutes. I thanked them for their "help," hung up, and took it back to microcenter, where they promptly exchanged it for a brand new one. (which, I'm happy to say, has been running perfectly for months now.)

I hope you get your money back, and maybe even a little something for all the hassle you've gone through for this. Sounds really unpleasent all the way around.

WilliamGates
May 2, 2003, 02:20 PM
I might keep a record of dissatisfied Apple posts and the links thereof if nothing more to prove Apples service dept. does send back occasional damaged goods. As far as I am concerned their service techs are hit and miss; sometimes great service and sometimes horrendous; they have some really bad techs. I remember one guy posted there was chocolate smeared on his Ti when he got it back. This could be even evidence in court, especially if the service posts are dated before you had your problem. This boosts your claim that they are the ones doing the damage to your Ti, not necessarily the other way around.

Le Big Mac
May 2, 2003, 02:36 PM
It's too bad that a company that makes products as good as Apple does doesn't back it up with equally good service.

No doubt most people on these boards are really happy with their products. But when something goes wrong, all too often apple treats the customer with disdain.

Jobs needs to look not only at the new products Apple turns out, but at the customers who buy those new products. I suspect he hasn't yet really bothered.

Taft
May 5, 2003, 12:50 PM
I wish I would have gotten into this conversation back when the original thread was posted. I would have liked to stand up for Jeff.

I would completely agree with everyone that has said that Apple service is hit and miss. They are. Its a fact. As Jeff said, if you believe that Apple has "special" repair and warranty policies that are better than the rest of the computer industry, your kidding yourself. Big time.

I've had very good experiences with Apple. Like when they replaced a blown logic board, out of warranty, without asking any questions AND gave me a free Airport card. Then, I've had bad experiences. Like when they wouldn't repair a PB screen damaged through normal use from the keyboard (they finally agreed to do work on it, when I got the PB back, no work had been done and I was charged. Nice.) Or the time when they tried to charge me for a new logic board when my Mac kept crashing hard (I took the computer to a friend with RAM testing capabilities and we determined it to be a bad RAM module. Nice.)

Apple is a company out to make money. They have very corporate policies towards repairs and returns. Its really not surprising.

And for all of you who look with incredulity at Jeff's claims, wake up to the world of statistics. This is just one of those 3+ standard deviation happenings. Do a search for hardware failure on the internet and you'll be overwhelmed with stories of 60% failure rates of hard drives (buy 15 and nine will run, garaunteed!), data lost to "click of death" zip drives 5 times in a row, a computer that needed the logic board replaced 3-4 times! Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Google has proof of it. Take a look.

Taft

Jeff Williams
May 5, 2003, 12:55 PM
received my non-functional powerbook back from the fine folks at Apple today. Inside, under the keyboard, a little yellow decal pointing to some kind of odd mark, appears to be discoloration due to arcing.

Didn't look in here before the last time I sent it off, so I can't tell you where in the timeline this damage occured or what caused it.

Interesting to note is the fact that several other "charring" marks are inside the unit as well... not on the electronic parts, but on the plastic "framework" (?) I will try and take some photos and post them on the web so you can see.

However, the bottom line is that if these marks indicate "inentional" damage, I would sure love to know how they were put there. I wouldn't have a clue.

Jeff Williams
May 5, 2003, 12:58 PM
Originally posted by Taft
I wish I would have gotten into this conversation back when the original thread was posted. I would have liked to stand up for Jeff... Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Thanks for the support, Taft. Sounds like you have had your share of Apple service problems as well.

maradong
May 5, 2003, 02:46 PM
Originally posted by seamuskrat
I too had TiBook issues. I never did resolve them fully, just learned to live with them. The good news is that I have had 15 GOOD experiences vs 1 bad, but it sure does suck when its you having the bad one.
On a sad note, the cost of sending a brand new machine via fedex is so small compared to the cost of actually have an attorney read the court suit and show up for a hearing. So screwed up IMHO.

hm got some 500 bad on wintelmachines and some 3 good ones :) until i installed mandrake linux, it is just the best for daily use. :D

Jeff Williams
May 5, 2003, 08:11 PM
As I mentioned above, I finally received my PowerBook back from Apple Computer today. True to their word, with my warranty voided for my supposed product tampering, the unit was not repaired, and as such was not functional. No surprises there.

What I did expect was some kind of documentation explaining that my warranty had been voided and explaining to me in detail exactly what I could have done to sabotage this computer. For the first time I have had the opportunity to see this so-called "charring" and I can say without a doubt that:

(1.) Yup, pretty obvious. Hard to miss these marks. Sure wish I had the presence of mind to look before sending it off to Apple. Personally, while I am not an engineer or computer repair specialist, I think something inside the computer caused them. Of course, I am not ruling out the possibility that Apple Computer may have intentionally done something to the computer in order to void the warranty. Do I have any proof of that? No... but neither do they that I did anything to it. So, it seems only fair that I keep that possibility open.

(2.) I have no clue what caused them.

I took some time and tried to take some photos to share with all of you today. They didn't turn out great, my digital camera is a nice one (Nikon CoolPix 5700) but doesn't do very good macro work in less than stellar lighting. I need some kind of remote release for the thing.

I will try taking pictures again later in the week if anyone is interested.

Here are the images:

http://williamsdesign.com/images/applecrap/char1.jpg

This is the large master shot the other images are cropped out of. You can clearly see the little yellow "attention" arrow a tech put on the RAM stick to point out the damage they claim was "unnatural" in nature and must be my fault, somehow.

http://williamsdesign.com/images/applecrap/char2.jpg

The main problem area again. If anyone has experience with a similar looking symptom, I would appreciate some info. Again, when Apple engineers first diagnosed the problem, they said THEIR failure to seat a RAM stick correctly caused the arc, which shorted out the unit. After I refused their settlement offer and indicated I would like them to repair the unit, and that I would persue a more appropriate settlement in small claims court, then their engineers came to a new and different conclusion.

http://williamsdesign.com/images/applecrap/char3.jpg

But here's the wierd part. There are also markings and discolorations on other parts of the interior, markings that look a lot more like what I would describe as arcing. These were NOT identified as problems by Apple. I sure would like to know what caused them.

Last thing, there are still a lot of people out ther who think I am some anti-Mac type who is just out trolling. Don't know what to tell you. Many have asked for proof, the best I can do at this moment in time is a copy of the court filing. So here you go:

http://williamsdesign.com/images/applecrap/filing.jpg

Details to follow as they become available.

mnkeybsness
May 5, 2003, 08:42 PM
i just don't believe this guy...

i have always had great care from apple, even with my standard 1-year warranty. they have been more than willing to fix anything that has come up and it's always been done right and to my satisfaction in a shorter time frame than expected.

Wyrm
May 6, 2003, 02:14 AM
Jeff and others have brought up a good point.

Is it better to go to the store where you bought it or call Apple support?

How does it work when you buy it from an Apple store? Are these like an indept merchant, or is that really Apple and you should go through Apple service? (Not sure - no Apple stores in this country)

It sounds like people have had better luck going to the store they bought it from?

-Wyrm

Jeff Williams
May 6, 2003, 10:50 AM
Unfortunately, I bought mine from a reseller who does not offer service. They *did* ASSIST with the first exchange, but after that, it was "Call Apple, we don't do anything with / know anything about these computers."

My original vendor has been helpful trying to rectify the situation. However, Apple has blown them off exactly as they have blown me off.

I would be interesting to see how this went if purchase from an Apple store. I think it's always best to have a face-to-face relationship with salespeople, repair staff, etc. The way it is now is very cold and impersonal, and I believe that atmosphere lends itself to these kinds of problems.

Mblazened
May 6, 2003, 12:00 PM
Those additional marks inside your tibook that we not mentioned by apple- they don't look like much. I see some strange marks inside computers sometimes. Probably, whoever was working on it at the time had some computer dust on his hands and smeared it.

Your story is definitely a nightmare. It's strange they would pin this sort of thing on you, however its just as strange that you could have 4 powerbooks go bad on you. For that, apple may have a good reason to be suspicious of you.

Jeff Williams
May 6, 2003, 02:01 PM
Originally posted by Mblazened
Those additional marks inside your tibook that we not mentioned by apple- they don't look like much. I see some strange marks inside computers sometimes. Probably, whoever was working on it at the time had some computer dust on his hands and smeared it.

You might be correct, but the marks don't come off. They very much seemed burned in to the plastic. I still think they are strange.

law guy
Jun 2, 2003, 08:24 PM
Jeff - whatever happened with Apple? Any final result?

Pipian
Jun 2, 2003, 09:27 PM
What Happen?