Apple Support Horror Story...then SUCCESS!

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by blybug, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. blybug macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2003
    Galveston, TX
    Below is an email I sent this afternoon to an Apple Customer Relations rep I've been working with regarding a bum Powerbook I purchased. Within an hour of this email I received a phone call from the rep, (finally) offering to replace the machine with a new Powerbook (with significant upgrades :) ). I share this to demonstrate that if you are patient, polite, and reasonable in your expectations, things usually work out. After reading this some may say I waited too long and was too patient, but I suspect if I fussed any sooner or any louder I would not have ended up as happy in the end.

    Incidentally, I BCC'ed the email to On one hand, I don't even know if that is the right email address (it didn't bounce back) and anyhow I doubt Steve actually reads these emails and certainly did not have time to read that email within the time frame of 1 hour in which I received the call back. On the other hand, the speed at which this ultimately was addressed makes a little part of me believe that Steve personally stormed into the service rep's office, slammed the email his desk, and said "FIX THIS. NOW." :rolleyes:

    Hello Jeff -

    I started writing this email to "make a long story short" but unfortunately it got long anyhow.

    Can I summarize my frustration for you here...I spent $1500 on a Powerbook on 5/21/05. It is currently in for repair for the second time, the repair center having failed to repair the initial buzzing issue, and in the process creating another issue (broken Airport slot and card missing). Currently the machine is on hold awaiting a part not due until 7/22 and at that point I still have no great confidence that the issues will be resolved. So 2 months and $1500 later I'm still without an acceptably functioning Powerbook.

    At this point I fail to understand why this computer has to be "mine"...I identified unacceptable behavior from it at the initial startup chime when I first opened it, and within 12 hours of initially receiving it in May I started this process with AppleCare and support which is still not resolved. Why can't this machine be kept by Apple, repaired adequately and placed back in the "refurb" pile for someone else to buy next month, and let me, the guy who already paid $1500 and has been waiting 2 months, have another machine that works properly??

    Below is the long version...


    I purchased a 12" Powerbook from the Apple Store refurb website on 5/21/2005 for $1499 (web order W1315XXXX). I had been planning on buying a new Powerbook to replace my Pismo G3 for some time, but purchased at this time because I had an elaborate Keynote presentation to give on 6/4/05 which I had created on my G5 but would not play adequately on the Pismo, or even my wife's G4 iBook. Once the presentation was over, the Powerbook would become my wife's as she had outgrown her G4 iBook (which itself is suffering from a failing hard drive) from last year.

    Immediately upon opening the brand new Powerbook for the very first time it made this buzzing noise, which I first thought to be the fan. Numerous calls to Apple Support got me transferred around from tech to tech none of whom did any real troubleshooting with me, but all repeatedly implied to me that the noise was probably just my perception, and that a certain amount of fan noise was acceptable and within spec. I'm no novice and did not appreciate being treated this way, and clearly this was not the case with this buzz.

    On my own I determined the buzzing sound was not, in fact, the fan, but actually audio related. Not exactly coming from the speakers themselves, as the mute key and volume controls didn't alter the buzz, but probably some sort of ground loop related to the audio hardware. Since the buzz goes away with use of the headphone/audio out jack, I decided to keep the Powerbook to use until after my presentation on 6/4/05, then send it in for repair.

    Upon opening the VGA display adapter cable that came with the Powerbook just a few days before my big presentation I found it was actually a mini-VGA to VGA adapter, NOT a mini-DV to VGA adapter, and therefore would not work with the computer that it was shipped with. Honest mistake I'm sure by whomever packed the box, but nonetheless I then had to order the proper part from the Apple Store ($19.00 web order W1331XXXX) and pay for overnight shipping ($16.00) to assure it would arrive on time for my presentation. I was not offered any special deal on the part or the shipping, or even an apology, further adding to my frustration...

    <<< BTW, the presentation was awesome and I got plenty of the usual "how-did-you-do-that's" from the Powerpoint-enslaved masses. :) >>>

    The next week I called AppleCare and explained in great detail to the Apple Care agent what the problem was, how to reproduce it, and how I had isolated it to an audio buzz, though I suspected it was not the speakers themselves. A dispatch was created (D467XXXX) and the machine reached the repair center on 6/10/05. I monitored the online status and immediately the repair went "On Hold". When I called about this I was told it was because they could not duplicate the problem (though I had described the issue and how to duplicate it in detail). I re-explained the problem to the agent and the online status showed the computer back "In Repair" 6 days later on 6/20/05, and I received it back on 6/23/05, almost 2 weeks after it arrived at the repair center.

    Immediately upon opening the brand-newly repaired Powerbook it made THE EXACT SAME NOISE at the startup chime and with any other audio output...exactly the same as before. At that time I also noted that the computer was not attaching to my home's wireless network, and soon discovered that this was because my Airport Extreme Card had been REMOVED and not replaced. I called AppleCare and explained that the original problem had not been fixed, and that my Airport Extreme Card was gone. The solution was to create another repair dispatch to readdress the original problem (D476XXXX) and that he would initiate a search for my Airport Card and if unable to find it would "drop ship" me a new one.

    This was when I had my initial contact with you in Customer Relations (4952XXXX) on 6/23/05 at the suggestion of the agent who initiated the new dispatch. Meanwhile I had another Airport Extreme Card in the house, and when I tried to insert it in the slot, it did not click into place as it should. I suspected at the that someone at the repair center had attempted to reinsert or force my other one (maybe upside down? and why did they take it out in the first place??) and bent the pins, then neglected to fix that before it was sent back to me. I emailed you about this but got no response.

    I was then out of town for a 5 days, and when I returned I called AppleCare again, added that Airport card/slot issue to the new dispatch (though honestly I'm not certain the point really got across to the agent I spoke with) and sent the computer back in and it was received on 7/6/05. I have been checking the online status regularly and today 1 week after the computer was received I decided to call as the dispatch is still listed as "In Repair". I have found that the repair is again on hold waiting for a part that is not expected to arrive until 7/22/05. And incidentally I have not heard another word about the missing Airport Card nor have I had one "drop shipped" to me as promised. So if the point did not get across about the Airport slot as I suspect, I have this sinking feeling I'm going to receive the computer (eventually) with the buzz fixed (hopefully) but the Airport slot still broken and the card still missing.

    Why does this computer have to be "mine"? I identified a problem with it from the moment I got it which is still not resolved, and your own repair center created an entirely new problem with the Airport card and slot. I feel at this point, 2 months and $1500 later, that I should have another computer sent to me and let you guys deal with THIS computer. Fix it, however long it takes, and sell it again as a refurb to someone who has not yet shelled out the money for it!

    Please, I have been very patient about this but am getting very frustrated and feel I am being treated very unfairly. I have used nothing but Macs for the past 20 years (this Powerbook is actually my 20th Mac purchase). I have 6 Macs currently in use in my house (each kid has their own fruity gumdrop iMac), 3 iPods, and my (still functioning) Mac-512K from 1986 on display sitting atop my bookshelf. I drink the Kool-Aid heavily. I have evangelized the platform and converted plenty of people over the years, and am the default troubleshooting/question person for at least a dozen Mac switcher friends and family. This is the first time I've had to deal with an issue like this with any of my Macs, and I am sorely disappointed with the service and support I have received. All I can say is I'm glad it's me and not one of my recent converts, because a "switcher" would be badmouthing you all over town about this.

    Keith Bly​
  2. ITASOR macrumors 601


    Mar 20, 2005
    I've always seen his e-mail as (Removing "REMOVE" of course).

    There Steve, I saved you from the spam bots. Where's my free computer? :rolleyes:
  3. cooknwitha macrumors 6502a


    May 5, 2005
    Nice work. And are you going to tell up what the upgrades are? ;) And I think you deserve them whatever they are because by the sounds of it, you were more than patient!
  4. ITASOR macrumors 601


    Mar 20, 2005
    Yeah, I totally agree. That e-mail was very nice and really persuasive. I think it always helps to kind of make it sound like you are putting the tech in your shoes. It makes them think, "What if this was me."

    Thanks for posting it though, some of us can use some of your great techniques if needed in the future!

    Have fun with the new Powerbook!
  5. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Apple support is a mix just like any other large company. I had major issues with .Mac after upgrading to 10.4.1, and received no helpful replies from .Mac customer service. The .Mac CSR and I went back and forth, and I would email her the information she asked... then she would reply with a basic knowledge base link with no other helpful information. I bet she told me to register and unregister my computer from the .Mac system preference pane 15 times. I finally got frustrated and forwarded all the .Mac CSR's emails along with my replies to

    I don't know if it was just a coincidence, but the very next day I had three .Mac technicians registering and unregistering "test" computers on my .Mac account. You could tell because it list their .Mac user names with the computer that was registered. After about four hours, a .Mac technician emailed me back and said that the issue was resolved. I have since had no other problems with my account. Next time, I won't hesitate to email, if AppleCare or .Mac support is useless.

    I'm sure Steve doesn't actually read the emails to, but I believe he has a team of people that cipher through his email and help whomever they can.
  6. blybug thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2003
    Galveston, TX
    The original problematic Powerbook was a 12"/1.5GHz/512MB RAM/80GB HD/SuperDrive from the refurb store, for $1499.

    The replacement will be upped to 1.25GB RAM (!!) and a 100GB HD. He asked if I "prefer" the 12" over the 15" screen which I took to mean I could have gotten the 15", but in fact I wanted the 12" as it will mostly be used by my wife who likes the small size (she is a pro photographer and carries the computer to most of her shoots). The replacement unit will also be new, not a refurb. I priced this out on the Apple Store and it comes in around $2200.

    I wasn't looking to get any free upgrades, just a replacement for exactly what I had purchased. The rep offered up these enhancements so of course I accepted! :D
  7. iGary Guest


    May 26, 2004
    Randy's House
    Calm, firm and patient usually works with most companies, Apple included.

    I can't say the same for Bank of America recently, but I'd have to get a bottle of whiskey before I try to explain how pissed I am at them.

    I always ask the tech on the phone "Now, I'm not trying to be cute here, but that isn't what you'd want to hear if you were me, is it?" if things are going bad. They can almost never say "yeah, I'd like it."

    It usually works a charm and gets them to work a bit harder for you. We had a problem with one of our PM G5's here at work yesterday and after 5 minutes of listening to our art person yell at this guy I pulled the phone out of her hands and had it sorted in about 10 minutes.

    Just nicely say "can I talk to someone else, please?" At the end of the day, these people have crappy jobs and really don't give a hoot, but they'll work for someone that respects them (or at least pretends to).
  8. asif786 macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2004
    London, UK.
    this is a great example of how to get problems fixed. by being polite and quoting reference numbers, you've helped your case to no end.

    i've had problems in the past, and i find the best thing to do it cool off for a few hours and then write an email. being rude won't solve anything.

    glad you got your whole issue sorted.


    oh, and p.s. the emailing to does in fact work sometimes. i've shared my stories of this before.. :)
  9. GodBless macrumors 65816


    Jan 22, 2005
    Wow. I had a faulty iBook in the beginning and Apple never favored me even though I was diplomatic and determined. I am still stuck with a computer that has had endless problems.

    It looks like email is the best way of communication to Apple. I remember one of the guys I talked on the phone at Apple relayed what I was talking about to someone else but must have not gotten across exactly what was going on with my computer problem. In an email all they have to do is forward my message. There's no way to misinterpret that. If I have a computer problem in the future I'll see if email works for me.
  10. blybug thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2003
    Galveston, TX
    New PB Received

    Received the brand new Powerbook as promised, 2 days after the email and return phone call from Apple Customer Relations. Perfect, and upgraded as promised to 1.25 GB RAM and 100GB HD. Very Happy!! :D :D

    Interestingly, I also happened to have a 3G iPod in for warranty battery replacement (I bought the extended AppleCare coverage) at the same time...that repair dispatch on the iPod went from "Unit Received" to "Replacement Ordered" and "Unit Shipped" on the same day as my Powerbook email. I'm thinking this means I'm actually getting a *new* iPod when all I sent it in for was battery replacement. We'll see when it arrives...wonder if this upgrade is related to my Powerbook situation, or maybe there was simply more wrong with this iPod than I thought?
  11. Koodauw macrumors 68040


    Nov 17, 2003
    Whats with the "I drink the Kool-Aid heavily." line? Does that mean you buy alot of Apple computers?

    Glad to see it got resolved.
  12. blybug thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2003
    Galveston, TX
    Well, it's an inside reference that probably many Mac freaks understand but I guess possibly may not have made too much sense to the customer service rep either!

    It's a shorthand term referring to the masses of Mac zealots who presumably blindly follow Steve Jobs and the Apple philosophy and products in an almost cult-like fashion...obviously the reference grew from the very real and unfortunate "Jonestown massacre" in Guyana in 1978 where over 900 people died after drinking a cyanide-laced red beverage at the direction of their charismatic cult leader Jim Jones. Another term you may see around in this context is "RDF" which refers to Steve Jobs' "Reality Distortion Field". :rolleyes:

    I'm not *really* that obsessed or blindly loyal to Jobs & Apple (well almost), but for the purposes of this situation I felt mentioning my Kool-Aid consumption was relevant. :p
  13. blybug thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Aug 11, 2003
    Galveston, TX
    Update -- Call from Steve Jobs' Office!!

    I did get a new (3rd Gen) iPod, rather than just a battery replacement. One of the new color ones would have been nice :p but still this was unexpected.

    Today I got a call from an agent at the Apple Executive Office, on behalf of Steve Jobs to make sure everything had worked out OK. So Steve did get the email and had his people follow up on it! By the timeline it seems Jobs was made aware of the email after customer relations had already handled it and ordered the replacement PowerBook, so he didn't have a personal hand in resolving my case.

    Wonder what would have happened if customer relations hadn't fixed everything up by now and I was still a frustrated customer? Maybe Steve would have personally delivered a tricked-out 17" Powerbook G5 to me?? ;)

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