The last straw.

in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
I would like to make you aware of an ongoing problem I have had with Apple Computer.

Let me first say that I am not a troll. I am a huge fan of Apple and have never owned another brand of computer, starting with my Apple IIe in 1983, and many years of experience working exclusively on the Mac OS computers that have followed. In fact, I have taken a lot of grief for my use of Apple products, and probably even limited my own job opportunities by being so devoted to the platform. I have been a stalwart and steadfast customer of Apple for over 18 years, am proud of my Apple Computer purchases, and have recommended and assisted in the sales of many Mac OS systems over time.

In short, I purchased a Titanium PowerBook in August of 2001. Talk about a bad omen, that computer was defective out of the box with a failed power manager. It was replaced by Apple within a week of purchase, and then functioned flawlessly for nearly nine months before the wheels fell off that proverbial wagon.

Since then, I have had the computer REPLACED two times (including one more PowerBook that was defective out of the box) and it has been returned to Apple at least a dozen times for a variety of problems, including failing hard drives, combo drives, logic boards, RAM SIMMS, AirPort issues, and the list goes on...

Despite these negative experiences with my PowerBook over the past several months, I still champion Apple products.

That is, I did... until today.

On Friday, I sent my computer to Apple for service on what was diagnosed (for the second time) as a bad RAM issue. The last time this happened, Apple replaced the memory and the logic board, and according to the enclosed invoice, had done so again. However, this time when I received the computer back from service, it did not function. It was as if I had never returned it to Apple, and someone had emailed me a bogus invoice. Now, the computer does nothing. When I push the power button, it seems to give a mechanical gasp - and then immediately shuts down. Was it my imagination, or did I just smell smoke? To say I am frustrated is the understatement of the century.

More so, the techs at Apple seem to be content to swap out parts rather than look for underlying causes of the problems I have experienced. Sorry, but that no longer works for me. Tell me why the component in question failed and why the same thing will not happen again, or send me a new computer. I run two businesses, I have a one year old son, and I don't have time to deal with this constant inconvenience. The bottom line is I want (and deserve) a computer that WORKS. And, for the first time in my life, I am beginning to believe that computer may be something other than an Apple product. In fact, if I had the cash, I would have already purchased something else.

I have sent letters, made phone calls, elicited the help of other friends, colleagues and Apple customers - even recruited a nationally syndicated consumer radio program ("The Clark Howard Show") for assistance. And, I have posted details on these problems on no fewer than three dozen websites, resulting in tens of thousands of people becoming aware of my plight. At the same time, I have also been made aware of hundreds of people across the country with similar issues and bad experiences with defective Apple products. It seems Apple is more content to deny problems exist, blame consumers, and alienate customers rather than deal with these types of problems in a straightforward manner.

Does Apple have quality control problems? In my opinion, yes. But more important than the hardware issues, which can ultimately be repaired or replaced, my customer service experience with Apple has been substandard. In fact, this whole TiBook cluster-foxtrot is cumulatively the worst consumer purchase/service experience I have received in my entire life. I'm sorry, but if you spend $3000 plus on a professional portable computer, you should be able to use it for many, many years without issue.

As I said before, I personally love the Mac OS. I am not going to say "don't buy Apple," however, as things stand, the hardware and service leave MUCH to be desired. I certainly wouldn't spend any more of my money with them until my faith in the product is restored (and it's going to take a lot) and I certainly wouldn't recommend their products to friends, family or colleagues. Nearly two decades of goodwill down the toilet, I guess that's life in the big city.

In an era where Linux is poised to surpass the market share of Apple, the fine folks at Cupertino need to decide if they want to become more than a proprietary (fringe) OS / hardware combo, or if they ever want to be something truly outstanding - with significant market share. In case they are listening, that means providing quality control and customer service worth telling others about. That means fixing problems like those I have experienced THE FIRST TIME, rather than waiting until I am standing on a street corner, banging pots and pans together and going out of my way to share my bad experiences with anyone that will listen.

Like I just did.


  • Reply 1 of 20
    alcimedesalcimedes Posts: 5,486member
    do you have your computer plugged in through a UPS at all? i'm wondering if you have fluctuating power going into it. (although i'd think the transformer should take care of that for you).

    just sounds like a LOT of problems for various machines, all of which sound somewhat electricity related.

    if you'd had bad LCD's, stuff physically breaking etc. that would be something different. in this case though all of those problems could be caused by bad juice going into the machine.

    do you have any problems with other sensative electronics in your house? when they replaced the machines, did you also get a new transformer/charger deal to go with it, or are you using the original one?
  • Reply 2 of 20
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    Sounds like what Fran went through. He got his constantly-dying Pismo replaced with a brand new PowerBook a short while before his AppleCare warranty ran out.
  • Reply 3 of 20
    netromacnetromac Posts: 863member
    Sorry to hear about your problems there Jeff.

    My only hardware related problem with macs go back to when I had my Performa 5200 CD. There was some sort of problem with the MB that had to be replaced before installing system 8. Never saw sight of any problem with system 7.5 on the machine though. I still use it by the way to hold telephone numbers and adresses by the phone in the kitchen.

    Guess I've been lucky
  • Reply 4 of 20
    Having worked as a Dell Portable Technician, I can tell you that all computer manufacturers have a very small percentage of users who have a very high number of repairs even after complete computer replacements. No one knows why or how this happens; it probably can only be attributed to bad luck. No one is "out to get you" or trying to give you a hard time or defective products and I don't think there is much that can really be done about it. Complaining to support reps won't fix the problem because they just can't do anything about it--you would have to get to someone at higher-up in the food chain which probably wouldn't bee too easy. Though complaining to support reps could get you a brand-new laptop, though (I think someone on this board had similar problems and eventually got a TiBook after much complaining, though I can't remember his name ATM).

    Its possible that going to another manufacturer might end your troubles, but thats very uncertain since PC laptops are manufactured at much lower standards than Apple laptops and a good percentage are DOA or experience problems within the first week or two and require repairs.

    Maybe someone else on this board can remember the name of the person that I mentioned above (maybe it was Fran441...I just can't remember) and perhaps you can get some tips from him on dealing with Apple.

    Sorry that this isn't very comforting to hear...
  • Reply 5 of 20

    Originally posted by alcimedes

    do you have your computer plugged in through a UPS at all? i'm wondering if you have fluctuating power going into it. (although i'd think the transformer should take care of that for you).



    do you have any problems with other sensative electronics in your house? when they replaced the machines, did you also get a new transformer/charger deal to go with it, or are you using the original one?


    And keep in mind that three instances have been "out of the box" types of problems.

    Diagnosed defective power manager hardware

    Ground fault on speakers, manufacturing problem

    and yesterday, I opened the powerbook and pressed the power button. Didn't plug it in, barely even set the thing down on the counter.

    I can't explain the problems, and I guess Apple can't either. I'm hoping for a refund.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    lucaluca Posts: 3,833member
    Yeah that was Fran441.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    mrmistermrmister Posts: 1,095member
    man, I keep seeing Jeff's problems on every forum. he's thorough.
  • Reply 8 of 20

    Originally posted by mrmister

    man, I keep seeing Jeff's problems on every forum. he's thorough.

    OR maybe he just doesn't know how to handle his problems.

    Take 4 hours out of your day, call, get to a supervisor, get to his supervisior, then explain story from day one, explain NOT laying blame but outlining the facts. Then tell him what it will take to fix the situation. Betcha a can of soup that he'll say, no prob and (ZOINK!) you'll have a fresh one sent out to you, and a box dispatched to pick up the deadbeat.

    3-4 hours tops, get you paperwork together and finish the problem. No need to raise all bloody hell. Machines break, fact of life! If you don't have AppleCare, tought, if you do, congrats. In any case, why not tell us what Apple is doing about your current problem so we can judge for ourselves if you have been mishandled. It seems that you are hard to please. If it has taken all these millions of contacts (and basically bitch listing Apple) and you still don't have results I would think you would catch on to the fact that your strategy isn't working.

    Apple is a professional company who attempts to handle each customer complaint as best they can. If you have not reached high enough in their command structure reach further. If you have not gotten the results you want it is perhaps that you haven't made them clear.

    I could tell you a funny story called 'the time I bought an iBook' which is every bit as bad as your story. However a simple phone call to a supervisior and a faxed copy of a few documents got me a brand new (and upgraded) machine and a box to send my lemon back in.

    If at first you don't succeed, try then find a new way of trying.
  • Reply 9 of 20

    Originally posted by Jeff Williams

    More so, the techs at Apple seem to be content to swap out parts rather than look for underlying causes of the problems I have experienced. Sorry, but that no longer works for me.[/B]

    You know, surface-mount components are really tiny. You need really tiny hands to work on them. Standard procedure for most electronic repair is replace entire modules (or units) to get the repaired unit back to the customer, and then engineers (like me) use their tiny hands to dissect damaged parts. And most of the time, we come up with NTF-- no trouble found. I'm sure there was a problem, but beats me what that was. It was probably due to the phase of the moon.

    My advice to you: don't buy Apple products.

    Personally, I don't believe Apple's quality is significantly better or worse than other manufacturers. Between my family and me, we've owned 10 Apple computers. I've installed, upgraded, changed, updated, prodded, dropped and banged on all of them, and I've never had an electrical problem with any of them, outside of crappy Nimh laptop batteries. I still have extra pieces from my last iBook hard drive upgrade, and it still runs like a champ.

    Sorry to hear about your bad luck.
  • Reply 10 of 20
    dviantdviant Posts: 483member
    For the most part I've never had any problems with any of the Macs I've worked on (ranging from IIFX to dual 800) or owned, with the exception of my last purchase... a Ti 550. I've had multiple problems with combo drives in this thing. I think the quality control on these drives must be horrid, as I'm on combo drive #4. I never had any problems at all with my Pismo.

    It seems that I've finally gotten a good drive this last time, but man was all the bs annoying... time spent on phone, time without comptuer, time to pick it up from Airborne etc. Of course I really haven't used this one all that much since it's been replaced, I picked up AppleCare just in cast, right before my 1 year ran out.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    mcqmcq Posts: 1,543member
    Sorry to hear about your situation Jeff. Unfortunately, I don't know that Apple has any particular QC problem, as someone said their repair rates are probably in-line with other manufacturers, and I think magazine surveys tend to show this. Also, for every story like Fran441 or yours, we have stories about AppleCare like the following post just over at MacNN forums:

    You probably just have received an unusually large number of bad Powerbooks. I hope your situation gets fixed soon. In the meantime, what were you attempting to accomplish with this thread? Just venting a little (perfectly understandable)?
  • Reply 12 of 20
    aquafireaquafire Posts: 2,758member
    really sorry about the porblems.

    I've been A macophile since wayback in the early 80's.I have owned two dozen or more macs in my time, & I have noted that as the years have rolled by that Mac seems to be paying for some pretty shoddy workmanship.

    I run two Imacs (350 & 600 ) @ so far are Ok .Built tough if you will.

    Still, I keep hold of my old faithfuls, especially my 68K 475's. They're amazingly reliable. I keep expecting them to crash & burn, but they just keep humming along.

    The other thing is I just pity anyone who buys a product thatwas made either on a monday morning or a frday evening.

    Us humans can get pretty tetchy @ those times.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    taztaz Posts: 74member
    Man, sorry to hear of your troubles. I had a similar thing happen to my TiBk when I went out of town for a few weeks. I left the thing asleep at home. When I came home it would not turn on. Just made noises like it was going to turn on and then went off again. Turns out that my battery had comletely drained, so there wasnt enough juice left to boot up. Plugged it in and away it went. Before you go crazy try plugging it in to see if boots from power or let it charge for a while. If it still freaks take some time and go up the food chain with the CSR's till you find someone with enough juice to fix your problems. Be professional instead of conforntational. In all likelyhood the guy youre speaking to hasnt even seen your computer, much less had an opportunity to mess it up for you. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Unfortunately it WILL take time. We no longer live in a time of customer service. This is a SAD fact of todays economy where stock holders and commitees own and run companies rather than actual leaders. To Apple and most other companies out there Wallstreet is where its at and the customer aint.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    algolalgol Posts: 833member
    These are all the hardware problems I have had with apple for many years:

    HardDrive crashed once on a Performa 6400/200.

    Logic board fried on first PowerBook G3.

    DVD slot loader broke twice on PowerBook G4 400.

    DVD slot loader broke once on PowerMac G4 cube.

    All of these problems were fixed within a week, except the Powerbook DVD drive which I had to send in a second time. Apple opologized many times for not fixing the problem right the first time.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    perhaps off-topic, perhaps not...

    I had a friend who bought an ibook about three years ago. It was a Graphite SE, clamshell. He was convinced it was defective, saying it would crash frequently, go buggy, and that the hard drive made alot of noise. So, over the course of two years he fought with Apple to get it replaced, or get a refund. He'd call Apple, Apple would send him a box to ship it to them in to take a look at it, they'd say it was fine and ship it back to him. He would get it back, it would do the same things, he'd call again, they'd send another box, and end up sending it back again. Still nothing they could find wrong with it. After about three months, they wouldn't send him a box anymore, insisting that there was nothing they could find wrong with the iBook. So my friend asked for a refund, which, of course, they scoffed at. So my friend was very upset and launched a campaign against Apple. He would send angry letters to Apple executives, bad mouth apple to anyone and everyone who would listen, and even went so far as to send a particularly nasty and offensive email to Steve Jobs himself.

    He was convinced that Apple was out to get him, and that something wasn't right. He even told me about a "secret recall" and a class action lawsuit he had found on the internet, insisting that there was some grand conspiracy on the part of Apple to screw people over. So I took a look at the page he was talking about, it was the power adapter recall from a year ago, the one Apple had sent me a letter about, and hardly what I would call secret or sinister, but he was convinced it was a sign of something more.

    After two years of trying to get Apple to replace his iBook, Apple wouldn't budge. So he took it back to where he bought it, Circuit City. Circuit City was more "helpful," they offered to have their technicians look at it, free of charge, and if they found anything askew, they would give him a refund. Sure enough, Circuit City found nothing wrong. My friend became incensed, and launched a campaign against our local Circuit City, and, amazingly enough, he went so far as to actually picket in front of the store. Naturally, Circuit City caved immediately, offering him a Circuit City gift certificate in the amount he originally paid for the iBook, like $1999 or something. This was not good enough for my friend, he wanted cash. Circuit City insisted that they never promised him cash, only a "refund," which they only give in store-credit. Eventually, my friend ceded, and decided that this was acceptable, but he would, naturally, have to give them the "defective" iBook.

    I was so curious about this iBook, which had caused him so much strife, that I asked him if I could take a look at it before he took it in for the trade. It looked pretty much like a typical iBook, it was just like my boyfriend's, except the rubber looked a little more worn, and there was a nasty mark on the screen, and it seemed to run okay, and the hard drive was certainly loud, but no more than my boyfriend's. But, and this amazes me, he was still running OS 9 (okay, no big deal), with 64MB of physical RAM. Yes, 64MB. He was trying to run AOL, Photoshop, Flash, Director, Illustrator, etc, all at the same time, on 64MB of RAM with the help of virtual memory. And all of a sudden, I'm like, well no ****ing shit it's slow, it crashes, and the hard drive makes alot of noise. So, just to try it out, I dropped in a spare 256MB chip I had laying around from the last time I upgraded the RAM in my trusty pismo, and booted the machine off an external firewire hard drive I had just installed Jaguar on.

    It ran identically to my boyfriend's iBook, no problems I could see, and my friend was extremely impressed (and disappointed). And I asked him why it was he hadn't thought to upgrade the memory. And he told me that when he bought it, he asked the Circuit City salesman for the "best mac laptop" they had. I could just barely contain my laughter.

    And no, this is not the end of the story.

    He still insisted on taking it back to Circuit City, which seemed fine, since at the time $1999 was a hell of a lot more than the machine was worth anyway, even if he did have to buy a PC laptop, since Circuit City no longer carried macs. So he takes it in, trades it, picks up a Sony Vaio something, gets him home, sets it up and freaks out. He calls me to tell me his new Vaio is defective, and I'm like wtf.

    So I look at it, he says the hard drive "sounds like its broken." I look it over, it's obviously fine, and I tell him "the hard drive is loud, yes, but this is not a defect. Inconvenient and unfortunate, but not defective." He wasn't satisfied, after I left, he called Circuit City. They took back the Vaio, and he walked out with cash, right over to Best Buy to pick up the same Vaio he had bought at Circuit City, only $400 cheaper. He gets it home and doesn't take it out of the box for a week.

    What's the moral of the story?

    No, I'm not saying jeff is like my friend, his 'book obviously has some real issues. Just take it as a cautionary tale about approach and tact in difficult situations. Some kind words and a cool head have gotten me alot more from Apple on the rare occassions I've had to get something fixed (I consider thrice in twleve years of ownership pretty rare), than my friend ever did firing off angry letters to Apple executives.

    The Inevitable knows how it works; keep it cool, keep it calm, keep it kind, you'll get to the top, you'll get a new book.

  • Reply 16 of 20
    fred_ljfred_lj Posts: 607member
    You've said exactly the right thing -- keep it cool. And realize it's a LAPTOP; they're by default prone to problems. Take a look under the keyboard of your Ti every once and a while and marvel at the technology that is the PowerBook G4. And be happy Apple figured out enough to keep the darn thing from melting through itself.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    Tact? please, you can't afford to be anything but ruthless. Use you righteous anger. Write about it here. hehe
  • Reply 18 of 20
    jante99jante99 Posts: 539member
    Jeff, I do not mean to be rude but I think you are out looking for a fight and trying to find it with Apple.

    When I got an original G4 Powerbook I initially kept it in a sleeve in my backpack. So it obviously got shaken and bumped around more than average. A few months into owning it, the screen failed. I of course sent it off to Apple to be fixed. The screen was replaced under warrenty since I guess it had some problems.

    A few months later the screen and DVD drive failed. Apple once again replaced both components. Then a few months after that the same thing happened.

    Since it was the third repair Apple decided to replace the machine and give me a 550 mzh Powerbook. When I got the new PB I also got a new external case for it. I have not had a problem sense until the strap on my case broke and the wire connecting the screen the computer broke.

    What I am trying to say is that you may be doing nothing wrong, but how you are using the machine my predispose it for a higher rate of failure. Like michael's story, you may not be at fault but you may be partially contributing to the problem. Or you might be really, really, unlucky.

  • Reply 19 of 20
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,464member
    I recently had to call Apple. I do this about once every 2-3 years over something, be it work machines or my own personal machines.

    My Powerbook 500 had a power supply go bad because of the cord fraying. I bought another one around Christmas time and the cord had already begun coming apart. They simply exchanged it and I received the package with the new one the next day. I put my old one in the package, and bam was done with it.

    Not bad service in my opinion.

  • Reply 20 of 20
    I guess I'll share my repair experience as well?

    In 1996 I had to have a multiscan 15" crt display replaced, the blue gun died. A quick call to apple, and a newer multiscan 15AV arrived three days later, Apple told me just to chuck the old one. The mac the monitor originally came with, a Performa 6320, chugged along for another five years, before my parents retired it to the garage and bought a new dell.

    In August of 1998 I got my first "personal mac," a powerbook G3 series wallstreet, with the notorious 13.3" display. While I was reading reports about other people's display problems, mine worked just fine, until november, when an accident at school rendered the display innoperable. This was clearly my fault, but they replaced the display and the entire upper housing anyway, which had a few of the signature wallstreet blemishes, where a little wear-and-tear had left some of the bare metal of the rubberized panel exposed.

    Everything worked fine after that, and I eventually sold it and bought a pismo, which has been trouble free for three years, even after a self-installed LCD replacement (i put a nasty scratch in the polarizer), a PowerLogix G4 upgrade, and a larger harddrive.

    In february of this year, as the warranty on my original 5GB iPod was coming close to its end, I had noticed a signifficant dip in battery life, and to boot, the plastic collar around the headphone jack cracked, leaving a loose connection with the wired remote. A quick call to Apple, and two days later I shipped my pod off to Apple, and had a brand-new 5GB back at my doorstep in another two days.

    It's funny, looking over some old paperwork, I spent about $3500 on the mid-range wallstreet, and a little less than $2000 on the pismo, and now my b/f just replaced his iBook with a 17" PBG4, and that cost less than what I paid for my wallstreet!

    At this rate, we'll be scoffing at paying more than $1000 for a PowerBook 970 in two or three years.

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