§ Apple

If you’re wondering why Clagnut has been so quiet in 2005, blame AppleCare. As many of you know I write this blog on a 7 month old iBook G4 during 2½ hours of daily commute. On 19 December my iBook broke; more specifically it suddenly kept crashing with horizontal coloured lines across the screen. The Regent Street Apple Store is only three Tube stops away from work so I booked in to see a Genius. And so the saga begins (present tense – the iBook is still broken…)

I explained the symptoms to the Genius and proposed that the graphics card was fried. He agreed and not unreasonably suggested we ran some diagnostics to verify. An hour later, after failing to complete the diagnostics without the iBook randomly crashing, the Genius agreed that is must indeed be the graphics card, thus necessitating a logic board replacement. However the Genius then said that the Apple Store had a sizeable backlog of repairs and I would be better off getting AppleCare to do the work. “Just tell them I said the logic board needs replacing,” he said, as if it would be that simple.

I phoned up AppleCare and recounted the visit to the Apple Store, passing on the repair instruction from the Genius. “I’m afraid we’ve got no record of your Genius Bar consultation so I’ll have to run some diagnostics.” Protest as I might, the AppleCare rep refused point blank to arrange a repair until the diagnostics were run again. And so another hour of failing hardware passed until, lo and behold, the rep conceded the logic board needed changing. The next morning UPS turned up and the iBook was on its way. I thought, at a push, that I might get the computer back by Christmas. After all, the three people I knew who had iBooks repaired in 2004 got their machines back within the week. And so the wait began.

Christmas Eve came and there was no iBook. “Oh well,” I thought, “I should have it by the time I’m back at work in the new year.” A week later I phoned AppleCare for a progress update. All they could tell me was that the machine was with the repairers. The next week, back at work now, I phoned again, only to receive the same response. And again the following week ? they still had no idea when the iBook would be ready.

Finally on 20 January, one month after being picked up, UPS arrived with my computer. Eagerly I unpacked it, plugged it in and booted up. Five minutes in, the screen went black. It had crashed again. Three attempts later and I was on the phone once more to AppleCare. It turns out the repairers had misinterpreted AppleCare’s case notes and replaced the perfectly good LCD instead of the logic board. Needless to say I was somewhat livid. And to add insult to injury, the AppleCare rep insisted on going through the diagnostics yet again as the fault was slightly different (no horizontal lines this time). He even had me removing the extra memory in the hope that might be the problem. 75 minutes later the rep conceded defeat and agreed the logic board did in fact still need replacing but AppleCare wouldn’t be able to fast track my repair even though they screwed up the first one. Instead he suggested I found a local Apple Service Centre as it would be quicker than going through AppleCare again.

The first ASC I phoned was refusing to take on more repairs as they were already overloaded. The next said they had a wait of 4–6 weeks and informed me that AppleCare’s regular repair company had gone into liquidation shortly before Christmas, hence all the delays. Finally I located an ASC which, very apologetically, had a two week turnaround time. That was a week ago, and so the wait continues.

Update: It’s fixed! I finally got my iBook on 11 February, seven weeks after having contacted AppleCare. As a post script, it still came back with broken Airport – fortunately they had just failed to properly plug the aerial back in (still another irritation though). I wrote to Apple in Cupertino a fortnight ago to explain the saga and ask for an explanation. As yet I have not had a reply.