Friday, September 16, 2005

Return of the iBook

We finally got our iBook back yesterday.

It took TWO WEEKS to fix an ethernet connector. I like my computer, but to be honest, I'm not so thrilled about the Applecare program, and even less enthused about Simply Computing (the local reseller.)

Let's see if I can get this straight - you all know my memory is bad, and the beginning of this was so long ago. Anyway, the problem we had was the little plastic clip on our ethernet connector broke off after a year of use. I don't fault Apple for that, it was a part that did see heavy use with us. So I take the laptop into Simply Computing, so they can repair it.

PROBLEM #1: I am informed that to fix my ethernet connector, the ENTIRE LOGIC BOARD must be replaced. This is just poor design. I don't care what people normally say about Jonathan Ive, his attention to detail obviously does not include care for maintainability. All of the connectors are conveniently placed on the left edge of the laptop - why was this not made into an easily replaceable part, since it would naturally see the most wear and tear? Anyway, I told the reseller I didn't care, since I have Applecare and expect all of that would be covered under warranty. This leads me to...

PROBLEM #2: The reseller informs me that they don't have any iBook logic boards in stock. When I suggest they get one, I am informed that he CAN'T until I call Applecare Customer Support, to get a Customer Support Number, and a Case File Number. Only then can he order the damn part. I suggest taking my computer to a different reseller to do the repair, but am informed that they can get the job done much faster, since the 'other guys' have to ship the computer off to Vancouver to do the repair. What he did NOT tell me was that he would be ordering the part from the US, and that it would have to clear customs before it would get to his store. Since the other guys consolidate all the repairs in one site, I suspect they might have had my part on hand. Especially since if just about anything goes wrong with an iBook, it's an automatic logic board replacement.

PROBLEM #3: So I call Applecare. As it turns out, they had no record of me purchasing Applecare for my computer, so I must first demonstrate that I not only purchased it, but that it was done within the allowable time frame. (I've had my iBook just over a year, hence their concern.) This was bureaucracy at its finest, but we persisted nonetheless. I emerged with my CS number and Case File. Oh yeah - I might add that Applecare operates 9-5 EASTERN standard time, which might be great for those in Montreal, but really sucks for those of us on the West Coast. It is not unreasonable to expect Customer Service to be open at least until 8:00 PM LOCAL standard time. This is a huge failing of Applecare, as it means I either take time off work to resolve anything, or have to get up at some insanely early hour.

Like my links to Applecare so far? Me neither. Love the machine, hate the service. For my wife, it's fast becoming a hate/hate thing though. Way to create a potential reverse switcher, Apple.

Problem #4: I mentioned customs earlier, right? I would think that a reseller that depends on a single source for stock, parts and other supplies would have a customs agent or broker to ensure uninterrupted supply lines. Simply not the case here, I guess. Simply Computing ordered the logic board from Apple on Sept. 2. I know this because as soon as I got the CS number I called them, and he ordered the part while I was on the phone. Good for them, I thought. This is encouraging. It took until Sept. 15 for the part to arrive. That's THIRTEEN days! Part of the blame lies with Simply, for not having a proper customs agent to expedite cross border deliveries, and part of the problem lies with Applecare, and part lies with Purolator (the courier that took their time delivering the goods.) Divide it how you like, so long as all parties are smeared.

Problem #5: I live about an hour's drive away from Simply Computing. They know this, as I have told them several times (usually when re-entering my address into yet another database) and also because it's common sense that if you live in town B instead of town A, you won't be able to arrive at the store before closing if you call half an hour before. The basic problem here is that we found Simply Computing to be Simply Uninformative. I had to chase down the CS number. I had to call Applecare to find out which courier and what tracking number to use, even though Simply Computing already had that information. The day the part arrived, they should have called to say so. At that time I would have been able to tell them when I was able to pick it up, and he could have scheduled accordingly. Who knows, I might not have been able to make the trip for a few days - he would have had extra time. Or, as was the case, I was willing to come in that day to get the computer back. Either way, it boils down to a lack of communication on the part of Simply Computing.

Lessons learned: If there is a next time, I'll take my chances with the local reseller, even though they have to ship my computer off to repair it. I still have to deal with Applecare, but my wife swears that our next computer will run Windows. She was really put off by this whole experience, but even before that, wasn't thrilled that roughly a quarter of the websites she wanted to visit didn't support Macs. If I do buy another Apple product, instead of buying Applecare I would probably put the same amount of cash into a savings account or something. That way, by the time something minor breaks and I have to replace the entire logic board to fix it, I'll have the money to do so, and won't have to go through Applecare.

Apple, if you really want to break into the double digits for market share, I seriously suggest you take a hard look at your customer support. It's got some good things going for it, but it also has some things that clearly need fixing. If I was alone in this, I could be ignored. But judging by the 30 seconds I spent on google, there are many more like me.


Anonymous said...

I on the other hand, have not had any problems with my Toshiba laptop. Hmmm....

iTripped said...

I don't really consider this to be a problem with the laptop. I consider it to be a problem with the vendor. But I am guessing that whomever sold you the Toshiba could fix a trivial problem like a broken connector in better than two weeks.