apple blues

The hard drive on my 15″ Aluminum Powerbook G4 is clearly defective and has been for some time. It likes to hang and say “disk0s3: I/O error” into the logs at times when certain files are touched. The Disk Utility thinks the drive is fine and so does the “SMART” status. Maybe a cable is loose in there. The voice of authority in the form of dr_strych9, who knows, told me to get it replaced but I didn’t.

Now of course it’s worse. An unknown number of my music files now make this thing happen, and the new iTunes insists on doing a “gapless music analysis” on each file on startup each time that can’t be disabled and keeps hitting the problem. I remove a file and it “finds” another. Plus, the update prebindings thing that installers like to do sets it off. My computer is becoming less and less usable.

I realized that I haven’t fixed this mainly because I hate dealing with AppleCare and the Apple Store. The last couple of times I went to the Genius Bar, the Genius gave me the third degree. Well sir we might have a K key to replace this broken one, we have some in the back, but if we don’t you’ll have to pay for a new keyboard. Yes I know you have AppleCare but the wear & tear, sir. Pointing to the spots where the sweat from my wrists had pitted the aluminum and talking about “moisture corrosion damage issues,” looking for anything that meant I had been using the thing to hammer nails, etc.

They’ve clearly been told to be hardasses and refuse AppleCare to anyone they can, especially laptop owners. I understand that they’re plagued with people who pour a Coke on their computers and try to get a new one, but being treated like a criminal isn’t fun. Considering the expense of the computer and the AppleCare plan itself, I’m aggrieved to find myself having used car lot conversations with a supercilious geek every time I need help.

Plus, of course, I put in my own memory which invalidates everything because Apple wants to insist on selling RAM at a huge markup over retail.

It’s hard not to see the whole thing as a scam, and it makes me angry, and I don’t like being angry. It’s particularly humiliating to have to defend my computer maintenance skills in public to someone who’s just going to win if he wants to and has poor enough social skills that he’s going to push all my buttons.

So I guess I’ll just buy a new hard drive with cash and try to transfer the data over somehow. I’m not sure I’d buy a new Apple now, though, and I’m certainly not very jazzed about AppleCare. It has been useful before when undeniable problems happened early in hardware ownership, but I don’t any longer think it’s better than another computer vendor’s warranty.

I needed native x86 and Windows for radio stuff so I ordered a cheap-ass low-end Dell this week. I paid for the accidental destruction coverage on it. Maybe Apple should offer that separately from the service at a higher rate, instead of making us fight with their employees about whether we’re good stewards every time something goes wrong.

I freely admit that my own problems with conflict and my button pushes are at least as much the problem as Apple’s policies, but I’m also tired of bait and switch, and tired of Apple’s denial about actual design flaws like the AC Adapter. They do so much so well, and then the Reality Distortion Field intervenes and says “We’re perfect, and you, the customers, are imagining your problems.”

17 thoughts on “apple blues

  1. My SuperDrive on my 17″ PowerBook failed about three months ago, and I finally got into an Apple Store to have a “Genius” look at it, after talking with AppleCare over the phone. They claimed that I couldn’t get anything done under warranty because the bezel on the front is slightly cracked, and so I must have physically abused the computer for the SuperDrive to not work. Never mind the bezel’s been like that for almost two years.
    It’s a shame I like OSX so much, but OSX isn’t available on any other hardware.

  2. I understand your complaints about Applecare; I don’t buy it myself, but then, we don’t have a store here either so I’d have to mail the thing off which I tend to prefer not to do.
    Disks are crappy in general, though, and go bad a lot. I wouldn’t specifically hold too much of an Apple grudge about a bad disk. It’s gotten to where I replace disks in important machines when they start nearing their MTBF rating whether they’re showing signs of hoarkedness or not. :/
    I hate disks.

    1. Oh, the knock on Apple isn’t because the disk died. It’s just an IDE hard drive like all the others. I’m mad at them because of the ridiculous dance I’d have to go through to get it replaced, because they promise so much with AppleCare and then train their employees to humiliate you out of it.
      The drive is a Seagate or a Toshiba and drives, like you say, fail.

  3. eep, this got kind of lengthy
    They do so much so well, and then the Reality Distortion Field intervenes…
    Man, that sounds so much like the allergist I was describing from the other day. I had some complaints about the office staff not telling me that they weren’t familiar with patient assistance programs. I could have had the meds I needed a long time ago if I’d known. Instead, when I explained that the pharmaceutical company contacted me the first time the application was sent in because they didn’t have a script with it he replied, “They said they didn’t get the script…” I wasn’t trying to place blame in that case, just to state the situation. He acted like they could do no wrong, so I had to describe several other examples such as sending in paperwork that said SAMPLE ONLY on it even though I clearly stated in a letter that they would need to call the company to get the correct documents because they hadn’t been available online. I don’t think they even bothered to read the letter. GAH.

  4. I swear at my computers all the damned time, man. I hate them all. You should see the blow-by-blow on what I did with my iBook G3.
    The last time I had a computer that I didn’t totally despise, it was a Data General Nova 1200 my dad restored by hand after he pulled it out of the trash where he worked. I probably would have learned to despise it, if I hadn’t gotten an Apple ][ a couple weeks later.
    I wish my coworkers hadn’t made you feel bad about using AppleCare. I can’t do much about them. I just make code.

  5. The few times I’ve had to use AppleCare in the past haven’t been bad at all. It might depend on the store you go to or the particular “Genius” you get. Both times were related to the 17″ G4 PowerBook. Once was trivial and fixed right there in the store (a clippy thing on the underside of the spacebar broke, so they put in a new spacebar.) The other was a faulty backlight and involved sending the laptop out for repair and waiting. And waiting. Their repair facility was out of a particular part and once the waiting got to be long enough, they gave be a brand new laptop (1.6 GHz, compared to the 1.0 GHz I brought in.)
    On the whole, the experience has been not super-outstanding-great, but as good as I would expect. The geniuses have been helpful, and I think happy to work on something that is not yet another “my iPod stopped working” issue.

  6. I deal with the “you’re guilty until you prove you’re not” attitude when I try to return things at Best Buy. Ha.
    They might as well just say “So, when did you STEAL THIS?” when you try to use their customer service. SO rude. I dislike that attitude in electronic dealings, but it seems to be the norm.

  7. I have a Dell laptop with the “idiot protection”. I managed to break my H key after my keyboard suddenly decided to start acting weird (I pried it up and a piece went flying, so I couldn’t put it back). They replaced my entire keyboard without cost, aggravation, or backtalk. As far as I’m concerned, the coverage paid for itself.

  8. My experience dealing with Apple customer service was pretty nightmarish not because they were assholes but because I happened to purchase a model of PowerBook that quickly became notorious for failing in many and spectacular ways. It got so I couldn’t talk to customer service for any length of time without crying, my frustration was so severe. The people I talked to were all really nice, and I felt bad about making them feel bad, but I couldn’t help myself! Eventually they gave me an all-new and more expensive PowerBook in exchange for me promising not to sue them. I don’t know how much the sobbing helped, but you could try it on the guys at the Genius Bar.

    1. The last time I tried sobbing at a Genius Bar (because I had come all the way out to the store which is a long way for me with a heavy computer on mass transit, and this mall is not disability friendly, and they told me i would have to wait 5 hours and i didn’t have 5 hours, and i asked if i could leave the laptop overnight and come back in the morning and they said no), they threatened to call mall security and have me forcibly ejected.

      1. Wow. That sounds like it would be worth a letter to Apple. I mean, in lieu of the act of domestic terrorism that leaps to mind as a first possible response.

      2. Wow. That sounds like it would be worth a letter to Apple. I mean, in lieu of the act of domestic terrorism that leaps to mind as a first possible response.

  9. DEAR GOD those adapters are total pieces of shit. (This is not really my point, it just needs to be repeated as often as possible.)
    Anyway, when I was picking up my computer from the Mac Store (not an actual Apple store, but similar in its previous attempts at warranty-gouging) after they’d replaced my broken CD/DVD drive, the guy gave me a lecture about how they’d found sand inside my computer, so I shouldn’t take it to the beach and should get a case for it in case I go anywhere where there might be sand. I explained that I have never once taken my computer to the beach, that I rarely even take it out of my house (which is not near the beach), and that when I do, I always use the laptop case I’ve had since I first bought the computer. Nonetheless, the comments on the receipt still say something about “advised customer to get laptop case.”
    So now I need to replace my F11 key, but I’m afraid they’ll use all their documentation that I’ve been pouring sand into my laptop for some reason in order to keep from covering it under the warranty. Bleh.

  10. Our iBook’s disk started dying (was under AppleCare, but I let it lapse). I ended up paying for having the data transferred to a new hard drive if possible (it all came back, including the OS !) here. My guess is that actually running the OS stressed the disk too much but when it was just asked to read data, it was OK. Try pulling the data off onto another disk using FireWire target disk mode in the meantime.

  11. I’ve now had two drives go soles-up on my G4 laptop. It’s depressing. They’re heavy but it turns out they’re not robust.
    I can’t afford this. I may have to quit buying Apple stuff – particularly anything portable – if the quality control continues to be poor. Nice design is great only if the product fucking works. Otherwise it’s a beautiful white toilet seat.
    I won’t deal with the Genius Bar. I can’t. Even if they were nice, I couldn’t deal with a customer service organization that has ON A BIG SIGN that floats over their heads the implication that they’re organically vastly more intelligent than I am. It’s a license to condescend and give you the old warranty fuckaround. So I go to an ‘authorized’ apple dealer/fixer down the road. I think they’re actually slightly more expensive, but at least I can talk directly to their repair guy (“Omar”) and get answers that aren’t defensive.

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