I took the Powerbook to the Genius Bar at the Newport Beach Apple Store on Sunday. The S key was popping off and clearly broken. This had happened previously to the space bar and they’d just replaced the thing.
My previous experiences there were uneven. There was one hard drive replacement under Applecare that they did beautifully, including additional buff-up repairs I hadn’t requested. The previous keyboard problem was also fixed in seconds. Another time, though, the power supply died on my previous Powerbook quite early in its career with the typical snap-and-short at the laptop end. That time they tried to tell me it was my “abuse” that had caused this, but since this one had been a floor model for a solid year before I got it, that wasn’t going to fly. I had to be really bitchy though. Then, that laptop really lost it; the case flexed and cracked and the hinge popped off so that it wouldn’t hold up the screen. This caused a full operating fight between me and the Genius Bar person because he simply declared that I had broken it and voided AppleCare. I was mad as hell and felt cheated. I did, however, purchase another Powerbook because I wanted both the hardware and the OS. The old one was given to Movie Guy Dan, who made mechanical repairs and continues to use it.
So this time I went in thinking “If they do this right they’re okay, but if they mess with me and try to bully me out of my warranty it will be ugly and I will never buy Apple anything again. I’ll just get a commodity x86 laptop, go back to Linux, and lose all this nice shiny consumer convenience.”
The guy looked at the keyboard and poked around. He told me he’d go in the back and try to find an S key, since they had lots of keycaps they pulled off dead keyboards and stored for this very purpose. “If I can’t find one, though, you’ll have to buy a new keyboard.”
“Oh, I have Applecare.” He looked back at the keyboard now with a more critical eye. He ran his fingers up and down the keys, looked at the bottom of the Powerbook and the outside, and then pointed to the spots to the right and left of the trackpad where my hands rest. “What’s up with this corrosion here?” he said in the tone Colombo might use with a murderer.
“That is due to sweat. From my hands. I sweat with them.” He said “Well I’ll see what I can find here.” I told him that I sincerely hoped he had an S key because otherwise it would be bad. He returned in about ten minutes with one and I was gone.
Dear Apple: Warranty cheats are one of the many reasons everyone hates car dealers. They’re legendary for redefining the warranty to classify failure due to their design errors as abuse. You have already done this with your horribly designed power supply, three of which have died on me at a cost of $80 each. Your currentidea of how to increase revenue and keep customers is to charge $350 for a service plan and then make sure that the service plan is always denied, and in the process insult your customers and force them into public arguments with tech support. This is a bad idea. Hugs, me.