Monday, August 20, 2007

Genius Bar? I don't think so.

"Hi Mr. Emawkc, this is Aaron at the Genius Bar. I was just calling to let you know your computer is ready and you can pick it up any time at the Apple Store."

"I picked it up yesterday."

"Oh?! Well... er... Ooh I see. We had an Internet outage yesterday, so it must have gotten lost in the shuffle. Okay, I guess you're all set."

The call I received this morning was just the latest example of how the Genius Bar at the Apple Store isn't restricted only to genii.

It all started two weeks ago when my iMac shot craps. I was getting ready to sync my iPod before heading out on some errands when Apple HQ sent out a message that I needed to do a security software update. No problem, it's a pretty standard deal. I click the "install" button to do the security patch.

A few seconds later, I get a message that the install is finished and I need to restart my computer. Kind of annoying, since all I wanted to do is sync my iPod, but okay. I restart. I get a message that I need to restart my computer. I restart and get the same message that I need to restart my computer. I do, same message.

Clearly something is wrong. The "geniuses" have bricked my computer. So I call and get an appointment at the so-called genius bar to have this fixed.

When in get there a couple of days later, I explain to the genius on duty that the software update they sent ruined my computer and I would like it fixed if you please. After a few minutes of triage, the young genius tells me that the motherboard on my computer is fried and will need to be replaced.

"That sounds expensive," I say.

"It is," she replies. "It's about a $900 repair and you are no longer covered by your warranty."

Luckily, this genius then does the most genuis-like thing of this whole experience.

"Don't worry, " she said in a bad news/good news voice. "This model qualifies for an extended warranty Apple Quality program. So there won't be a charge to you for the repair."

I told her that would be just fabulous.

Fast forward a few days and I get another call from a genius.

"Well, we replaced the mother board and power source and your computer still doesn't work. The issue is with your hard drive. We can replace it but we weren't able to get any data off your old one."

The genius tells me that a third party data recovery company might be able to save the 3,000 or so family pictures saved on the drive. Of course, it will cost me $250 if they succeed, but I won't have to pay anything if they fail.

Fast forward again, no data is recovered. Apple says they'll need $150 to replace the hard drive, plus they will keep the old drive to send back "to corporate" wherever that is.

So I get to pay $150 for a new drive and I lose my old drive (which has my passwords to all the porn sites I go to). Or I can pay $75 to by a new drive that I install myself, get three times the disc capacity for half the cost and I keep the old damaged drive and my secret plans for taking over the world.

The geniuses at the genius bar had a hard time understanding why I didn't want them to do the work.

But, in the end, I get a new mother board, new power supply and a hard drive upgrade all for a total out-of-pocket expense of $75. Not bad.

The bonus is that when I got everything going again, I found that I had backed up all of my photos onto an external hard drive, so I didn't lose any irreplaceable data.

No thanks to the Apple geniuses.

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  1. Thanks for justifying my boycott of Apple products.

  2. I have also lost two Apple motherboards in the last few years. I think they're made out of copper wire and graham crackers, but my experience with Apple's customer service pretty much maps with yours. In that it was good service, but I bitched about it anyway.

  3. I'm still a big believer in Apple products and, especially, the OS. I've had tons of problems with the PC s I use at work.

    I just can't believe they (Apple) would think I would pay $150 out of my porn surfing fund for a hard drive that only costs about 40 bucks. They're making a tidy profit there.

  4. I use PCs. I've never lost a motherboard or any data.

    Microsoft may be The Borg, but at least my shit wasn't designed and maintained by a bunch of stoned hippies in a garage somewhere.

  5. Haha, "stoned hippies." I love propping up stereotypes. Here's one: An eskimo with a harpoon.

    In the on-deck circle: "fast-talking city slickers" and "those fat cats in Washington." Ohsnap, I've been told.

  6. I'm w/ XO. I've never lost a motherboard, either. I'm a PC fan through and through ever since the Apple IIe crapped out on me in the 6th grade...(at least I think it was an Apple IIe. I always thought it was, but someone told me they don't exist when I told them this story once. I remember it as a IIe, and dammit, its how the story will stay!) I needed to print out a "paper" that I had written for class, and decided to do so 10 minutes before we needed to leave for the bus. Of course, the only thing the Apple would print out was a bunch of jibberish code instead of my paper. And it's not like it was a laptop I could take to class with me to show the teacher that my "paper" did indeed exist. It was an old, original, first home-computer bitch that existed in the early 80's.

    So I started using typewriters after that for everything I wrote. I did that until I was actually required by my teacher during my junior year in college to use the computer to write and print my papers. In 1995.

    Apple can suck my big left toe.

  7. Hey, I admit it. Good industrial design isn't important to everyone. Some people like Apple products, others prefer peecees.

    Just like some people like a nice rare steak over a quarter pounder with cheese. Some of us would rather drink a fine Cab Sauv instead of a diet coke. We'd rather drive a Mercedes instead of a Yugo.

    It's just a matter of personal preference, really. I'm certainly not here to make character judgments.

  8. I currently own 3 Macs and have a hive mind of PC's sitting in my house (I mainly use them for storage now). I have had a motherboard issue in my iMac. But depending on the age of your mac (pre-intel), it was a known issue, and thus the extension of his warranty. Buy the hard drive yourself and let me know if you need help installing it. The genuis bar is just a nice way of saying take a number. The techs are in the back.

    Having said that, I have burned up more motherboards then I care to remember. I tend to push them a bit hard.

    Faith: it was an Apple ][e. I started on the Vic20, and a ][e. Then bought the 8086 when it came out. I went back to Apple when OSX came out. Windows can kiss my big toe. :)

  9. FWIW, I did buy the hard drive myself. It took about 10 minutes to install. I formated it and began the process of replacing all of my data (mostly the aforementioned photos and all of my music files).

    The computer is much quieter now and seems to be running a lot faster.

  10. This post really stressed me out.

  11. It should stress you out. Terrorists, Mac Geniuses, and the Geek Squad agree that Macs are like shiny, pretty ticking time-bombs, waiting to pop and blow up all the money in your bank account. Totally unlike those 100% reliable consumer PC's I've been reading about in Pot Smoking Hippie Monthly, with their invulnerable hard drives and fail-safe components. Don't those cost like a dollar? I need to grab one off the gum rack the next time I'm standing in the check-out lane at Wal-Mart.

  12. A Recent and Enlightening Scene from My Own Experience -

    Me: Thanks for letting me use your iBook.

    Friend: No problems.

    Me: Hmmm... this keyboard is a little uncomfortable.

    Friend: Yeah, it is. That's why I got this great little wireless keyboard. Isn't it cool? This is just another reason why you should get a Mac.

    Me: So Apple designed an uncomfortable keyboard on their laptop, forcing you to go out and spend premium dollars on an optional wireless keyboard, and you still think they're great?

    Friend: Er...

    Me: You do realise that if Microsoft designed a laptop with a keyboard so uncomfortable that you needed buy an optional wireless keyboard, your scorn would be visible from orbit?

    Friend: Yes, but this is an Apple.

    Me: ...

    Friend: ...

    Me: Tell me, when Steve Jobs implanted your loyalty chip, did it hurt much?


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