My Lousy Apple Support Experience.

Joe Batt, 11/1/2006


In June 2006 I was spending a lot of time with a new baby in hospitals. I wanted a new compact laptop with good battery life. I have always run Linux on my main workstations. I wanted a Linux laptop, but my previous experiences with Linux on a laptop were all bad. I decided to just buy a new Intel MacBook 13” white. I had NeXTSTEP administration experience in college.

I have been very pleased with the over all “Mac Experience”.

The Crash:

In early October my hard drive crashed. Things like this are to be expected. I thought I would just call it in to Apple and get it fixed in a jiffy.

The crash was on a Thursday while I was out to lunch. I came back and all the apps were in weird states of hanging and the machine was making a “click whirrr” noise. I powered down. When I turned it back on the display showed a question mark in a folder. How do you search google for an icon?


Friday I called the nearest Apple Store (2 hours away), but the only response they had for me was to make a reservation and bring it in. Either I am a complete idiot or their software did not work well with Firefox on my backup Ubuntu machine. Either way, I was unable to make a reservation.

Saturday I drove the two hours to the Apple store and showed up at the Genius Bar to get the laptop fixed. After standing around like an idiot for 10 minutes, someone told me that to talk to a Genius, I needed a reservation. I told them that I had tried and could not, so they did it for me on a display computer.

After 30 minutes of waiting for my reservation time, (most folks in line in front of me had ipod usage questions) the Genius turned on my machine and agreed that the hard drive was shot. He cheerfully stated “You can come back in 10 days to pick it up!” Eeep. I have sensitive business data that I carry expensive insurance to guarantee it will not leave my hands and he just wants me to leave this machine with him. 10 days! 10 days to fix a failed hard drive!? So I calmly mention that I need my machine to work and he responds that mailing it in will probably be twice as fast. 5 days! 5 days for a hard drive!? So, I calmly pack up and go home.

Sunday I spent 30 minutes on hold with Apple until their system hung up on me. The second call was hung up on much more quickly. The third call did get me through to a live person in about 20 minutes. She seemed very reasonable and understood my building frustration. I was very pleased that I did not also have to fight through a foreign accent. During my long hold time while surfing the Apple wesite I had found that the hard drive is a user serviceable part, so I just wanted her to send me the new part. She had never heard of this and had to research first. Eventually she found all the information and assured me that the drive would be sent soon.

The Fix:

That next week, I did receive the drive. The replacement went very smoothly. I had up to date backups, so I lost nothing but time.

The Return:

There were extensive instructions about returning the broken device and following Apple's instructions otherwise there would be a $326.56 bill for the drive (same drive from TigerDirect is $70). The instructions were to call DHL and schedule a pickup. The number they gave was the wrong number, so I used the web site. DHL did not show, so I dropped the box off at a neighboring business that has daily DHL pickup. DHL told them that the return label was 3 years old and does not work anymore, so my neighbor paid the shipping to send the failed drive back to Apple.

Lessons Learned:

Turns out it is a commodity SATA drive. If I would have stopped at BestBuy on the way home from work on Thursday, I would have saved hundreds of dollars of lost work time, 2 hours on the phone, 4 hours on the road, the embarrassment of having a neighbor ship something for me with out paying first.

My other huge complaint is that there is no formal feedback method for Apple support. I can not find a method to relay the contents of this message to Apple. There is no email address or web form for me to tell my story so that they can fix their processes. Confidence is good; arrogance is bad.

In summary, buy an Apple product for the product, not the support. For a supportable product, buy a PC; I will next time.