A rotten Apple

1/18/2016 10:10:00 pm

A while ago, I wrote about how a failing graphics cable convinced me on to upgrade my MacBook in April last year. Remember how I had to get the motherboard on my shiny new Macbook Pro replaced? It didn't end well. 

I read an article in today's paper about Harvey Norman being fined by the ACCC for refusing to help people who purchased faulty computers from one of their stores. Aside from the fact that why the f**k would you actually buy anything from Harvey *don't trust online shopping* Norman, I was so completely unsurprised at this kind of behaviour from an Australian retailer. Sadly, I had expected more from Apple, but I was so, so badly mistaken. 

The Computer

As I wanted to maximise the hard drive size, RAM and processor speed, but didn't want it to cost the actual earth,   I elected to get a custom build inside a mid-2012 MacBook Pro body. Also I didn't want to fork out the cash when it could be sitting in my account earning interest, so for the first time in my life, I bought it on finance. 

These two factors have turned out to be very poor life decisions. 

The problems

From the start I was not that impressed with the function of this new MacBook. It seemed laggy, and took an eternity to wake from sleep, sometimes up to a minute for the trackpad to become functional. 

Then it started crashing. Strange flickering lines would appear on the screen. And it wouldn't wake when I opened the lid. I lost work twice when trying to operate two applications concurrently, resulting in kernel panic. 

Genius Bar appointment 1, Apple Store, Broadway:
This one was with a nice guy called Drew. He erased and restored, he tested the hardware, he clicked some buttons. He booked my MacBook in for repairs. That took 1.25 hours, plus leaving work early to get over to Broadway. 

Broadway, pickup:
Took 20 minutes plus time getting to Broadway but fine, whatever. 

Got home and tried to migrate. But the migration assistant wasn't working. It would start, then at some point, it would stop. 
I tried everything I could find on the interwebs - with wifi, without wifi, hard discs awake, disc permissions repaired. Nada. That, all told, was about 3 hours of my life. 

Apple support phone call 1:
Mohammed got me to try a number of things which I had already tried. Then he got me to do a PRAM reset, as if such a thing is a special secret tool that only Apple staff know about. Then he got me to attempt to migrate again. I explained that if it failed, it wouldn't do so until an hour or so in, so he said he could arrange a call back. 
45 minutes. 

It didn't work. 

Apple support phone call 2:
This guy blamed it on my Ethernet cable. I explained that was unlikely, since the cable had worked perfectly on April and had been undisturbed since then. 
He suggested that I would need to purchase either an external hdd or a thunderbolt cable. I explained that I was unprepared to do so since the computer should be working using the migration method that is supported by their own system design (computer to computer). 
He said I should go to the Genius Bar. 45 minutes. 

Genius Bar appointment 2, Apple Store, Broadway:
Peter this time, an obnoxious little poo, who didn't actually know how to use migration assistant. I was like, "ah, um, you need to click...yep, no click the button". He ran a hardware test. Just like the first time, it was normal. He suggested that it was a problem with my old computer. I explained that was unlikely since there were no issues with the old computer apart from the graphics cable, I had successfully migrated previously, and when quitting out of a failed migrate, it was stuck on the new computer, not the old one (if I would reopen migration assistant, it would show up the last frozen pane from the session I had just quit out of). 
I also explained that I was concerned that although the logic board had been replaced, the computer still seemed laggy and not particularly responsive. With a huff and an eye roll he stated, "what is this, a 2012 Macbook Pro, running Yosemite? [Snigger] it's never going to be the fastest computer."
He then went on to say that the only option would be to get an external hdd and try to migrate off that, or Apple could do it for $120. I asked why I should have to buy a hard drive when it was migration assistant that was failing, on a computer covered by Apple care, and he said that because it was a data issue, Applecare did not cover it. He then gestured to the wall of hard drives available for purchase, at which point I exclaimed, "Do I look stupid?" and took myself to JB Hi-Fi. That was another 45 minutes, and a purchased external hard drive. 

I got home, backed up to old computer, and then after 2 attempts, was able to migrate. 

Then the next day, the intermittent flashing lines reappeared. Oh man. I felt some irritation, I tell you.  Then the same problem with the computer not waking when the lid was opened, and Photos crashed when I was in the middle of something. I reopened photos, but the lag was so bad that it wasn't until I had opened it and was already working on something else that the error reporter appeared and asked if I'd like to reopen and send a report to Apple. 

Genius Bar appointment 3, Apple Store, Broadway:
I was on time for my reservation, and waited 20 minutes for service. I explained the nature of the problem, and my frustrations, to Penny. I also stated that I wanted a refund, at which point she explained that she would need to speak with the manager, Marie. After much discussion, Penny came back and told me that she was unable to assist with a refund as I had purchased from the online store. And also, because it was bought on finance, it was pretty much just an imaginary purchase that they could not help with.    
To say I was pretty annoyed is an understatement, although to my credit, I did not cry! I explained that as these issues constituted a major failure of the product, I was therefore entitled to my choice of a replacement or a refund. I also expressed my desire to avoid wasting even more of my time being shuffled around different, faceless Apple online staff, given that this had consumed a huge amount of my time already, and also resulted in me losing work when programs and the computer have crashed without warning. As it is, that visit was also almost 45 minutes, and resulted in me leaving with only a promise that someone from Apple online would call me. 

The end of the line

Phone call three, spoke to 5 different people in multiple departments:
First I was put through to tech support. The person I spoke to agreed that this sounded like a serious problem. He then put me on to customer service. After being on hold for quite a while, the representative came back on and explained that she would need to put me back to Applecare. I was put back to Jake in Applecare, who then transferred me through to John, a product specialist. He said that they would need to prove a hardware fault before a refund could be processed. I explained that 2 hardware tests have already been performed, and the logic board replaced, without showing any indication of what the actual issue is. He put me on hold for a long time, and apparently called the Broadway store. I was then put on hold again, and put through again to customer support (this time Hetal), just when I was getting ready to totally lose my shit once and for all. At that point the line became very patchy, and I couldn't hear what was being said, apart from, "We will need to refer this to the legal department", at which point the call dropped out. I was on the phone for 54 minutes and then then phone dropped out. 

I have been an Apple user for almost 2 decades, but this debacle had me at my wits end. Ultimately, all I wanted was a computer that worked, and Apple completely effed it up. I had to bring up Australian Consumer Law multiple times throughout that last phone call in particular, stressing that the product was faulty and as such, I was entitled to a refund. Full stop. Then, when they did finally agree that there might be something wrong with the product and had the good grace to agree upon a refund, they said it would take 6-to-8 weeks because they do it via wire transfer!!

I think what pissed me off the most is that my time is valuable, you know, I have shit to do on Instagram... it's really difficult to blog from my iPad and my phone is too small to fully appreciate cats being funny on youtube!

Anyway, there are a couple of morals here:
  1. Never buy from Apple if you can avoid it
  2. Never buy a custom build
  3. Never buy from the Apple online store
  4. Never assume that Apple has any interest in helping you. The days of stores full of nerds and quality products is long gone, having been replaced by hip young things with beards and bad attitudes. 
I'm a total chump, and will probably end up buying another bloody Macbook, but this one rotten Apple has left a bad taste that is going to linger for a long time. Luckily the screen smack, smack, squeeze, routine on my old computer is still working...and I'm going to damn well make it work for as long as I can before I cave.

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