Apple = Lemon = Oh my!

I feel compelled to write this entry, as after 3 months of uncertainty and frustration, I feel the end is near. I refrain from writing negative thoughts, however, I wanted my experience to be useful to someone else out there who might be going through the same/similar experience.

If you check the Urban Dictionary and search the word lemon, under the 4th entry, you will find following description:
“A car that you buy that you think is good, but really it sucks like hell and will break right after you buy it.

I never knew that term before and I was told that it works for not only cars but technology in general. So, following story is my “lemon” experience.

Towards the end of 2011, I’ve finally gathered enough funds to invest into a new computer. It wasn’t equaling the expense of buying a car, but it was pretty close. In terms of technology, it was a considerable chunk of change. I was happy, blissfully using my new iSlave (as I lovingly called it) on daily bases. We were inseparable, like a new romance…. A year passed by without any problems. It ran like a Swiss watch 🙂 Then, in the 13th month of life (I mind you, by now my warranty expired by a month) I get a blank, grey screen. My first thought was that I really worked my machine to death (Last year was very busy and I worked 10-12 hours every single day, including Sundays), or I was one of the first users to contract a virus on a MAC!!! Believe me, I am a virus magnet 🙁  Then it hit me, I am out of warranty! OH NO!!!!! As the panic was setting in, my husband and I looked at all the scenarios and possible expenses.  I searched online (using my husband’s trusty, 9 year old HP lap-top) but things I found didn’t sound encouraging at all. Lot of nasty notes and posts from disappointed and angry users. In general, they were all situations I was hoping never to have to go through. But what surprised me the most was their experiences with the Apple tech support! I thought to myself, it cannot be that bad. If you are nice and civil with them, they will treat you well in return. It is, after all a superior product, which has to have a superior support behind it, right?”

So, we got our 1st appointment with the Genius at the Apple store. It was very encouraging when they hooked up my computer to all their testing cables and said right away: “Don’t worry, we go through this all the time and we’ll find out what the problem is in a minute”. It felt like having a child at the doctors office. I’ve never had to take my computer to anybody to be fixed before, so it was a foreign feeling for someone to get this close to my personal belonging.  Anyways, the first tests didn’t show any problems. So, we left the computer in for repair. Honestly, I was sweating for 3 days waiting to hear what the damage will be.  3 days later, we got the phone call. It was a video card melt down and we had to wait couple of more days for them to order it and replace it. All right, that was a better news then expected!  A $400 repair didn’t seem like the end of the world. It could have been a lot worse, so with the lighter heart, we got the computer back, from the grumpy “genius” technician, who was not even kind enough to turn it on and tell us what caused the problem. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that I got my computer back and I could resume to work on my deadlines. They gave me 3 month warranty on the part. All is good, well and happy. The computer worked again and I was back into the swing of things, until 2 months later BAM!  The same thing AGAIN! Grey screen, then blue screen then I could no longer reboot. Checked my warranty and to my relief, it was still a whole month before expiration. Really, it’s been only 2 months… time flies but it really doesn’t. Everything gets out of whack when you work so many hours a day…

Got our 2nd appointment. Got the cables hooked up to it again, running tests again. They ask questions like what I was doing at the time computer freaked out?, Do I have it plugged into a surge protector? After an extensive interview process, they write down the analysis and say they will replace the logic board and graphic card, this time and they will not charge us because this is a repeat repair. You better don’t charge me, because you will not see the penny out of me this time (I thought to myself) I was silently getting angry, because nobody can tell me what causes the problem and what the problem actually is.  You can replace all the possible parts but if you don’t tackle the root of the problem, you didn’t do much good at all. So, another 3 days for the graphic card to arrive and repairs to be made. Back at the store to another grumpy and this time nasty genius tech.who brings the computer to us with high almighty attitude: “Any questions?” Oh, yes please: “What was wrong with my computer?”  Genius tech.: “We replaced logic board and video card, you have 3 month warranty. Have a good day!” YOU ARE DISMISSED! YOU WORTHLESS CUSTOMER YOU!!!! We felt like trash because we were treated like one. Unbelievable, coming from one of the most reputable companies, who make high cost, superior products! I looked at my husband who was by now fuming and about to explode. I had to drag him out of the store before we would have created the scene.

Since this was our 2nd repair, we called Apple support directly, explained the situation and requested our money for the 1st repair to be returned, since that didn’t seem to be the problem in the first place. They agreed to the refund and they said that our situation is inexcusable, and that we should not have to go through this. They also asked if we would review the experience at the store. Oh yes gladly we would!  🙂 As the normal business procedure, if you have a repeat repair from the same customer so close together, you would be approached by the manager who would talk to you and do their best to make you a happy customer again. None of that was ever the case in the Apple store – Ft. Lauderdale!  So, we gave them our review with pleasure.
Back to work yet again. I’ve made sure all my back ups are in place on the Time machine. I’ve transferred some of my most current files to the Dropbox for easy access from another computer, if this should ever repeat itself. In general, I felt like I was walking on eggshells!  Always expecting a gray, blue or beige screen screen to show up 🙁
All in all, it worked for another month, when AGAIN the gray screen showed up to greet me. This time, there was no rebooting, not the chance! It was not a surprise any longer. I knew, since I never got any explanation as to what the real problem was, that this would happen again.  Called the Apple support and explained that the same problem keeps arising. Told them, I cannot longer rely on this computer and that we request the new computer be issued to us. They said, after this last repair, if the problem comes back, we will get the new machine.

So, we made the 3rd appointment! Computer gets hooked up again….and all that jazz! Nobody knows what the problem is. The genius young lady, told us we have been handled by the most seasoned technicians on the team, which she was one of them BTW, and in her 6 years of experience (6 years?) she has never seen anything like this before. She was extremely nice, but by now I am wondering if there is anybody experienced enough to really fix the problem. Yes, I know genius will transfer the data on your iPhone, or your computer, they will also get into the computer and replace parts…. but fix the problem? Not so sure 🙁 Again, we leave the computer at the store to be “fixed”. I am calculating the time I am away from work, the time I am not making income, the gas money we spent on traveling to and from the store and all the logistics around this case. What once was my pride and joy, is now unreliable nightmare I can’t seem to get rid of.  I am watching the people dragging their huge boxes with newly purchased computers and silently wishing them good luck. I leave the store myself, with the note of 3-5 days time for repair…
They were good to their word. 3 days later, we got the call. The computer is ready but we would like to see you and talk to you about the problem. I immediately start questioning myself and my computer handling skills… It feels like they are trying to put the blame on me… Went to the store. They brought the computer back and it works wonderful, as usual. This time they actually plug it in and give us the preview…. wow! Quite an improvement from before, or so I thought.
The “genius” tells me I need to clean up my desktop, so my computer can run faster. I should also dump the Photoshop and work with Pixalate program, all professionals use these days. It’s much cheaper and it does everything Photoshop does! REALLY! ARE YOU FOR REAL?! Then he tells me I have to scrub my entire computer and re-install everything from scratch, because continuously updating will slow down the computer. That might be right, but that was not the reason why I was in the store at all. WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM WITH MY COMPUTER? Genius: “Ah that, I can’ t tell for sure but it could be your power at the house. If you have it plugged into a surge protector, you have to replace it more often than you think. In Florida we have power fluctuations all the time. However, here ere at the store we have perfect power! You might be better off to plug it straight into the wall.”  – WHAT?!  This whole time I am not believing what I am hearing but I am just violently trying to keep calm and let him talk. This is coming from the Apple seasoned,experienced, GENIUS technician! I could not believe he was saying all these things to me.

Firstly, it is highly condescending that Apple would call their technicians GENIUS when they cannot fix the problem. Secondly, if they really cared about their customers, then the review we gave them would mean enough to follow up with the phone call or at least a word from the store manager. It is unfortunate things have to happen that way. Big , successful companies like Apple and many others, have forgotten what makes them successful. They are too proud to admit their mistakes.

It makes you wonder after all this, why do I still want Mac? Because, I do believe they have a good product and I was just one of those who ended up with the lemon. It happens. Every basket has a bad apple, sort of speak. I will take this experience with grain of salt and continue with my work and life.
If you stuck long enough to read through the entire post, I hope it gives you a little perspective and help, should you ever have to go through the similar experience.

I still don’t know what the real problem is. I know as humans we can’t possibly know everything. However, it is OK to say I don’t know and it’s OK to say it was my fault, my mistake. Just please have enough decency to treat me well as I would have treated you.

I got my repaired computer Friday night.  It worked the whole Saturday and died Sunday noon. Ironically enough, on my birthday. Shortest repair life ever.

Happy Birthday to me!  I am getting a new iMac 🙂


P.S. Few days after I wrote this post, we went to the store and after couple of hours reviewing the paperwork and notes from the Apple support, they gave me a new computer. They made it right by me, however not without so much uncertainty and frustration. If you are in the market for a Mac, please consider buying Apple Care protection plan.
As of right now, I am back in action 🙂