Scripting News for 10/16/2006

News.com: “Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, says he will launch a spinoff of the free site, called Citizendium. It will include user registration and editorial controls to govern user-submitted articles, unlike the free-for-all submission process that reigns on Wikipedia.” 

Scott McNulty had the same random shutdown problem with his MacBook, but instead of 19 days to turn the problem around, Apple took 2 hours. I got my Mac today, after calling the Emeryville store repeatedly, it turns out it was fixed last week, and available to be picked up, when I was in the store on Friday. They claim they called me last week, but there was no message. They should send emails, by default. I also pay for a .Mac account, so they know at least one of my mail addresses (they spam me with iTunes offers all the time). In general people who work in Apple Stores have great attitudes, to the point of being a little saccharine, but today I saw something new, a counter person mocking a customer (not me). Anyway, I have the MacBook back now, I’ll let you know if the shutdown problem is solved (I refuse to call it by the initials most people are using).  

I played hookie this afternoon and saw The Departed, which may be the best movie ever made. A long film, the story and the acting hold your interest without letting up for one second. Beautifully edited, an incredible cast, always surprising, often moving. A bit on the violent side, but not without preparing you for it.  

Patrick Phillips: “The editor of Business 2.0 is asking every journalist at his magazine to create a blog. And in a possible first for a major publisher, the participating bloggers at the Time Inc. title will be paid based on their traffic.” 

Speaking of big companies, my MacBook hasn’t worked for almost two months now. I had to wait a couple of weeks while they shipped a part to the Apple store (after claiming they didn’t know about the problem, already widely reported on the net), and then brought it in when they called (same day, I didn’t make them wait) for a 4-5 day repair. That was nine days ago. I tried to go down to the store last week to find out when it would be ready (I was shopping in the area). They wouldn’t talk to me if I didn’t have an appointment. There’s no record of the repair when I enter the number on the website. So I thought I’d call the store today to find out what’s up with the repair. There was no way to find a human being through their voice navigation system. Now I’m on hold hearing “all our representatives are still busy, please hold for the next available representative.” That message comes on every 20 seconds, interrupting music playing behind it. While I’m going through this wait, I figure I’ve already put in a few hundred dollars of my life into fixing the defective machine, and everything in their system is designed to keep me from finding anything out, or getting my machine back (with thousands of dollars of my data on it, btw). While going through this psychic reaming, I’m thinking that while 1984 might not have been like 1984, 2006 surely is. 

After waiting for a half hour, I gave up. They still have my computer, I have no idea when it’ll be ready, and I have no way, short of making an appointment and driving down there (next available slot — 4PM) of finding out if and when I’ll get the computer back. I don’t understand why people love this company, I prefer their computers, but it’s the most user-hostile company I’ve ever had to deal with.  

BTW, my first trip to the Apple store with this problem was on Sept 27. At that point, they knew what the problem was. So it’s been an outage of 19 days. What if this were my primary machine? Geez.  

Colin Faulkingham: “I had a similar experience with Apple.” 

When a big company puts up a “blog” it’s a mistake to believe that it’s actually some kind of blog. That’s the take-away from Wal-Mart’s supposed blog.  

12/9/05: “Anyone who thinks they know what the blogosphere is about is as right as someone who thinks they know the meaning of life, and potentially as dangerous (in a not-nice way) because maybe they’ll try to force you to see it their way.” 

Sean Coon: “Would it be any wonder if Iraqi’s started their own War On Terror?” 

18 responses to this post.

  1. I had a similar experience with Apple. I simply wanted to find out if my laptop latch was repairable via the Apple store. It was a simple question and I described the broken piece very clearly.

    I called Apple Care first and they said I would have to call the Apple store to see if they made that repair at the store. So, I called the local Apple store and they said I had to make an appointment at the Genius Bar. However, I couldn’t make an appointment over the phone I had to make the appointment on the web. Which, BTW is one of the worst web applications I have ever used.

    It was supposed to be a simple question with a simple answer. It turned into a half day ordeal. All said and done I was told by the “Genius” at the Genius bar what I could have been told on the phone. Which, is that latches broken at the base needed to be sent out. Hopefully they’ll figure out that there after the sale service really needs work.

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  2. Posted by Marcelo R. Lopez on October 16, 2006 at 11:10 am

    I’m still amazed with all the might and muster you’ve got, Dave, that this is how things have progressed with you and your MacBook. I bought a powerbook G4 just before they announced the switch, had a little mishap with the case, brought it in, spoke to a genius who packaged it up. 5 days later, I had it back, case as good as new, and under warranty. Funny thing is, while it was gone, I checked in on it’s status, and they were able to pull it, and were able to tell me when it was in route back to the store.

    WIsh you luck getting your ‘Book fixed, but I have to say my experience with Apple Service was totally the opposite of yours.

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  3. Posted by Charles on October 16, 2006 at 11:14 am

    I’ve never had anything like that. My experiences: Call the Apple store, say “hey, my machine just threw a fit and I’m getting in the car.” Drive to the Apple store. Drop it off. Pick it up fairly quickly (a few days, tops). I’ve always had great interaction with them too — easy to talk to a person and only a problem to make an appt. late in the day (booked until closing), or once during Christmas.

    We currently have 5 Macs, and have had a total of about 9 over the last couple years. Maybe a third of them have had one reason or another to take them in (bad third-party RAM on one… really only two “Apple” problems), but one machine had a lot of problems and I always had good service.

    Dunno.

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  4. I upgraded my mother-in-law from a 7200 to iMac G5 17″ last year. On returning home (about 230 miles from the RTP, NC Apple store) she immediately started having the well-known (by then) running fan/overheat/shutdown problem.

    She had AppleCare, which we registered right in the store. But within the week Apple had “lost” that information. She and I spent hours on the phone first convincing them we had Applecare and then trying to get help.

    Finally, she made an appointment for the next week and drove down to Charlotte (the other NC store – 140 miles one-way) to get “hands-on” help. Not only had their “Genius” system forgotten her (luckily, she had printed out the appointment) but when she finally straightened out the “no appointment” mess it was 2 hours later. The “genius” she saw not only didn’t know what they were talking about but was also quite rude.

    I’ve known this woman about 25 years and she’s one of the most patient and kind folks I’ve ever met – she didn’t deserve this crud.

    The Charlotte folks directed her to a “local” Apple authorized repair center that ended up charging her $800 (on a $1800 computer) without resolving the problem. They updated her O/S, signed her up for .Mac, possibly replaced the backplane (though we could never confirm it) and dusted out the insides.

    No change. She was so distraught she went back to her 7200.

    I was so embarrassed to have gotten her to upgrade that my family took a trip down to pick up her iMac to see if the local RTP, NC “genii” could help out. I called the RTP Apple store manager ahead of time, discussed the problems – both service and technical – and told him we expected the best of prompt and understanding service.

    We get to the store for our appointment 15 minutes early. Two hours later we get to see our “genius” (why have appointments?). The “genius” takes the iMac to the back and sends us out for an hour. We come back an hour later to an empty “genius” bar. No “genius” but on the back shelf there’s six iMacs lined up with trouble-tickets attached. Every one had the fan/overheat/shutdown problem.

    Our “genius” appears about 10 minutes later from the back office with our packed iMac. “We couldn’t reproduce the problem” and “anyway, we’ve never heard of anyone having this problem”. I said, “What?” and pointed out the six sick iMacs on their back shelf – all tagged with the same problem. “Oh, I haven’t seen those…that’s curious”. He wasn’t curious enough to take our iMac back and try to resolve the issue.

    We took the iMac home and it did seem to run longer. My mother-in-law found if she ran a 10″ desk fan blowing on the back of her iMac it would keep running, so she settled for that!

    The punchline. About 6 months later, she and my father-in-law returned from an errand. On entering the kitchen they smelled something burning. At first they thought the stove had been left on. As my mother-in-law stood there, not far from the iMac, all the sudden the iMac started bellowing smoke! The PSU/backplane was smoldering.

    After putting out the fire, she called me. I conferenced in the Applecare rep. He was quite apologetic when he heard that her iMac nearly burnt the house down. Upshot, they sent her a new iMac (same model) sans the 2nd gigabyte we’d bought at the store. I offered to come down and install another stick but she said to leave well enough alone.

    The only problem we’ve had since is that the Applecare folks still haven’t been able to switch the warranty/Applecare info from the smoldering iMac serial number to the new iMac’s and she has to go through the whole story whenever she’s had a problem. Now she never calls.

    I’ve never commented on this before, I apologize for the length.

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  5. Oh, during the whole mother-in-law debacle we ended up buying an iMacIntel. 7 months and no problem.

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  6. My trusty Thinkpad died recently and said simply, “Fan Error,” on boot.

    Looking through simple, straight-forward docs published by IBM on how to replace very basic parts (a battery, a fan), I found I could do it myself. And, I’m no genius!

    Thinkpads are user-serviceable!

    More at http://flickr.com/photos/pheezy/244984456/

    Reply

  7. I am going to go tin foil for a minute, but it almost sounds like Marcelo R. Lopez and Charles would have come from the same IP at Apples PR company.

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  8. I had a hell of a time even buying an iMac from an Apple store:
    http://www.barelyfitz.com/blog/archives/2006/09/14/435/

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  9. Wow, this Apple experience sounds awful. But when I compare with other companies (Lenovo, Sony, Dell, in that order), I like that Apple at least has stores with people in them performing service. I figure this must put some sort of upper bound on how bad things can get? As opposed to someone who tells you up front that you can only talk to them on the phone. I guess we’ll see.

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  10. Posted by Bryan Schappel on October 16, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    Apple should fess up to making a crappy laptop. They should replace everyone that exhibits this behavior. There is obviously a defect in the manufacturing. Whether the problem is caused by the OEM that builds the boxes for Apple, from bad heatsink specs from Intel, or whatever, it is up to Apple to fix the problem — for everybody that bought one of these lemons.

    One thing I can assure you won’t happen is that OS X will not just jump up and say it is no longer “genuine”. I just had a computer that’s been running XP Pro for years jump up and claim it is not genuine. I’ve spent three hours on the phone with Microsoft only to be told that even though I have a CD, a Certificate of Authenticity, and proof of purchase that my copy of XP Pro is not genuine. I can assure you that it is genuine.

    My only remedy, according to the tech in India, is to go buy a full retail package of XP Pro. What horseshit.

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  11. Posted by heavyboots on October 16, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    In point of fact, I think I would stop patronizing the Emeryville store. I too have had much faster and better experiences than that with the Apple store here in Tucson. Most repairs take about a week here, but you DO have to call and check when they are done. They should give you a printed slip with all the details of the repair when you turn the equipment over. If they didn’t at least do that, then Emeryville is completely confused.

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  12. Posted by Randy on October 16, 2006 at 6:00 pm

    I was just wondering how come your RSS feed says it is RSS 2.0 when it is not. i think it is more like .92. the required title, link, and description parameters are not there for each item.

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  13. Posted by Diego on October 16, 2006 at 7:13 pm

    I loved The Departed. Scorsese is simply the best director alive. No question about it.

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  14. Dave,

    Apple does have shitty service. I love the products but hate the company. There is something to try. Send an email complaint to steve@apple.com It will go to a higher level of customer service. In a day or so you should hear from Steve Jobs personal assistant. Which is just a big customer service department, but the have the power to actually do something. Wast people have found this is the only way to get good service from apple.

    Reply

  15. Posted by oleolo on October 16, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    Dave, I read Scott McNulty’s article and everything is clear now: You are the right person to have the big old RSS problem. RSS won’t leave you. Ever. :-)

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  16. Randy: RSS 2.0 does NOT require a title.

    From: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss#hrelementsOfLtitemgt
    “All elements of an item are optional, however at least one of title or description must be present.”

    feedvalidator.org also says that scripting.com’s news feed is valid RSS.

    Reply

  17. Apple has a thing for Dave, since he is so keen in given them money no matter how bad he is treated. So their policy is to mistreat Dave at every opportunity, actually the Apple Store employee that gave him his MB back has been fired!!

    They are now suggesting Dave should buy ProCare in order to not have to wait… It’s only 100$ a year! And look at how well ProCare users are treated! Go for it, Dave!

    Reply

  18. Posted by Marcelo R. Lopez on October 18, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    No such luck Tom. Not anywhere near the event horizon of Apple PR’s blackhole. Just an average citizen piping up about his experiences, and commiserating that Dave’s had such misfortune. C’est la vie.

    Reply

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