Can a bad Apple be saved?
October 21, 2010 11:51 AM   Subscribe

When trying to get a Macbook repaired, how is the BEST WAY to make a stink without being an asshole?

I read this one and this one but still not quite there.

At the beginning of October, my macbook took to shutting itself off when unplugged from the wall. I've had it for 2 years sans problems. Called Applecare, they said to take it in. No problem.

They replaced my battery and charger ("just in case") but figured it was probably the logic board. So they sent it in.

Got it back 4 days later. Now it was locking up every time I tried to do more than one thing at a time. Back to the store. They reinstalled the OS, tried to run everything at once, said they could not get the problem to repeat. Ok, awesome.

Then when the lappy went to sleep, would not wake up. At this point I'm leaving for a trip, so it will get shut off and I'll deal in 4 days, which brings us to...

Monday, booted up, no problem. Used for an hour and then (what I now know as) KERNEL PANIC! Called Applecare (again), she ran me through an update. We sat there for 20 minutes and no Kernel panic! Got a case number. Said to call back if it happened again...which it did just as the computer was supposed to reboot itself.

I called AGAIN and the usless tech who answered said it was SUPPOSED to happen (rebooting). She didn't seem to understand it was hollering about rebooting in 5 languages and not just doing it itself. "FINE," I said. "I'll reboot and see what happens."

Which led me to calling AC again 20 minutes later when the whole works locked up again. I left it like that and trotted BACK to the Apple store. Where a Genius bar tech was able to make the laptop Kernel panic again, and sent it in to have the logic board replaced AGAIN.

I am lacking in faith that this will fix the problem once and for all when I get the computer back this week. How can I get them to finally fix it or just replace the computer. It is 2 years old and the applecare ends next year. I have saved ALL paperwork/correspondence.

TL:DR - My Macbook is in the shop for the third time this month. What should I do if this doesn't repair the problem once and for all?

Thanks in advance.
posted by bibliogrrl to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IIRC, if you come back with the same problem 4 times, they'll replace your machine with a factory refurbished model.

Just be polite and firm and keep calling Applecare every time this happens and you'll be fine.
posted by Oktober at 11:54 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

This happened to me and Apple did indeed give me not just a refurbished laptop but a brand spanking new laptop. I don't recall if I took it in the magic four times as Oktober notes above but it was around that.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 12:00 PM on October 21, 2010

Seconding Oktober's 4th-time-prompts-replacement with my own story - I had about the same problem, this time last year, three logic board replacements over a series of 17 days (I never called Applecare, I just went straight to the Apple store) and after it was sent back the third time and wouldn't boot out of the box, the manager interrupted my crying to say he was taking my machine in the back to transfer all of my data onto my brand new MacBook!

Just from my experience, do not get frustrated, do not get mad - they are just humans. If you don't know why the computer is not working, don't be mad when a complete stranger that is not even holding the computer does not know why it is not working. The cool, calm (aside from tears-springing-to-my-eyes when my computer wouldn't boot) and polite approach worked extremely well to get a new laptop, new iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, two iPods and a new cinema display.
posted by banannafish at 12:06 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Banannafish - In the store, I have no problem at all being polite (I work retail myself). But after the phone call when the woman I spoke with did not believe that I was having a repeat of the problem, I remain skeptical. EVERY SINGLE OTHER TECH I dealt with was awesome and helpful, but it only took one to leave me skeptical, you know?
posted by bibliogrrl at 12:09 PM on October 21, 2010

I've been on the other side of the counter in this situation before (but not at Apple.) What works best? Come to the physical location with at least one piece of paperwork from every previous service instance, and a piece of paper (typed!) that briefly explain the problem and its progression with service instances. What you have is a fringe case where something that doesn't normally cause a problem is killing other components. Maybe something is shorting on something else, or who knows. But the normal service process doesn't handle these well--unless, that is, there is a clear and strong signal sent up the chain of command that this machine needs special attention.

Repair centers hate intermittent issues just as much as the customer does, because the normal repair process doesn't allow time (or infrastructure) for a machine to sit around and get tested until it manifests the problem again. It's also pretty much first on every repair center manual ever that you have to reproduce a problem before you can fix it (and can only then justify replacement if the fix is impossible.) Problems like these are universally frustrating.
posted by Phyltre at 12:09 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

bibliogrrl--can't blame you, and you're not alone. I was outright called a liar by Mac "support" people (and I know everyone from Wil Wheaton to J. Random Macusing Geek thinks they're god's gift to geek kind), so I'm pretty leery of them myself. But it does seem that more people have good experiences with them than bad, so persistence is probably the key (I was dealing with intense pressure from grad school and had to drop dealing with one or the other, and following up on the defective iBook lost). Good luck.
posted by wintersweet at 12:12 PM on October 21, 2010

In late 2006, my iMac's power supply blew. Off to the shop (a third-party store with an active Apple repair business -- this was before the Apple Store came to Ottawa). When it came back, one of its fans was permanently stuck to on. Back to the shop. When it came back after that, the webcam was borked.

I suggested to AppleCare that this was a bit much and expressed my displeasure with the repair shop. They agreed. They sent someone out to fix my iMac on site. At home. AppleCare apparently does house calls. But I live out in the country. That was impressive.

The plural of anecdote is not data, but my experience suggests that persistence will pay off and that they will do what they can to make this right. You're anxious because you're worried, I think, that they will give up at some point or give you the cold shoulder or ignore you. I don't think they will.
posted by mcwetboy at 12:19 PM on October 21, 2010

Response by poster: This is all awesome advice. Keep it coming.

It's also what I thought. I'm hoping it comes back fixed, but if it doesn't, at least I now have an idea what to expect.
posted by bibliogrrl at 12:21 PM on October 21, 2010

The best approach is to just document all the instances a problem has occurred and mention the unacceptable response you are feeling towards their approach. I've done this with I don't know how many iphones and an iPad.
To give Apple credit, they generally will take the course of least resistance.
I don't own any apple products due to their high rate of failure. I've never had the issues so many have with competitors products compared to Apples.
posted by handbanana at 12:38 PM on October 21, 2010

But after the phone call when the woman I spoke with did not believe that I was having a repeat of the problem, I remain skeptical. EVERY SINGLE OTHER TECH I dealt with was awesome and helpful, but it only took one to leave me skeptical, you know?

Oh, absolutely. However, it might be useful to consider that the technicians run into the same situation on a daily basis in reverse. We very frequently heard from customers who insisted that there was an ongoing problem with the machine, only to discover while looking at the machine that they were experiencing totally unrelated issues (usually software-side) or were even actively causing the problem themselves by flagrant mishandling (laptop hinges and power ports were two common problem areas.) Technicians don't want to doubt the customer--but if there weren't any fact-checking, we'd be handing some people 4 new machines within a year of their first purchase.
posted by Phyltre at 1:36 PM on October 21, 2010

I found the folks at Applecare were very responsive when I called them; however I used phrases like, "My laptop is integral to my work," and, "I am disappointed that we have not been able to resolve this." Consequently, after only my second call, they had me package up the laptop and send it in, and rather than replacing the logic board at all, they just sent me a new laptop.

So you might try that if they don't automatically furnish the new laptop and the replaced logic board has the same problems.
posted by misha at 5:01 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you have AppleCare, log into the Apple website and get the information from there. You can get the full service history of your machine from there, which may help if you need to go to a Genius Bar.

Also, check and reserve in advance at the Genius Bar. While there will be a range of time to go in after your official appointment time, for me it's never been less than 20 minutes in northern New Jersey, in Manhattan, and in Seattle. You will thank yourself, and not have to wait an uncertain amount of time for a space to open up.

Finally, if you have a camera take a photo of it when it crashes, if you can catch it before the full reboot. Any kind of error message you can provide, any sort of documentation at all, is absolute gold in the hands of a tech, and they will love you to bits.
posted by mephron at 5:07 AM on October 22, 2010

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