How do I convince Apple to replace my Powerbook with a Macbook Pro?
April 19, 2007 6:20 PM   Subscribe

I believe I have a decent case for Apple to replace my defective Powerbook G4 with a shiny new Macbook Pro. How do I make this happen?

I bought a Powerbook G4 a year and a half ago, and it never really ran like a new Mac. Took forever to come back from sleep mode (even after I reset the PRAM), and always seemed to be a little flaky compared to other Macs I've had in the past.

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago, when it stopped recognizing one of my RAM chips and eventually started freezing as soon as it booted up. I sent it back to Apple, who replaced the logic board and sent it back to me.

As soon as I started it up out of the box, it froze again. With their guidance, I wiped out my hard drive, re-installed the OS and started over. A week or so later, I moved some library files over from an external drive and the whole thing went down again, this time rendering it unable to get past the white Mac startup screen. Didn't have a chance to back anything up, and tried to re-install the OS again. Errored out on me.

Called them again, they were very apologetic and had me go through a hardware test, which showed that the hard drive needs replaced. They told me to send it back again.

Here's the thing: I have a friend that unexpectedly had his Powerbook replaced with a Macbook Pro after a couple of unsuccessful repairs (because they don't make the G4 anymore and the Pro is the current equivalent). Some research on reveals that the policy is usually 3 repairs in the first 2 years (as long as you have Applecare) before a unit is replaced, but that can vary based on a number of circumstances. I've also read that they won't do this unless you ask.

Does anyone have any experience in getting what you want from a giant corporation? How should I handle this? I asked the representative about it and he said, "Well, we're probably a few unsuccessful repairs away from that." A few? I'm fairly sure I sent this computer back a year ago, bringing me up to 3 repairs, but Apple gives you no way to see your repair history. He said, "Well yeah, there comes a point where it costs less for us to replace it than to keep repairing it," but it costs me a hell of a lot to keep losing my computer, too, considering that I lose the ability to work when I don't have it.

I'm sending back the computer tomorrow when the box comes, and I want to call while it's in California and make my case for them to replace it. What should I say? How do I do this?
posted by empty commercial spaces to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i too have heard the 3 repairs rumor, but it generally has to be "3 failed attempts to fix the same problem". as for not being able to trace a computer's repair history, i have a hard time believing that.
posted by phaedon at 6:25 PM on April 19, 2007

Response by poster: "as for not being able to trace a computer's repair history, i have a hard time believing that."

That's what I would think, too, but there's nowhere to access that information on the Apple support site after you login. I'd be very happy to be proven wrong.
posted by empty commercial spaces at 6:27 PM on April 19, 2007

The policy is that the computer must have a record of 4 attempts to fix the same problem according to standard procedures at an Apple authorized service center. The timespan doesn't matter, but logically for you this should occur within the span of the AppleCare warranty. It is up to you to demand this when the time comes. Keeping your paperwork is very helpful. Doing this through an Apple store is considerably easier than over the phone. I have shepharded two iBooks in our household through this process.

Macrumors is authoritative as its name implies.
posted by ardgedee at 6:38 PM on April 19, 2007

Phaedon is correct. I had to go through two logic board replacements and one power supply replacement on an iMac G5, before a subsequent logic board replacement call allowed the AppleCare rep to replace the unit as a "lemon".

With respect to your repair history, as a lesson to readers, whether Apple, IBM, Lenovo, Dell, or HP:

Keep records of all your repair calls and service tickets
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:41 PM on April 19, 2007

I've had several Apple reps tell me that their customer/repair tracking hardware sucks huge, swollen donkey balls. I have absolutely no trouble believing this, given the number of times I've called about a repeat issue and had a rep tell me there exists no record of it anywhere. At all. Even though I had hardware shipped to me.
posted by yomimono at 6:55 PM on April 19, 2007

It may depend on your local laws. CA has stronger lemon laws than other states.

If you want them to replace it, ask them if they can replace it. Is that so hard? Point out the series of recent failures, seems like it would be a good idea from a support POV since there might be something very systemically wrong with that computer given its string of recent failures.
posted by Ookseer at 6:56 PM on April 19, 2007

I am a fan of the Strongly Worded Letter. But if you bought a G4 a year and a half ago, wasn't it already outdated (i.e. the MacBook was in existence)? So it seems a bit gratuitous to try to swindle a new MacBook out of them now.
posted by loiseau at 7:43 PM on April 19, 2007

I got lenovo to place my tablet instead of attempt to repair it by threatening legal action. The problem was nothing they new how to fix -- they wanted to "explore" in my computer. I told them no dice. I go to a big school (UMich) with free legal consultation. I set up an appointment. Then, I called Lenovo and told them I set up an appointment with a lawyer to start a small claims proceding. I told them it was either that or they replace my computer. They said they wanted to repair it again. I told them that we'd be in court then. They said they didn't have any units left. I told them I wanted a full refund, or I would see them in court. Two months later, I had a new computer. It works perfectly.
posted by Eringatang at 7:53 PM on April 19, 2007

Spell = really bad tonight, sorry.
posted by Eringatang at 7:54 PM on April 19, 2007

Best answer: I would just keep asking them, every time you call up with a new problem "hey, this is really a pain ... can you guys just send me a new unit?" Don't be an ass about it, but be assertive, and ask every time. Eventually you'll reach the magic number of repairs and/or they'll relent and send you a new one.

It may be that the upper-level techs have a certain amount of discretion as to when they can replace vs repair, so it might behoove you to be the "squeaky wheel" (which is again different from being an ass about it and making them just hate you).

I don't think there's any magic way to go about this. You have a computer which isn't working, and it's spending a lot of time in the shop. You're not happy with it. You want a working computer so you can do work with it. Tell them that.

Obviously, if you sound like you're fishing for a new computer, just because you want a shiny new computer, they're probably going to stonewall you. But if you make it clear that you're annoyed because you don't have the computer that you paid for and expected to work around, someone might feel your pain and help you out.

Just don't let AppleCare lapse! And I second all the recommendations about keeping good records on your end of all the repairs.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:25 PM on April 19, 2007

Best answer: I worked for Apple Customer Relations (the department that will address this request if you call) and am now an Apple service provider. They won't replace this machine unless you complete this repair and then require a fourth. Doesn't matter how strongly you make the request if you're not looking at repair number four. Also: don't threaten legal action. There's no better way to get them to disconnect a call with you than to do that.

Send the machine in and see if the repair works. Keep your paper records of repairs. Record the dates and times of any calls you make to them, along with the names of the rep(s) you talk to. Should a fourth repair become necessary, you're golden. Before that they'll continue to pursue repair.

Good luck.
posted by hollisimo at 8:35 PM on April 19, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks guys. Looks like I'll be in the rare position of hoping for my laptop to fail one more time. But even if that happens... do any of you Apple-experienced people know of a way to access my repair history?

I realize that I should have been keeping better records, but now I know. Is there a way to access this on the support site? Should I just ask a rep on the phone for the unit's repair history?
posted by empty commercial spaces at 10:01 PM on April 19, 2007

i thought i had posted a longer version of this story, but i cant find it.

bottom line was i had 2 repairs, then a 3rd failure, and they replaced my powerbook.

at any rate, write a nice letter explaining that the machine is pretty much a lemon and see what they do. in my case i got a call back from someone in apple corporate, not applecare. on the 3rd failure i was able to contact this person directly and he set me up immediately with a new machine.
posted by joeblough at 10:04 PM on April 19, 2007

They won't replace this machine unless you complete this repair and then require a fourth.

This was my experience. I had an ibook g3 with a logic board that just couldn't be fixed and when the board bit it for the fourth time I asked very nicely to get the machine replaced with a g4. This was a bit of a headache because I had to back up my whole hard drive to an external drive [they will not send you a laptop and then have you send yours back, so keep this in mind]. When you call you should be able to get Apple's record of your history but try to document as much as you can on your own even if it's just a list.

- got logic board replaced March 2006
- etc

You'll want to straighten it all out with the rep BEFORE you send it back though. If they were going to replace it you don't want them repairing it first and then having you ask for a replacement.
posted by jessamyn at 10:58 PM on April 19, 2007 any of you Apple-experienced people know of a way to access my repair history? "View All of My Repairs: If you have an Apple ID, simply sign in to check the status of all your repairs." It doesn't specify what the repairs were, but it does provide a history.
posted by Dean King at 7:52 AM on April 20, 2007

If you'll email me your machine's serial number, I can probably access your repair history.

hannalore2 at yahoo
posted by hollisimo at 8:20 AM on April 20, 2007

Did you ever replace the RAM? Despite the logic board replacement and the drive wipe, it all sounds like bad RAM to me.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:03 AM on April 20, 2007

I can't remember how many repairs I was at before they replaced my ibook with a new one. But it was smooth sailing after I sent a long, detailed snail-mail letter to customer relations.
posted by frescaanddietcoke at 12:08 PM on April 20, 2007

I should clarify "threaten legal action." I informed Lenovo that I had made an appointment with a lawyer to start a small claims proceding. I wasn't yelling or angry. Which, I guess, upon reflecting, isn't actually a threat, more of a statement of fact -- I just told them how I was handling the matter and why. No one got flustered or hung up on me. I was totally ready to go through with the small claims filing. My computer was such a lemon that no amount of miraculin would have fixed it. Also, I had "evidence" from online forums that lenovo had given other customers new units to fix the same problem I was having, so I think I had a good case and they knew it.
posted by Eringatang at 3:23 PM on April 20, 2007

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