AppleCare: the worst thing about owning a Mac

My head spins when I read what peliom has to say about AppleCare:

It’s very frustrating but still, I would *much* rather be dealing with Apple Support than Dell or HP.

As I write this, my MacBook Pro is in a DHL box, on it’s way to Apple’s repair facility for the third time. I’ve had five different problems with this machine (very early MBP, serial number starts with 860) and come to realize that AppleCare is fundementally broken. When they encounter a hardware problem, they do two things:

  1. They try to convince you that your hardware problem is really a software problem.
  2. When that fails and they actually accept your machine for repair, they try to make it boot and then stop trying to fix your machine.

The first time I sent my MacBook Pro in for repair, I had a bad hard drive that was quite obviously bad. I explained, in great detail, what was wrong, and after the usual AppleCare run-around they finally sent me ‘the box’, and I sent it in. They sent it back with same hard drive installed, the machine was still crashing in the exact same way, but the machine booted, and that’s what’s important. If they can get the OS to boot, then they can tell you that you have a software problem.

So I have this machine that has been to Apple for a new HD, and come back with the same 100GB HD that has only 30GB total free space after reformat, and the console is filling up with read errors. I called AppleCare again, and got connected to a ‘specialist’, who attempted to convince me that this was a software problem:

him: OK, your machine is booted? Now in the Application menu…
me (wondering what app has an Application menu): Um, which app..
him: …choose the Utilities menu
me: wait…
him: … now select Disk Utility
me: Oh, you mean the Utilities folder…
him: Yeah, also known as the Utilities MENU.
him: So does the S.M.A.R.T. Status say Verified?
me: Let me explain what’s going on.. I sent this machine in for a new HD, and it came back with the same HD. After a format-and-install, the HD has only 30GB total space. It also read errors when trying to access a lot of the system files.
him: Well, I don’t know how you found those read errors. I’m going to ask you to run Verify Disk Permissions..

To the engineer who put ‘Verify Disk Permissions’ into Disk Utility, congratulations. You’ve probably saved Apple hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair costs. AppleCare thanks you for giving them an easy way to hang up on customers suffering from hard drive problems.

My friend Shag only buys laptops from companies that sell on-site support. Watching him interact with Toshiba support is eye-opening. When he has a problem, he calls them up, and the next day they send a repair guy to whereever shag happens to be. And they come with the part they need to fix the laptop. And they don’t try to talk him out of the repair by blaming it on some bogus disk permission voodoo. I am through with trying to deal with AppleCare, and I doubt my next laptop purchase will be a mac.