Apple Occasionally Kicks Ass: A Tech Support Experience

Last night, I was typing happily along on my MacBook Pro, unplugged and on battery power with about 40% indicated remaining, when bam, the power went right out like a light. Curse words. Flipped the thing over, and got no LED action from the battery charge indicators. Plugged it in and it would boot, but pull the plug and it goes down hard again.

I had just bought the thing in December 2006, refurbished direct from Apple and with a 3 year Applecare extended warranty.

Well, I hopped on the bike and made it to the Apple store in the peculiar ring of hell known as “University Village” (an upscale retail cesspool here in Seattle. Aside #1: Never go there. Aside #2: When you must, ride a motorcycle or bicycle, because parking is impossible, and the sheer Schadenfreude of watching the SUVs joust and jockey while you glide to within a few meters of your destination almost makes the place bearable).

The Apple storeites had me belly up to the Genius Bar (their open-air repair facility). I handed the MacBook over with a brief description of the problem. As the guy was keying in something (serial number?) he started to regale me with an explanation of the normal sleep procedure and how the battery is supposed to work. “Oh shit,” I thought, “here comes runaround city.”

The guy leaves, I get ready to get comfortable and either wait it out or raise sufficient hell to get what I need.

To my surprise and delight, when the “Genius” returned, he had a box in his hand just slightly bigger than the batter in question. Snip, snip, out comes the battery, and into my laptop it goes. Hands it over without a word and gets to printing me a receipt. Holy shit — he just silently and competently fixed my problem, without me paying a dime or sitting through any bullshit (other than the complimentary, brief lecture on hibernate vs. power down while he looked up the inventory for the replacement part)!

Too many other tech repair facilities have long algorithms they have to go through, debugging procedures, etc. — all of which ostensibly save money on parts but waste uncounted hours of techs’ and customers’ time. Apple, despite really dropping the ball when my wife’s laptop started crashing intermittently eleven-and-a-half months into owning it, really came through on this one.

Pros: This is exactly how customers should be treated. Fix it. Sign for it. Send ’em on their way. Go Apple!

Cons: This probably means that the Genius bar sees quite a few cases of MacBook Pro battery-sudden-death.

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