I’m a writer. I’m not making a living at it, but I’m working towards that. In 2011, with that eventual outcome in mind, I bought a Macbook. Spending $2,000 for a laptop when I could get a more powerful non-Apple machine for about half the price felt crazy at the time. One small catch – the writing program everyone raves about on the Internet wasn’t available for PC at the time. It is now. But back then, I bit the bullet and bought a Macbook Pro. Then I spent $45 for Scrivener. This personal rant isn’t about the writing software. It’s about the arrogance of Apple.
I avoid Apple stores because they smell of superiority. Customers and sales associates both turn me off. That just isn’t my kind of environment. I like the minimalist approach to design evident in the places, but I don’t like malls, and I don’t like Apple’s policies much. This is a warning to anyone considering buying an Apple product – good luck if you need an emergency repair and go into an Apple store. My touchpad broke today. It won’t click. That makes it almost impossible to write. One sort of needs to be able to mouse clicks for various activities.
So, I used Google Maps and found the nearest Apple store, which was about 30 minutes away. I’m working on a deadline today. I was turned off as soon as I got into the store. There were at least as many “geniuses” as there were customers in the place, and the assault began immediately. Unfortunately, they couldn’t give me what I wanted, which was a working MacBook Pro touchpad. “Do you have an appointment?” Well, gee, no. I’ve never needed to make an appointment to bring in my machine for a repair before. I usually do them myself.
And that is the truth. The MacBook touchpad has been acting up for a year, jumping around and doing squirrelly kinds of things at random times. It has infuriated me more than once. Perhaps you’re a Macbook owner and you, like I have, Googled the problem. It seems certain model years of Macbooks are notorious for “battery swelling” which pushes on the track/touch pad and causes it to act wonky. I replaced the battery just in case. The problem didn’t go away. When the touchpad quit responding properly to my touch, I tried to order one online for overnight delivery. No dice. Apple doesn’t want customers tinkering with their product. Arrogance.
In the first store I went to, the “genius” told me I’d need to come back at 2 P.M. for a diagnostic. “Can I do it myself? I know the part I need.” Nope. She told me that Apple doesn’t sell parts and that they don’t want me working on my machine because it voids the warranty. “I don’t have a warranty anymore.” Too bad. I started looking around at some stuff, trying to calm down. While I was doing that, the same “genius” told me that she had “pulled some strings” and that a technician would take a look. He ran a software diagnostic which revealed nothing, went in the back and told me that they could replace the part and it would take 48 hours. “My deadline is midnight,” I said. He didn’t care much. I asked him why I can’t buy the part, which is in stock, and put it in my machine myself. “Against policy.”
I asked him who is responsible for the policy. Apple corporate was the answer. For a moment, I wanted to burn Apple corporate to the ground. If you want immediate care, I was told, you have to buy a $500-a-year business warranty. I don’t have that kind of money. If I owned a PC I could have replaced the part myself and would have long ago. There are parts warehouses and shipping depots all over the United States and it is relatively simple to do most repairs in home yourself. But with a Macbook, you better have a backup Macintosh.
My files are all backed up to the cloud, so that was not a big deal. What was a big deal though, was that I can’t meet a deadline when I can’t use the mouse. No one at the first Apple store thought of suggesting that I buy a mouse and plug it in to solve the problem. I asked them what the chances of trying a second store would be. They had no idea. All they could tell me was that they were backed up and it would be at least 48 hours before someone could even look at my machine. Part in stock. Total repair time: about 15 minutes. Or, any one of the 18 employees standing around could have suggested that I use a regular mouse plugged into a USB port to solve my issue in the short term.
The second store was better. The technician there actually took the machine in the back after taking my information and tried to adjust the screw on the trackpad. That didn’t work, and I was suspicious it wouldn’t because I’d already tried the same thing myself. But, Royce, who was actually earning the title Apple gives employees, gave it a shot. He also graciously setup the Magic Trackpad, which is incredibly overpriced but nicely designed. Now, I’m able to meet my deadline. I made an appointment for later in the week to get the trackpad replaced. I’ll be setting up a backup plan for the next time something on the laptop breaks. Beware if you depend on a Macbook for your bread and butter – you’ll need a backup plan other than running to the nearest Apple store. Apple may make nice products, but they are also overpriced, and the people making policy about service issues should take a fresh look at how they handle customers in crisis mode.
I should have had a better plan, and Apple should have better policies. How hard would it be to charge extra for an emergency repair on the spot when the part is already in stock?