Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

The Lonely Apple Repairman?

Filed under
Mac

I'm convinced there will never be a lonely Apple Computer repairman.

What finally persuaded me was my experience last week with the folks Apple calls the "geniuses." Now, let me hasten to add one note. I strongly suspect they are in fact geniuses--especially Charlie at Apple's New York store in SoHo, who may be one of the smartest and most reassuring major electronics repair guys I've every run across.

Still, Charlie and his fellow geniuses made my experience only marginally less maddening. Last Monday evening, my 17-month-old iMac G4 died. When I say "die" I mean it was so dead that not even a flatline appeared on my screen. When I finally got through to an 800-number repair guru, and after I made him understand why I couldn't access their 24-hour online tech help, he confessed that my problem was clearly "hardware related" and was beyond his capabilities.

So shortly after 6 AM Tuesday morning, there I was humping my iMac G4 into Apple's SoHo store--its only physical location in New York City. At the "Genius Bar" on the second floor, an eponymous genius looked at it and conceded that it was broken. "Probably the power supply," he nodded gravely.

I breathed a slight sigh of relief when he quoted me a price that was not much more than dinner for two at the neighboring Mercer Kitchen (attached to the Mercer Hotel where Russell Crowe heaved a telephone at a receptionist, an incident which, had I not known better, I might have thought was touched off by his experience next door at the Apple Store).

As the genius was filling out the repair slip, I spotted a printed notice on a board next to where they performed their miracles. It pledged that computers arriving before 8 AM would be ready the same day. Great, I thought. By Tuesday night I'll be back online, cruising the Web and making sure Forbes.com was everything it should be and more.

Wrong.

By the next morning--28 hours after checking iMac into the Genius Bar, Apple's Web site still had my link with the outside world "in triage." Triage? At any hospital, if a patient were still in triage 28 hours after arriving at the hospital, administers would be flying out the door--sacked. Some of the patients would be dead, others would have cured themselves by then and headed home.

An Apple customer service operator explained patiently that the delay was to order a part and have it shipped in, so it probably wouldn't be ready for another week. Another week? Pretty basic, it seems to me--a power supply for what is arguably one of the most popular desktops from Apple in its history. OK, I understand shipping it in. But another week? I mean, UPS and FedEx have made a pretty good business out of getting just about anything from anywhere in the U.S. to anywhere else the next day.

I offered to pay extra for overnight shipping of the part but was told that wouldn't get me my computer any quicker.

Fortunately, I had some phone numbers for some Apple people in Cupertino, Calif., and a couple of phone calls later the wheels were slowly grinding into motion.

"Your experience shouldn't happen to any Apple customer," explained a company spokeswoman. Darn right. Only most people wouldn't have her cell phone number. And indeed, I was by no means alone.

Even at 6:30 that Tuesday morning, there were already several frantic Apple-owners clutching laptops and iPods, waiting to drop them off for repair. Thursday evening, 60 hours after my wife and I first walked up to the Genius Bar, we went back finally to claim our iMac that by this time had been impeccably fixed--they even buffed up the screen thoroughly. And at 6:30 Thursday evening, I counted more than 100 Macniacs queued up, some lugging huge PowerMac G5s, waiting their turn at the Genius Bar.

I'll concede it's probably a little unfair to single out Apple in all this. A Forbes.com colleague pointed out to me that on a recent visit to Best Buy, she saw scores of PC users queuing up at the repair counter clutching their ailing links with the online universe.

So that got me to thinking about the broader question. Twenty-five years after the first PC, the desktop and the laptop are still not nearly as reliable as the most basic automobile, washing machine, refrigerator or, even closer to home, television for that matter. When was the last time you brought your 36-inch color TV into a repair shop? Shouldn't we expect, even demand, better reliability?

I've gone through three computers (a Compaq, Gateway and now iMac) in the ten years since I bought my 36-inch Sony TV. Somehow it just quietly keeps chugging along, anesthetizing me without a single thought.

By David A. Andelman
Forbes

More in Tux Machines

Leftovers: Software and Games

  • Gnome Boxes – A Front-end Tool For QEMU And KVM
    As we all know, there are is no doubt that Linux has tremendous support for Virtualization. There are so many virtualization softwares available including VMWare, VirtualBox, OpenVZ, XEN, KVM, Docker and the list goes. These software are mainly for intermediate and advanced Linux users. If you’re a beginner and having very little knowledge in Virtualization, then it is bit difficult to use the above mentioned tools. You may, probably, need an Intermediate or an expert user’s help. I bet you what? you don’t need anyone help. Yes. Meet Gnome Boxes, a beginner friendly, lightweight, graphical tool that makes virtualization lot easier.
  • Zbackup 1.4.3 Has Been Released. Install It On Ubuntu Or Arch Linux Now
  • Company of Heroes 2 Released on Mac and Linux
    Developed by Relic Entertainment and previously published by SEGA for PC, Company of Heroes 2 is also available now for Mac and Linux via Steam, with the Mac App Store version to follow shortly afterwards, Feral Interactive announced.
  • Carmageddon: Reincarnation Is Still Coming to Linux
    Carmageddon: Reincarnation is a game developed by the same team that made the first title all the way back in 1997. They have already released the game on Windows, and they plan to make it available for Linux users as well.

today's howtos

Embedded/Devices

Leftovers: OSS

  • The FCC Builds Open-Source Video Calling For The Deaf
    The FCC has gotten behind a new platform that helps the deaf talk to each other over video link. The idea of Accessible Communications for Everyone, or ACE as it’s being called, is that it lets all kinds of different apps talk to each other. It’s kind of how you can email anyone without worrying what app they use, only for video, and text and audio, all together.
  • Why Intel made Stephen Hawking's speech system open source
  • NodeConf EU all set for blarney in 'Nodeland'
    It's NodeConf EU time again -- the third annual gathering of what is hoped to be 400 of the top influencers in Node.js at Waterford Castle from September 6th to 9th.
  • 3 steps for planning a successful open source meetup
  • Starting in September, Chrome will stop auto-playing Flash ads
    Google has announced that, beginning September 1, Chrome will no longer auto-play Flash-based ads in the company's popular AdWords program
  • Apache Software Foundation Makes Lens, a Big Data Tool, a Top Level Project
    Whenever the Apache Software Foundation graduates an open source project to become a Top Level Project, it tends to bode well for the project. Just look at what's happened with Apache Spark, for example. Now, the Foundation (ASF), which is the steward for and incubates more than 350 Open Source projects, has announced that Apache Lens, an open source Big Data and analytics tool, has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP).
  • Intel Pumps OpenStack Up
  • LibreOffice 5.0.1 released, to keep the momentum going
  • First Update to LibreOffice 5 Lands
    The Document Foundation today announced the first update to the milestone LibreOffice 5.0 released a few weeks ago. This is a bug fix release bringing over 75 commits since version 5.0 was unveiled August 5. It is recommended that those using the 5.0 branch upgrade their LibO installs with today's update.
  • Salesforce Aura ventures into open source -- to a point
    Salesforce's splashy new UI, the Lightning Experience, is more than a pretty face. It was built with Aura, the company's open source UI framework, available for use independent from Salesforce's services. With Lightning -- and Aura -- Salesforce emphasizes how users can design applications that not only look great, but plug into more than Salesforce. Where, then, does Salesforce's open source offering end with Aura, and where do its own services begin?
  • Infosys talks open source, cloud and value
    Last year, when Infosys hired Abdul Razack to own the company’s platform division, he came with a mandate to use open source first. Eleven months on and Infosys Information Platform (IIP) is flourishing with 120 projects on the go, some proofs of concept, many moving to production, but with open source at their heart in most situations.
  • Eclipse Foundation Moving to Donations to Support Open Source Projects
  • Intel invests $60 million in drone venture
    Intel is investing $60 million in UAV firm Yuneec, whose prosumer “Typhoon” drones use Android-based controllers. Intel Corp. CEO Brian Krzanich and Yuneec International CEO Tian Yu took to YouTube to announce an Intel investment of more than $60 million in the Hong Kong based company to help develop drone technology. No more details were provided except for Krzanich’s claim that “We’ve got drones on our road map that are going to truly change the world and revolutionize the industry.” One possibility is that Intel plans to equip the drones with its RealSense 3D cameras (see farther below).
  • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: August 28 [Ed: out fo date now]
    Join the FSF and friends every Friday to help improve the Free Software Directory by adding new entries and updating existing ones.
  • What Will Become of the World’s First Open Source GPU?
    Dr. Karu Sankaralingam, who led the team’s effort at the University of Wisconsin, where the project is based, says that building an open source or any other hardware project is bound to incur legal wrangling, in part because the IP almost has to be reused in one form or another. Generally, he says that for open source hardware projects like this one, the best defense is to use anything existing as a base but focus innovation on building on top of that. He says that to date, AMD has not been involved in the project beyond a few individuals offering some insight on various architectural elements. In other words, if the team is able to roll this beyond research and into any kind of volume, AMD will likely have words.