Bad Apples

I have a Macbook Pro 15” 2.2GHz which was purchased in 2007. I purchased AppleCare with it locally as the company I work for has an arrangement which allows them to purchase AppleCare locally. Doing a warranty check against my serial number on the Apple website confirmed that the warranty expires in 2010. The machine started giving me graphics related issues, but they weren’t consistent so I didn’t take it in for a few days while I tried to find out what the problem was, if any. I ended up running Apple diagnostics and unfortunately my suspicions were confirmed as I was told that I do indeed have a graphics card issue. I then found out that this is a common problem with Macbook Pros that have NVIDIA graphics cards like my one and that Apple extend the standard one year warranty to two years for this fault. Given all of that I felt that it was safe to assume that this was a fairly common problem that Core must surely see pretty frequently, and that it couldn’t be too hard to diagnose seeing as even I was able to diagnose it, and that given how common the problem was, Core would be silly to not keep stock of the replacement parts.

I was going to take the machine to the Core technical center in Jet Park, so I went to the Core website to find the address. Mmm, confusing. The website still said that Core were in Kramerview. Confused and not wanting to go all the way to a location in Jet Park that I had yet to confirm the address of, I tried phoning them. Not ONE of the numbers on their contact page worked!!!!! I asked a friend who used to work for Core if she could find out for sure whether I was able to take the machine in to an iStore, and she said I could, so I took it to Clearwater and booked it in all officially etc. A few days later I phoned all the numbers I could find for the technical center to see how far they were to solving my problem, and was told that the machine wasn’t even booked in yet, despite the iStore having said that they have a daily courier service between all iStores and the technical center. I then began many frustrating days of trying to get through to Core and simply not succeeding. I was given an email address for a supposed “Nuno” who I wrote an email to, only to have it bounce as he doesn’t really exist. I had a security guard answer a phone after ten minutes on hold only to tell me that I must phone back in ten minutes because nobody was there and that he was just a security guard and I must not get cross with him. Not there?? In the middle of the day?

I’m sure you can appreciate how I was feeling about Core (and Apple in general) at this stage. Pretty damn furious. And that aside, if you have a Mac or a job then you will appreciate either how much I was hating not having a Mac, or how much my work was being negatively affected by not having a proper machine to work on.

I finally managed to get hold of Core and was told me that a quote had been sent to the iStore many days ago. Thanks iStore, don’t bother phoning me or anything. I’m sure my sensors will just figure this one out for themselves. I told them that being sent a quote was crap and that they didn’t need a proof of purchase when they were being told quite clearly by Apples own website that the machine is under warranty until 2010. I was told they would let the technician know. I wasn’t told that this was code for “thanks a lot sir now you can begin another four week wait during which you have no idea what’s happening as you can’t get hold of us.”. But that’s what happened.

Tick, tock.

When you reach this point you become stuck as to what, if anything, you can do about it. I thought about Hello Peter‘ing them but decided that this wasn’t going to make any difference with a company that clearly gives rocks for whether they have unhappy clients or are providing an even vaguely decent service. Besides, enough people had already complained there, and they were mostly all still unhappy. Stuck as to what my plan was, I dreamed up different ways for them to die, and made some of these public (on every social network that I’m on thanks to ping.fm).

And what an excellent plan that was, as I was immediately given the attention of the first of two of the only one decent people to work at Core. In an email I told him: “I don’t have the energy or time to baby such a large collection of incompetent people, so who knows how long this is going to take if you or somebody else there isn’t able to help. As much as I love my Mac, and you must understand… I really really love it, this kind of situation is going to play a large part in deciding whether or not I spend another R30 000 in a few years when it’s time for my next machine. It’s _really_ bad service!!!!”. This was only sent to him at around midday, and yet that very same day he had managed to track down on their side what the story was, make a decision on whether they could help me or not, and what help they’d give me, get the second decent person who works there to fix the thing and have him phone me to find out whether I wanted a certain partition on that machine and finally to have him reinstall Leopard on my machine. Very impressive! My problem was immediately solved. It took another three or four days for the machine to return to the iStore, but I was happy to be able to fetch it on Friday after work, despite the time being 20h00… yes, 8 o’clock in the evening.

After all of that I hadn’t wanted to spend any more of my life wasting time with Core, as I just did by writing this post, but if it’s going to help make up the mind of a potential purchaser of a Mac who doesn’t really have R30 000 to spend on a laptop but has been told really good things about Macs, then I guess it wasn’t that much of a waste of time.

3 thoughts on “Bad Apples

  1. Subject: Tried to comment on your blog
    Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2009 13:16:15 +0200
    From: “Steve Davies”
    To: “Charles Leaver”

    Hi Charles,

    I have also had a difficult experience with Core and Project 3 over a Macbook Pro with a failed GPU. (In my view every Macbook Pro with 8600M chip that is used seriously is likely to fail or has already failed!)

    In my case my unit had the “wrong” symptoms so that was taken as a get-out-of-your-responsibilities-free ticket and they wouldn’t fix it. I argued my case as hard as I could and with everyone I could find including Paul Damhuis, Applecare manager for South Africa. In the end I was at a dead end so I collected my system and took it home again. There as a last ditch I powered it up and lo-and-behold managed to induce the “right” symptoms. Proof that God is there and wants me to have a working Macbook Pro 😉 I made a video showing the expected behaviour (blank screen, no external video, but system otherwise running), then took it immediately back and managed to show them the right symptoms on the bench. So in the end I got it fixed.

    I did post the story at http://www.macgeek.co.za/2008/07/16/repairing-a-macbook-in-south-africa

    It was a very unhappy experience – no question a Macbook Pro is a high-end luxury product and Core’s after-care service falls far short of the quality experience that it should be.

    Regards,
    Steve

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