I admit it. I have been an Apple fanboy for as long as I can remember. My first computer was a Mac, back in the days when screens were black and white and the smiling Mac icon stared you in the face. When I just graduated from college, and really shouldn't be splurging on expensive computers, I made do with a Mac clone (remember those?). In recent years, I have had three functioning Apple computers at the same time, plus ipods, iPhones, etc. While the prices are high, I have always appreciated the quality and the customer service.
Unfortunately, those two issues are now making me rethink my relationship with Apple. The situation is still developing. The short version is I'm trying to locate my old hard drive that was replaced during repairs (done three days ago and counting.) Anyone knows what I should do to make this happen, please let me know! If I don't get my drive back, a chunk of the history of Junk Charts will be gone, as I have only backed up portions of it... the sketches, notes, data sets, etc. that came before the posts here will be gone, forever.
The saga began with my MacBook Pro not booting up. The laptop serviced me well for five years. I never once had any repairs, except for buying new batteries. Last weekend, the screen went black but it still partially booted. This itself was curious as my prior iBook also had no issues for five years and then died. Given that Apple officially considers models as obsolete after five years (or did the "genius" say six years?), it is a little suspicious the timing of when these laptops got heart attacks. It's only a sample size of two. In any case, I wish the customer service rep could pull up a screen and see my collection of Apple computers and realize he didn't need to sell me a new laptop -- I already bought a new one a couple of years ago.
The "genius" did what he was supposed to do. Explain the legalese to wash Apple's hands after they wipe out all of your data. My choice was spending hundreds of dollars and time to extract a few months' of work that weren't backed up, or take a small chance that the hard drive would be replaced. The "genius" and I both heard the spinning of the hard drive, and felt it was unlikely to need fixing.
Of course, when the computer got sent back (after only 3 days!) to me, I saw the ominous note saying "the following parts were replaced: logic board, hard drive". The "symptom" that led to replacing the hard drive was listed as "hard drive not recognized/mount". That indicated to me the hard drive itself was fine, and maybe with luck I could get it back, plug it into a different device, and retrieve the lost data.
The day after I received the shipment, I called the number listed on the repair report. They told me to call the Soho store manager as that's where my request would be handled. I called them, they searched around a bit, and told me that the repair work was done elsewhere (Houston, TX, according to the report), and so I was asked to leave my phone number for a store manager to call me back.
Since time is of the essence, I just showed up at the store the next morning. In the intervening hours, I didn't get a call back. The people at the store were nice, and told me they had put in a request, and in a few days, I could call and check the result. I felt reasonably happy.
Oddly, within five minutes of walking out of the store, I got a call from another person from the store, who said she was calling about the message I left the previous day. She insisted on talking to me about the case even though I told her it's been taken care of by the people I just spoke to.
Then came a conversation that I'd remember in the future as the moment of my breakup with Apple. In many ways, it's typical customer service of most American companies today but I hold Apple to higher standards, since I'm a fanboy, I know they (used to) have better service, and I paid a lot of money for my computers.
Here are some highlights:
- She claimed that her colleagues were completely wrong. According to some "notes" (which she later claimed came from an eCRM system), the technicians erased my hard drive, and therefore there was nothing they could do about my situation.
- When I told her the repair report specifically said "the following parts were replaced", she said she wouldn't believe it. She wanted me to walk the sheet of paper over to her at the store to prove it.
- She refused to put any of her various comments in writing.
- She told me no one ever get hard drives retrieved whether or not they were erased or replaced. (Amusingly, no other Apple employee whom I spoke to during this saga mentioned this pertinent "fact".) She back-tracked when I told her I knew people who got their drives back.
- I asked her then how she could figure out what happened just by reading "notes" without talking to anyone. She started reading the note to me. I did not hear the words "erase the hard drive". It just said "OS was clean installed"; you would have to do that if a new drive was plugged in anyway.
- I asked her to forward the "notes" she's reading, she said she couldn't. She said she would give me her name. I asked how that was going to help if she later denied telling me any of the above.
- I asked her if someone at the store has spoken to the person who did the repair work, she said they were not allowed to.
It didn't take her long to pull out the "terms and conditions" scam. Oh, the store warned us that there would be a chance the data would be wiped out. I explained to her that the chance was low and that's why I went ahead. In addition, the "genius" discussed replacing the hard drive, not erasing and writing over the old data. She lectured me on how I should never take any risk, even if it's a 1 percent chance. I asked her if she'd walk out of her home because there is a small chance you could get hit by a car. She said that was irrelevant.
Now, she was threatening to hang up on me. This was because I disrespected her. How did I disrespect her? I described the "terms and conditions" as "legal bullshit". She said the word was unacceptable, and she threatened to hang up again.
All this time, I don't understand why she would not let the process run its course. The other guy has already submitted a request. She called back one other time, again to convince me that the data is wiped out, and wanted to put an engineer on the phone to explain the reasoning they used to infer that.
She offered to waive the fees for my repair. But she completely misread the situation. I had even offered to pay for shipping to get my old drive back, in addition to paying for the repair work.
She now asserted that everyone else who have looked at this case was wrong. The repair report was wrong. Her interpretation of the "notes" was right. She apologized for all the other people who got it wrong.
I'll learn in a few days if my data will be forever lost. It's funny how it is: if this kind of thing happens, it erodes your relationship with the brand. When in the past I convinced myself that I'm paying for quality and better customer service, the next time I'm buying a new computer, my evaluation of Apple would have suffered in those respects.