Last week while sitting in Studio F on Microsoft’s Redmond campus, I knew something was wrong with my Macbook Pro. The computer would lock up periodically, wouldn’t reboot, wouldn’t stay working, and had somehow found a knack for annoying me on a day when I should have been having fun with friends while learning about super secret stuff I can’t write about. After dismissing the “Bad gas” explanation (well, it was powered by a power outlet owned by Microsoft), I did a few diagnostics, and nursed it through the rest of the day. The next day I didn’t use it much, but still had problems, and by the time I was sitting in Seatac Airport with Don trying to show him Bible Fruit, it was stuttering worse than something non-offensive that stutters a lot. Over the weekend, I brought it home, re-installed OS X, and it seemed like it had started to work again. I breathed a sigh of relief.
I should mention at this point that I absolutely hate fixing computers. I’m pretty good at it, but I really don’t enjoy working with computers when they’re broken. I don’t enjoy the “hunt” for the problem, and I don’t find working with other people’s computers in any way “exciting”. I sold all of my tower and desktop systems years ago so I wouldn’t have to deal with the temptation to upgrade, and I buy $300 service plans that include “accidental damage” whenever I buy a laptop. I don’t want to be bothered by repairs, I’m a busy man. So when I got to work on Monday, ready to start a brand new week of exciting psychological stuff, I was really annoyed to find that my Macbook wouldn’t work for more than 20 minutes every 3 hours. I reluctantly made an appointment at the Genius bar for 2:15, and took out my “spare” machine at work (an IBM Thinkpad that, while it was under warranty, was at the shop 3 times to fix the same issue!).
Now I’m the sort of guy who is always expecting a problem with my computer repairs. Mostly because I’ve been through the routine before. A bad hard drive to experienced technicians might be interpreted by script-readers / novices as “Eh, maybe it’s the OS, let’s wipe it, reinstall, and send him home with it” (Which of course just brings me back more irate later). The next step might be even more asinine and onward until they finally deem it’s time to install a new Hard Drive. I really hate when my errors aren’t easily reproducible (This one wasn’t – the device would boot if powered down for an hour or so, then stop working 20 minutes later, so at a glance it looked fine). But I figured maybe the Geniuses would take pity on me. After all, they were quick to swap out my iPad when my first-gen got a stuck line of cyan pixels a few months back.
So at 2:07 I arrive at the Apple Store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, only to be greeted by a 20 minute wait PAST my appointment time (I was not happy when one of the techs started calling 2:30 appointments while I stood there, something he realized when one of the “coordinators” in front of the desk walked up to him and told him). I finally got seated across from a nice young Genius named Frances, who spoke quickly and gave me the impression that while what I was saying made sense (i.e., it was English), she wanted to make her own diagnosis. Thankfully after 5 minutes, she realized her diagnosis was the same as mine. And here is where the real magic comes in – she set up the repair at 2:45 and I was able to pick up my freshly hard drive replaced Macbook at 3:50. No problems to report on it yet, thankfully. So in this case, while I wasn’t 100% thrilled with AppleCare service at the Apple Store (I did have to wait 20 minutes, and Frances did look pretty forlorn as I told her what I’d observed – of course it was at the end of the day, so that’s to be expected), it was a lot better than it could have been with other companies / services (Definitely better than my experience with IBM Service Hell in November 2007). While some people claim that Mac users give praise to Apple out of blind loyalty, I gotta hand it to the Geniuses – they are genuinely friendly, seem well trained, and know how to make a computer geek happy – by getting his machine back to him, fixed, in just a little over an hour.