The large SharQ versus Apple battle.
January 25, 2003
My beloved iBook
took a nosedive, with lots of lines in various colours across the screen. "uh-oh", I immediately thought, and discovered that I was probably the victim of the dreaded ibook-screen-hinge-problem.
But that is not a problem! Apple are such a friendly crowd that they should be able to help me out without much trouble, i thought.
So I call them
- Uh, hello, is that Apple customer service
- It is indeed, how can I help you?
- Well, I seem to have a hardware problem
with my iBook
- Right, where did you buy your iBook?
- Maxicon. Norway
- Oh. Right. Lemme see.
(20 minutes later, having explained the problem thoroughly, and managed to convince them that it was, indeed, a hardware problem, and not anything else)
- Well, that is in order then. We will send out a courier to come pick up your computer.
- Great! Thanks!
- Oh, hang on. Is there any cosmetical damage
- Well, uh, there are some scrathes on the lid and bottom, from regular use, and I got a few stickers on the sides of the screen, but nothing really. Oh, yeah, the headphones port is broken.
- Well, if that is the case: Would you like us to fix it? It will cost you some money. I can look up how much it will be?
- Nah, that's okay. If you can fix the headphones port
for less than £30, then go for it, otherwise, no thanks.
January 31, 2001
I get a phone call from Apple, while I am in the middle of a photo shoot.
- Uhmm, we cannot send out a box to you. Because the headphones port is broken, and that was your own doing. It is not covered under the warranty
- Err. Okay, just repair the port, then, I'll pay for it, and then repair the screen
- We can't do that.
- You see, we have to repair the whole machine if we take it in under warranty, and the headphones port is not under warranty
- But I just told you, repair the headphones port, and then do the warranty job
- But we have a fixed price on these repairs
- Go on
- It is £600
- That is the price we take for repairing things like the headphones port
- That is preposterous. Can I call you back later? I am in the middle of a photo shoot, and the models are getting annoyed with me.
- Sure. Byyyyyeeeee.
, I sit down that evening and write a letter to Apple computers: (this has been posted in a different daylog before, but I am putting everything here, for closure)
Warranty repair, Apple iBook
Customer ID: XXXX XXX XXXXXX
Case ID: XXXX XXXX
Dear Sir or Madam:
I called Apple Support on Wednesday January 29th, because of a problem with my Apple iBook. The problem is with the screen on the iBook: It either stays off when I turn on the computer, or it works for a very short period of time (6-7 minutes), before it gets a large number of lines through the display, completely obscuring everything on-screen, effectively rendering the laptop useless.
When I called Apple Support, I was informed that this was a warranty issue, and that I would be able to get it repaired for free. The tech representativeproceeded to ask if there were any scratches on the machine itself, and if I would want those repaired as well. I replied that the scratches were minimal, and therefore not a problem, but that the headphones jack on my iBook was broken:
The headphones port design
I believe Apple computers have made a major blunder with the design of the headphones port. My first Ibook had a nice, sturdy, metal mini-jack hole, which served me well for a long time. Unfortunately, this iBook was stolen, which was why I upgraded to a 700 MHz iBook.
I was surprised to find a flimsy-looking plastic headphones port, and called Apple right away, in case there was something wrong with the computer. I was assured that the port had just been redesigned, and that there was nothing to worry about.
Of course this was not true, and within a few weeks, the headphone jack port broke because of a clumsy encounter with a cable that was stretched across the floor. The headphone jack still works, but the connection is a bit loose. Not wanting to miss my computer because of the repair time, I started using an USB device (iMic) instead, giving me a new headphones and line in- and out ports.
Back to the problem
When I explained this to the tech support rep, he said that this problem would mean that they would have to replace the motherboard of the laptop. I told him that would not be necessary, as I already had a solution.
The tech rep promised me to send out a courier right away, so I would have a box for returning my laptop to Apple on Friday at the latest.
Today is Friday, and I received a telephone call from Apple customer relations. According to the lady, in order to get the screen repaired, I would have to let the computer be fully serviced. Including the headphones jack. But, because the damaged headphones jack was my own fault, I would have to pay the flat-rate for repairs. Which is a full £600.
So I told her that I would prefer to not have the headphones jack repaired – as I had already instructed the tech rep. However, she said that this would be impossible. Either I would have to get the whole laptop serviced, and pay the £ 600, or Apple Customer Service would not be able to help me. I was kindly instructed to get my laptop repaired elsewhere.
The way I see it, this is a very cheap trick from Apple Computers, to avoid having to pay the expenses of repairing the laptop. I have never mistreated the computer in any way, and the headphones jack is still in working order, but it has trouble holding the plugs in place. So, because of a design flaw on apple’s side, I have now been instructed to pay £600 for a 3 square millimetres piece of plastic that I do not need, in order to get the monitor repaired.
I hope you realise the absurdity of that situation, and I also hope that you realise and understand why I will not stand being treated like this as a customer. I would suggest you reconsider the situation, and that you take the computer in for warranty repair as soon as possible.
I get another phonecall from Apple
- Hello, is this mr Kamps?
- Yes it is. I take it you got my letter?
- Yes we did. Unfortunately, we cannot help you. We are legally required to repair everything when we start a warranty repair, and unfortunately, the damage you caused to the computer makes us unable to actually commence the warranty repair
- So you will have to pay for the repair of the headphones port
- Oh, I was planning to do that all along. How much?
- But that is insane! It is just a piece of plastic
- I know it might sound a little steep, but that is our standard pricing, unfortunately.
- So the only way I can get the thing repaired is to pay £600 for a repair I don't want?
- It saddens me that you think about it that way
- Well it saddens me that you are forcing me to pay six hundred quid for something that shouldn't even be a question.
- Sorry, there is nothing we can do.
- Well, I might call you back
February 5 (later that day)
I spend most of the day on E2 and the net, trying to find out what the law in the UK says about things like this. Lemme tell you this: UK legal jargon
is even more horrendous than Norwegian legal jargon.
My search comes up with nothing exciting, unfortunately, and I am starting to prepare to have to call my insurance, to see if they will cover it. They probably won't, because they will wonder why Apple
did not repair it under warranty. Apple will say it is my fault, and my insurance company will tell me to go do something anatomically impossible
So, I call the shop where I bought the computer. You see, in Norway the law says (effectively), that "anything that is supposed to last significantly longer than three years automatically has a one year warranty against manufacturing damages" Which in my case (the computer was only 5 months old) is good news.
Mid February 2003:
Initial response from Maxicon
- Well, I think we should handle this case from Norway. Is there any way you can get the laptop to a location in Norway, and have it sent on from there?
Oh, joy. This means: Send the computer from the UK to my parents in Oslo, Norway, who would have to send the computer across the country, to Bergen. Who would have to send it to Apple Norway, which is basically next door to my Parents' house. Whom would send the computer for repair in Ireland (which is basically next door to my house in the UK) or germany. Who would send it to Apple Norway, who would send it to Bergen, who would send it to my parents in Oslo, who would send it to me in the UK.
Note that the computer would pass through customs at least 4 times, with all the delays that would mean.
However, Maxicon, being quite cool, contacted Apple Norway directly with my case, and complained. After a few days, the chief repair technician at Apple Scandinavia had cleared my case, and said it would be repaired under warranty.
Beginning of March 2003
: But, eh, you don't even LIVE in scandinavia
SharQ: No, I never claimed I did. But the computer was purchased there.
A: Well, then you have to take the discussion with Apple UK
S: Not quite. I tried, and they said it wouldn't be under warranty.
A: Not sure if we can help you then. I will contact my colleague in the UK, to see what we can do for you
S: *sigh* Thanks.
A: Hey, mr. SharQ! I have managed to talk mr Apple Service Technician UK into repairing the computer under warranty. Just contact him directly, and he will instruct you.
So I call Mr AST UK
- Hello! AST Scandinavia told me to call you
- Oh yes, that is right. You need to call AppleCare UK, and arrange for them to come pick up the computer.
- All right
So I call AppleCare UK
- Uhmm, no, we cannot send out for the computer, you need to go to an authorised Apple Service Centre
- uh, but mr AST UK told me that it would be okay?
- No, that's not the way we do it. You have to take your computer to an authorised Apple Service Centre
- All right.
So I call an Apple Service Centre
- Uhmm, no I think you must have been misinformed. We only repair desktop computers here. You are more than welcome to drop off your iBook, but we will only send it to apple ourselves.
So I call AppleCare UK
- Yes, indeed, we need to send out a courier to come pick up your iBook. The previous customer service person you spoke to must have been new and uninformed about the procedures. Is your product under warranty? Okay, then. I will send out a box.
Just as I put the phone down, Apple Service Centre
calls me again
- Look, I called Mr AST UK, and he cleared us to take in the computer. Can you come drop it off here?
- But you are 12 miles away!
- Well, we are the closest one to your house
- All right then
So I get in the train, and take a cab to Apple Service Warrington
. It takes the best part of the afternoon.
Two weeks later (March 20, 2003)
- Hello, this is from AS Warrington. We have an iBook here, that is repaired. Can you come pick it up?
- Can you send it by courier? I'll pay for it
- Sure, no problem.
So I give them my credit card details.
March 21, 2001
My ibook arrives in Liverpool, two months after it broke.
The note from the service technician: "Replaced faulthy motherboard". Which fixed the screen as well. (i.e there was nothing wrong with the screen)
And guess what? The headphones port was part of the motherboard, so they replaced that as well. Free of charge.
In total, I paid approximately £50 in phonecalls, £20 in cab and train tickets and £20 in courier fees. It took me 2 months to save £500 pound. ANd I am happy. I think. But chances are I will never buy a macintosh again.
The End (i hope)