Dear Apple: This is Not Good Enough

Dear Apple,

Just under a year ago we bought a MacBook Air for my son Oliver. He was 11 at the time; he’s 12 now. It’s a great little machine, and it served him well in school all year long. I refer to it as his “prosthetic device,” as it’s an invaluable tool for almost everything he does.

We bought the computer from Little Mac Shoppe, an authorized Apple dealer and service centre here in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. It would have been easier and faster and maybe even a little cheaper to buy it online, or to buy it from a big-box store at the edge of town, but we wanted to support our local dealer, and as it was steps from both our home and my office we knew that service would never be far away.

Unfortunately a few months after we bought the MacBook, the Little Mac Shoppe went out of business; we were sad to see them go, but rested easy in the notion that Apple’s world-class support would keep us going if anything went wrong during our 1-year warranty period. Several earlier experiences with Apple support had been universally positive, and I’d no reason to suspect that this had changed, Little Mac Shoppe or no.

Flashing Question MarkYesterday afternoon Oliver went to turn on his MacBook and was faced with a grey screen and a flashing question mark inside a folder; the computer wouldn’t boot.

After trying the recommended steps on your support website, I contacted your 1-800 number, as I knew it was still under warranty and it seemed pretty clear it was a hardware issue.

At first the technician I talked to said he couldn’t help me: I needed to take the MacBook to an Apple store for diagnosis and possible repair. When I explained the the nearest Apple Store is 4 hours away in Halifax, Nova Scotia he put me on hold, and he came back a few moments later and said he’d received special permission to help me because of this.

The tech guided me through the same steps I’d already followed online, and at the end of this process he confirmed that this was likely a hardware issue, and that I should take the MacBook into the Apple Store in Halifax for repair.

When I asked if there was another option available to me – a mail-in repair, for example – I was told this wasn’t possible in Canada, and that my only recourse was to drive the 4 hours to Halifax where the repair could be done while I waited. He advised to call before leaving to confirm that the part was in stock.

So tonight I called the Apple Store in Halifax to confirm that the required part was in stock.

And  I was told that they cannot confirm whether parts are in stock over the phone, and that my only recourse was to come to the store and hope for the best. When I explained that this could mean driving for 4 hours in each direction for nothing, I was offered no recourse.

Wanting to avoid the chance of driving to Halifax for nothing, I called Apple Support again, and talked to a very friendly fellow who, on hearing my story, sympathized with my plight, and said there would be no problem doing a mail-in repair: I’d receive a pre-paid box to ship the MacBook in, and it would be quickly couriered back to me.

Then he took my postal code and his system told him that a mail-in repair wouldn’t be possible. He put me on hold to consult with someone else and when he came back he confirmed that no mail-in option was available because of where I was located (he wasn’t clear whether this meant where in Canada, or simply that mail-in repairs weren’t available in Canada at all).

He offered, as an alternative to driving to Halifax, the option of driving to Moncton, New Brunswick to Jump+, an authorized service depot. He assured me that depots like this can order parts in advance so as long, as I called before I came, I could make sure the trip wasn’t for nothing.

So I called Jump+. Spoke to a very helpful fellow who told me that they don’t generally order parts in advance, but because I was a long drive away they could make an exception, but that they could only hold the part “on lawaway” for 24 hours before it would need to be returned, so I’d have to specify exactly when I’d be coming. I was told that the service technician would call me in the morning, but cautioned that he might not do this because he’s very busy, and I might need to call him.

So, right now, that’s the working plan.

This isn’t good enough.

You sold me something that broke. It’s your fault. I have a warranty. Based on previous experiences I expected you to honour that warranty quickly and painlessly.

What’s changed?

As a company concerned with service and the customer experience to the extent that you are, two phone calls, a variety of stories, and a “definitely maybe” in Moncton simply isn’t enough: you should be working hard to help me help my 12 year old son (a son who’s now worried that his laptop won’t be fixed before school starts).

All of this leaves me with a bad impression of Apple, writing a bad-impression-of-Apple blog post that I would rather not be writing.

If you’d like to make this right, my case number is 490920122; I will happily write a “wow, Apple knocked my socks off” blog post when you come through.

Your friend and longtime-admirer,

Postcript: Read This is Mac calling from the Office of Tim Cook to see how Apple did come through.


David's picture
David on August 13, 2013 - 14:39

You should inquire whether or not (if you’re still within the first year) getting AppleCare will allow you to mail it in. Mail-in is available in Canada — I think the problem used to be where UPS (or their sole-source courier) doesn’t do local service.

Having worked for them before, you may save yourself some $ on travel and extend the warranty a little further. Alternatively, shipping it to a friend in one of those cities to walk it in for service might help too.

Lori's picture
Lori on August 13, 2013 - 15:19

Oh, Peter. That’s awful customer service. And on a purely personal note, you’re not making my computer buying decisions any easier. Our two daughters own Macs (with one also serving as a “prosthetic device”) both of which will have to be replaced soon. With the unfortunate demise of the Little Mac Shoppe, I have been hesitant to purchase Macs again, as much as we have loved the product.
Please keep us posted on this saga.

Chris Vessey's picture
Chris Vessey on April 28, 2014 - 19:21

Methinks Combat Computers is now an Apple Authorized Service Centre, no?

Mario's picture
Mario on October 2, 2014 - 18:26

Hi every body,
I am in PEI for one or two months work. at the first week my lovely MAC HD gone, with all my one month hardly work. fortunately and because of experience and probability I took my PC with me too with few copy of my Mac documents. there is no one to fix or give me HD!!!!
I love PEI and for me it is like 40 years back Swiss but too far from today's technology and facility...

Tomek Obirek's picture
Tomek Obirek on February 23, 2015 - 07:03

We can help you.
I own an Authorized Apple store in Halifax -
Please contact us, we can arrange a pickup of your Apple device for repair.

Stephen's picture
Stephen on June 18, 2015 - 15:15

Hi there! I stumbled onto your post while looking for an authorized service centre in Saint John. I see that your post is a little older now, so I hope that things worked out in the end.

I bought my sister a refurbished Macbook Air last year, and it has 25 days of warranty left, and some sort of battery swelling problem, or so I'm told. I imagine that I will have to pick it up and drive to Moncton to have Jump+ take a look at it. We're closer than you are, but it's still a pain to drive 2 hours and not know for sure if they're going to have the parts. The mailing option would be pretty handy!

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