Of course it’s only my opinion, but to me, that’s all that matters. Self centered? Maybe. But I think I am the person to determine what I find acceptable to me. What follows is my short assessment of what I have observed in the recent months about the cute company called Apple.
An eon ago, I bought the lamp shaped iMac. At the time I was interested in any and all operating systems and alternatives to Microsoft at all costs. I found the iMac on eBay for $1200. I found no use for the machine other than using it to logon to chat networks and utilize the machine that way. I didn’t like the way the text editors worked in that their keystrokes were completely foreign to what I am familiar. All that aside, I didn’t use it all that much. One day, the hard drive was gone – I replaced it with an IDE drive I had and got the machine working again. Had to use those “star” tools to get in there and such, but I was able to get everything working as it should. Sorry for this tangent, but I wanted to explain that I am not new to Apple, I just tried it out and didn’t get “into it” at the time.
I don’t know how, but over the course of time I became more and more accepting of the Mac and was getting used to seeing many of the examples of the things I was getting into done on the Mac. Mostly web development and programming stuff. I also do graphics and video stuff, and the Mac is heavily used there as well. YouTube came popular and the Mac became popular on there as well as many people started making their movies obviously on a Mac. So I decided to give it another try with the latest and greatest Macs.
I was shopping a particular web job and I was thinking of getting back into the publishing of a local paper here in Philly and I thought that I should move toward the Mac. I especially liked some text editors that were now available for the Mac so I researched it up and decided on the Black Mac. It had everything I thought would be satisfactory when it came to development, portability and enjoyment from one machine.
So I start tweaking out the machine and then I determine that the built in iSight camera makes an 8k whistle while recording a video. The microphone itself is fine after testing in GarageBand, just in iMovie when making a movie and it is determined that the auto brightness of the camera affects the squeal. I made a movie about it and posted it on YouTube. For me this is a deal breaker as I had planned to use the machine to make videos for YouTube. I haven’t yet, but I am leaving the option open. I had noticed this squeal/whistle on YouTube members videos, but thought it was something that they must have done to cause it. Either leaving the speakers on while recording or some such option that they wouldn’t have noticed that I surely would have. No, it’s just a faulty piece of hardware, so I took it back and complained.
I first called Apple and went through their tech support. That took a long time and eventually I went to level 2 support. While it wasn’t resolved, I figured it was the problem and made the YouTube video and from the responses in forums et al., it didn’t seem there was any relief. Because of other issues, I decided to return the Black Mac and get a McBook Pro. The tech support guy from Apple was supposed to call me on Thursday (what the wait was, I don’t know) and mentioning Thursday to you without telling what day it was that I called doesn’t matter, cause Thursday is as arbitrary a day as there is from whatever day I was calling originally. It has never been resolved.
So after calling ahead to the Apple store, they said they had in stock the MacBook Pro 17″ with the high res screen upgrade. While this is the case, it was not. The high res screen upgrade was $100 on the web site. The one the Apple Store had in stock was the one with the upgraded screen, hard drive and CPU making it the most expensive iMac sold (and I venture to say EVER sold) but they’re much cheaper now and you get more. I wanted to up to 4G RAM, but I would have to pick up the machine the next day. I obviously wanted to leave with the thing. I also got the Apple Care, an extra keyboard and mouse (both wired) for when I put the big screen dual monitor setup into play. That works out well by the way.
So, this was two trips ever in my life to the Apple store. First time to purchase the Black MacBook and second time to return it and upgrade to the MacBook Pro. Both times I hooked up quickly with someone and was taken care of, it seemed like a normal store-like experience although an Apple store is nothing normal. They waived the “restocking fee” on the Black Mac due to the faulty camera whistle squeal thing. A defective MacBook. It took a while for me to convince the “expert” that there was in fact an 8k whistle (I RTA’d it).
The MacBook Pro has performed as a champ. Lots of nifty features to it and it’s blazing fast. The screen is incredible. Using split screen works wonderfully. I’ve developed several web sites on it as well as produced the publication on it twice thus far. My only complaint as of this date is the lack of keys. There are many keys I would like to use for when I am SSH’d into a machine where use of the F keys would be nice without having to alter my MacBook Pro keys but I have had to do that. The Page Up/Down situation where most times the Fn option works, but many times it does not and some files online tend to be a bit large so it’s a time waster. So that’s it really, is the keys … they could have added another row or something I think. I think it would make a lot of people happy.
Okay, maybe I have more than one complaint. My second complaint is my biggest. About a month later, all the Macs were upgraded. Doesn’t matter that I spent all this money on this particular machine. It’s past 14 days. Sorry. The new MacBook Pro comes with 4G of RAM now. Sigh. To me, it’s bullshit that I wasnt’ notified that this was the case before I spent this much money on something. I can’t even sell it to buy the new one as people can get the new one themselves. I would feel guilty duping someone. I can’t believe Apple doesn’t give a crap that they basically ripped me off. Thank you, please give us more money.
Money aside, I was happy with the nifty bells and whistles that Apple has with their ease of use and their commercials, etc., and was into the iPhone and couldn’t wait until I could renew my contract to get one. That’s 18 months between AT&T renewals. I was getting farther and farther awat from Microsoft and their horrible ways, their monopoly and their power over me to use particular hardware and software to accomplish various things. Blah!
So boom! I get the iPhone and immediately after another iPhone user checks it out he says the Home button is messed up. So I check it out and mess with it and once again, who wants to take something back that they just got. I try to justify that it works fine for me even though once and a while it doesn’t work. Maybe it needs to be worn in? More rationalization. Reality; it’s not working properly, return it. I take the iPhone back to AT&T the very next day. After signing in and waiting, AT&T will swap it but I will have to pay a 10% restocking fee. (On a defective iPhone that I got 24 hours ago). So instead of paying that, I drove to the Apple store to save the 10% restocking fee. On the way over, I used the iPhone to call Apple and verify that AT&T couldn’t swap my phone and that the Apple store wouldn’t have a problem. Yeah, they would take care of it. AT&T doesn’t hold as high a standard in excellence or some crap like that was why it was explained that I would have had to pay a restocking fee with AT&T.
I get to the Apple store and I don’t have a “reservation” so I am going to go “standby” to wait for a “technician” … Uhm, what? My phone broke – give me new one – I say bye bye. Nope. Not even close. I stood there for over an hour. Yeah, I browsed a little bit first, but for being such a huge store, there isn’t a lot there. Remeber I told you it was a weird store? Let me explain.
In an Apple Store, there’s nothing higher than your waist. The entire store is tables. You can see corner to corner nothing blocking your view in the entire store. There is merchandise hanging on the walls closer to the back wall which is lined with their customer service-ish type counter. There is a table with iMacs on it where kids can mess with them. You sit on rubber balls if you’re so inclined. And the tables further towards the back have shelves with the keyboards and mice on them.
The counter is where I paid for both MacBooks and where I stood to finally talk to Eric about my iPhone. I had already decided while waiting that I wasn’t going to buy an accessory for the iPhone. I was upset with this incredible wait. I even had a guy come up to me and ask if I needed help and I said that the girl took my name, etc. and he said oh, okay. So, he had nothing to do, but I was still standing there. At one point, there was about 6 Apple employees standing in and around the iMac that they used to “book” people and some were just BSing and another was texting on his iPhone (I bet his Home button worked). That sort of broke up after some time, then I saw the girl who took my name leave with her coat on taking her break.
Finally the overly happy “concierge” as they call them, said that Eric would be happy to deal with me. Eric said that my Home button problem wasn’t as I described “defective”. I told him that anyone who held my iPhone agreed it was defective and every iPhone in the AT&T store and the Apple Store responded differently than the iPhone that I got yesterday. He said that may be the case, but the button worked. And I said not all the time. And he said that it wasn’t broken, that he could have a technician look at it. I said what is a tech gonna do? It’s defective and gave some examples about broken things and he finally gave in to granting my request for a replacement. It was far too much work, effort and emotion to reach the desired result that in my opinion was obvious.
So why my title to this anecdote? I stood in that Apple store watching the activity going on and had much time to think and observe. I saw many people come and go with problems. I saw people being schooled about using Macs, one an elderly woman. I don’t know, is that free? Maybe, or maybe you can purchase courses via their website? I don’t know, I wasn’t looking for a course. Anyway, I started hearing the silly problems. Then the trivial. I started thinking that more and more people are going to be buying the Macs due to the nifty bells and whistles and the commercials. Where Macs for the most part have been the choice of developers and high end graphics people, now elderly women are “learning” how to use Macs and the general population as whole are starting to buy Macs. They’re told that they’re much simpler, etc., but the fact remains that the gen pop as a whole ain’ta so smart when it comes to these technical thingamabobs. There will be more of the silly and trivial problems.
Then, with my problem is the quality. Eric kept telling me that the Home button worked and that there was no “spec” for it being deemed defective or not. I was like “spec?” are you kidding me. It’s not a spec, it’s obviously defective. Touch every iPhone in use on the planet and then touch mine. I’m sorry, I didn’t know when I bought it cause I never had one before and I wasn’t familiar enough about the Home button to know the difference. Now I’m a Home button expert. But the other ssues is that it’s proprietary. What’s plastic may be cool cause it’s all Apple baby, but it’s plastic and it does break. You can’t go to CircuitCity or Best Buy and fix it up, you have to go to Apple or you have to ship to Apple. What to do if there’s no “spec” on whether your Apple hardware is defective or not? Well, if Eric had his way and I would have accepted his answer, I would have been out a lot of money, again.
They got me on the MacBook Pro and they almost got me on the iPhone. How many people don’t put up a fight or know enough to know that they’re in the right? Having more and more people show up to Apple’s stores and not taking them in a list order or something or having a better mechanism to address people is going to seriously crush them. It’s soured me big time. If anyone knows anything about retail, you make the problems go away first. What would have happened if I had started to share my own opinion with those other Apple customers? What if I were to go down home negative and start pointing out the obvious? When that little ol’ lady says she’s just trying it out to see if she can do some things on the computer, maybe I can chime in that she could save a substantial amount of money if she went to Best Buy. Old people like saving money.
Finally, YES! This is just my opinion. These are certainly things I feel strongly about, but these are things I choose to live with … Because my result is favorable, I can rationalize and accept certain things, but the more the same thing happens, the more that I think that I might think differently in the future. Here’s hoping that Apple can change for the better and not keep screwing people like me.