A Bit of a Rotten Apple

A Bit of a Rotten Apple

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I admit it, I’m an Apple fanatic. In my double life as a professional photographer and product reviewer, I have to use both platforms but the machine I really love is the Mac.

I’ve been buying them since that first Super Bowl ad over twenty years ago and could probably buy a nice luxury home in the Hamptons with all the cash I’ve spent on Apple gear over the years. Now that we have established that I’m not an undercover Windows agent that is just looking to bash Apple, let me tell you about a recent experience of mine.

There has been a lot of buzz in the press over the last year or so that Apple has been lowering their prices to become more competitive with Intel boxes and for the most part this is true, especially when you consider the great value those new G5 iMac’s are.

I even bought my mother in law one and got her away from Intel World.

When I was at the checkout counter at Comp USA, the perky clerk that checked me out asked me if I wanted to shell out an additional $169 for an Apple Care extended warranty. Considering how little trouble I’ve had with my Macs over the years, I just laughed and told her no thanks. Along with Mom’s iMac, I picked up an AirPort extreme card for my wife’s G5 and this is where the adventure begins. By the way, here’s a list of what adding Apple Care to your Apple products will set you back.

After reading the installation guide, I dropped the AirPort card in the G5, closed the cover and did not get wireless networking bliss immediately. I double checked everything and still no signal. I went to the online support section of the Apple website and could not find anything to solve my problem, so I gave in and called 1-800-APPL to get some help.

The person at Apple asked me for the serial number of my wife’s G5 and then after being on hold for about 5 minutes, came back to tell me that I was not eligible for phone support on this machine, which is only about five months old. After mentioning this to her, she told me that while my new Mac has a year warranty, it only has 90 days of free technical support.

My question was, how the heck would I find out if something was wrong with my computer during the warranty period if I had no access to technical support. I was told that I could take it to the nearest Apple store (32 miles away, one direction), wait in line at the “Genius Bar” and wait for an expert to talk to me, or I could give her a credit card right now for an Apple Care plan, in which case I could have a three year warranty with technical support which would “only” cost $250. Or they could do a one-time tech support call for $39, which they would charge to my card whether they solve the problem or not.

By this time I was getting a bit hostile and had to ask for a supervisor. I explained my situation and said that I was not calling for support on my G5, but on this brand new AirPort card that I just purchased. After about 20 minutes of haggling and waiting on hold, they agreed that they could tell me what I needed to know. There was a little antenna wire that is well tucked away in a G5 that I needed to plug into the AirPort card.

I felt pretty stupid at this point, but it was not very clear in the manual (no pictures of what it was supposed to look like), nor was it available on the support section of the website. Two minutes later, I was up and running and I’ll never make this mistake again!

I’m not ready to sell my Macs and go to the dark side yet, but these guys could learn a lot from Dell when it comes to support. I think that a year warranty means a year tech support, or just charge everyone $25 more for the box and give us all a three year warranty. While Apple Care is great, it is really charging a premium for the service, which in all likelihood, will only be used once or twice (if ever) during the life of the computer.

Steve Jobs could not be reached for comment.

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