I won’t be going to Cancom again.

My MacBook has died on me (update: and now it’s fixed. Logic board problem, got it back from the Apple Store in London on the 14th) I opened it up when I came downstairs on Saturday morning and it was frozen, trapped in stasis instead of downloading emails or telling me what my FaceBook friends were up to.

I rebooted, restarted email, and it froze again.

I rebooted. It froze, this time during startup.

Over the next 48 hours I tried all I could.

I booted from CD and ran system tests; I replaced the new 1Gb RAM chips with the old ones; I booted in FireWire mode and tried to seee the disk. And every time it just froze, unable to continue. The screen was unmarked and perfect, the cursor sitting there taunting me, like someone who has died suddenly and unexpectedly but retains, for a few fleeting minutes, the bloom of life.

I called Apple, since it is covered under Applecare. After thirty minutes of being told to do all the things I had already done the friendly but clearly under-trained helpdesk person advised me that it had a fault and needed repair.

This morning I packed it in its original wrapping, realising for the first time just how much the plastic resembles a shroud, and took it to the local Apple dealer, Cancom in Cambridge. They are just near the Leisure Park, on Clifton Road, off Cherry Hinton Road. Now you know where it is, stay away, because my experience was pretty rubbish.

You have to ring the bell to gain admission. At first I thought this was to deter casual theft of the Apple goodies on display, but now I think it’s to keep out the masses of Cambridge Apple users who must be so annoyed with them that they might invade the place.

The young man on the counter looked at me as I came in. I hoisted the box containing my precious, dead, machine onto the counter and said, with a wry expression ‘I’ve got a dead MacBook’. And then it all went horribly wrong, since his immediate reply was to tell me that they couldn’t do anything about it now, and to act as if I was intruding on his privacy by daring to suggest that he might want to take an interest in my problem.

I hadn’t expected him to whip out a screwdriver or attempt a Vulcan mindmeld with the laptop; I didn’t expect him to shout for engineering support or to page Steve Jobs. But I did expect him to empathise with me, because laptop owners become attached to their computers, and not having a laptop is often a crisis because heavy users develop a serious dependency. I expected him to recognise that I was in trouble and looking for help, and that I had turned to him and the company he represents.

He did none of these things.

Instead he got my back up with his arrogant, unhelpful and completely unnecessary attitude. I hadn’t asked him to look at the MacBook immediately, but because he started by telling me he couldn’t I wanted to know why. It was ‘policy’ he said. He wasn’t an engineer anyway (I could tell. Engineers understand the emotional attachment to hardware). It would be seven to ten days.

If he’d started by saying ‘Right, well I’ll need to book it in for someone to look at. We’ll be as fast as we can but it will probably be a week’ I would have been cool about it, and given him the computer. Instead I told him I was deeply unhappy with the service offered and left, planning to take the laptop to my good mate Ric, even though he’s a PC person, so he can at least diagnose the problem.

When it has to go for repair, which it almost certainly will, I’ll take it somewhere else. Anywhere else, because even though the Cancom store in Cambridge probably has very good engineers and would do a solid job, the guy on the front desk has pissed me off. I cannot put my faith in him, and because of that I cannot put my faith in the company he works for.

Anyone can fix my toaster or my TV. My laptop is part of me, an extension of my life. It is stained with my sweat, the trackpad is worn smooth by my fingertips, and I will not lightly entrust it to another. I know that my emotional reaction to the encounter must seem extreme, but having a broken laptop is a very stressful experience, and I want it to be repaired by someone who understands that, and not hand it to an arrogant jerk who sees me as the problem for daring to ask for help.

35 Replies to “I won’t be going to Cancom again.”

  1. Good luck with the next stage. Your jerk at Cancom is identical with a fictional character called Ellis in a play I co-wrote, which you will hopefully see at a theatre once your Mac is back up and running.

  2. I’ve also come to the conclusion that Cancom are useless.

    The CRC Group have a place in Huntingdon, and they did a reasonable job fixing a friend’s MacBook Pro. I should add that he bought his laptop from Robert Sayle who sent him to CRC to get it fixed. Of course YMMV!

    See http://www.crc-group.com/contactus.asp

  3. Really sorry to hear about your MacBook. When my MacBook Pro needed attention, I went to KRCS (Nottingham) – they arranged a time for them to look at the machine whilst I waited and then called me back once the parts had arrived and repaired it the same day ( a week later) – Brilliant service; I didn’t have to be without my machine for any longer than needed. They have a Peterborough branch, I see on their website.

    I’d never had a problem with my Macs since 97 until the latest MacBook Pro – is your experience showing that Apple’s Quality Control is slipping?

  4. The one shame of it all is a lot of Apple dealers (I was one previously) figure they are a Rolls Royce dealer or something. I’m pleased to say though that even though there are still Apple dealers out there who are like this, Apple does NOT approve. The future is Apple stores, where hopefully they will have a way better attitude to how they deal with your “precious” no matter what kind of “precious” it indeed is, laptop/iMac/tower etc, and follow the company vow that all Macs and their owners are indeed precious.


    ps if ya still need some assistance, drop me a line, I was a dev boy too for the OS and still know a whack of tricks, plus my old company was also a repair center. 🙂

  5. Cancom in Guilford are equally bad. They took my Mac Mini to fix a duff hard disk, which they said they would be able to rescue the data on, and would take about a week. Two weeks later they returned my Mini with a new disk, (minus the data), and no apology for the lateness.

    In future its probably safer catching the Train to Waterloo and then taking the underground to the Apple Store in Regent Street.

  6. HI Bill – I’m feeling sick…for you and with the prospect of opening my macbook tonite and the same bloody thing happening. I had a similar experience with those noodles at Camcom when I was in Norwich in 2005 and had a dead ibook. Anyway hope you get it sorted – I’m off home to back my macbook up. Ta ra. Simon NZ

  7. Ouch, I feel for you Bill. Not sure what I would do if my laptop was down and out. Even when I take breaks away from it, I spend the first hour or so wandering around forlornly until I remember what I used to do before I had this wonderful machine. Probably good for me though…

  8. Terrible news, Bill…! I feel your pain; I’ve had my fair share of dealing with phone-up technical support (“Hello, my name is John-Peter-Ranjeet”) and unsympathetic ‘technicians’ who look at me as though I’m an idiot for knowing how to use a keyboard and mouse together…

    And then there was my Nintendogs… incident…

    I hope you find a solution.

    My housemate was giddy last night when he came home from work and exclaimed “HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEW MACBOOKS?!”

    I’m guessing they’re something good… 😉

  9. Avoid Cancom. It’s been a few years, but when they were the Cambridge Apple Centre they were not only useless, but rude too. Something is rotten there.

    When my Macs have gone wrong wrong under AppleCare they’ve sent a courier to pick it up. It’s always back within 3 to 4 days and working perfectly. I don’t understand why you went to Cancom at all.

  10. Did you buy the machine from Cancom or just take it there for a repair.

    Im guessing that you bought the machine from Apple and took it to another company to get the machine fixed.

    Shouldn’t it be Apple who you should be angry @, they quite happily sold you the machine and took your money but then told you to go else where when you have a problem.

    I used to work for an other Apple reseller and it did get quite fustrating when Apple would send you send broken desktops/laptops/ipods per the hundred every day…..But then slap restricted margins / all education sales must be done through apple only / beat any quote you present to them when it came to selling the kit.

    You must ask yourself how any resellers survive.

    I agree that you have been treated very badly on this occasion but please also try to remember the guy who you talked to has proberly just served another 8 customers previously who all had broken machines. OK, its his job – but he cant sympathize with everybody. Did you need a hug in sympathy that your laptop had died??

    Be grateful that you actually got to speak to somebody human. When I needed my Acer laptop repaired I had to leave all my details with a machine over the phone and then the Laptop got picked up 6 days later.

  11. i can hugely empathise with your complaints about cancom in cambridge.i am a fellow mac user and purchased my imac g5 from cancom a couple of years ago. it has recently suffered some problems and has almost died. it wont turn on but i can now access tghe files through firewire on my powerbook. i need to have it fixed but have been scared of loosing my files and so called cancom min utes ago to ask for some friendly advice about what i could do, i was only given a premium rate number and then when asked what problems my mac was suffering were, as i began to speak was hastily hung up on and i found my self speaking down a deadline.. i am outraged by their service to their own customers. i can hardly imagine the shop being hugely busy at the moment with their ‘one in one out’ doorbell ringing system, and all i wanted was a bit of straight forward guidance, as i know not much about the technical side of computers and i just needed abit of help.

  12. Useful post. My Powerbook died yesterday and I’m looking for somewhere to take it. Cancom is the obvious place, through being the nearest, but the reaction of the guy I’ve just spoken to on the phone is exactly as Bill relates above. I thought I’d google for some experiences… and found this. So that’s more business Cancom have lost.

  13. my i-book and G4 both had logic board crashes….really scary when it happens..(luckily not at the same time!)….i rang the huntingdon mac dealers..they told me to ring my insurance company..uneconomical to repair….i now have a lovely mac pro and a mac book….both brand new and much better specs….only cost me the excess fee..£50 each…..but they were both dropped on the floor!!!!
    however, if all else fails…..as long as its accidental damage….you can claim it on your house insurance, get it fixed or replaced with a new model, with a years warranty thrown in! just back up your hard drive before you send it to them……

  14. I live in Surrey and our Cancom store is just wonderful. I have never had any issues and the young lad on the counter is always very helpful.

    Having said that I have a iMac and so it doesn’t move and less likely to be shaken up.

    Loved your style of writing.

  15. Sorry you had a negative experience. I had a G5 that went completely dead on me and Cancom Cambridge really went the distance to help me. I was very satisfied with their thoroughness and advice in getting my Apple warranty extended due to a known manufacturing problem with certain power supplies.

    In the past, I have used Albion (used to be good but now terrible), Apple Store (sadly for Apple they have enormously long queues, can’t book appointments easily, long repair delays), Honeycomb (avoid at all costs! They took a perfectly good screen out of a monitor and replaced it with one with severe screen burn. A true rip-off joint!).

    I believe that if I had taken this computer to any one of these shops, I would have been overcharged and the repair would have come back with subsidiary faults which Cancom caught and sought to repair. I have to say that I am VERY happy with Cancom Cambridge’s service people.

  16. Hey Bill…

    I’m not terribly surprised about your experience – I used to work for another Apple Premium Reseller, and remember going up to do the Apple Sales Training at Apple’s Hannover St offices in London, where there were a whole bunch of people from different re-sellers doing the training (which, incidentally, was awesome).

    The most memorable thing about the whole thing was the overt hatred that exuded from the Cancom people towards us.

    It transpired over the two days we were there, that they had a considerably elevated opinion of their product knowledge, which actually sucked ass, and their customer service skills were equally poor.

    The worst thing is that my favourite APR in Edinburgh, Scotsys, has been bought by them and launched as “a brand new Apple Premium Reseller in Edinburgh”

    Does this mean that they’ve sacked all the staff and started again? or are they working on the premise that, if you take a 10 year old Ford Fiesta and put a badge on it that says Van Gogh, it becomes a brand new car?

  17. When I was with a College I placed over £35000 of business with cancom and now they treat me like dirt, will not answer the questions asked and change their minds.

    It took months (when we did not have it) to change a broken ext HD,

  18. I have just bought from the Cancom store in Guildford and could not have of had a better experience. The member of staff who helped me Domonic could not of been more helpful, and after having a problem with one of the items (not there fault) was very quickly sorted out. I would defiantly use them again, and recommend them to my friends.

  19. When i bought my macbook Pro in Feb 2008, i was told by the guy on the counter that if a new book was released within 4 weeks, they would take mine back and replace with the newer model, i pay cash differnce off course. When Apple released a newer book, i called Cancom & asked for the replacement and i would pay the difference. They then told me the salesman had ill informed me and this was not the policy. Today i email after a DVD drive failure and was told to pay for collection & delivery, please note JOHN LEWIS is the place to buy any MAC PRODUCT, forget Cancom and stay well clear off these crooks.

  20. Glad I surfed your site – I was about to by a Mac from Cancom in Guildford. I’m not anymore!

    I used to be a died in the wool PC user but having seen the hell my mates go through with their machines – wanted to move to a Mac.

    The ideals that apple instill in their designs are far more appealing. Not quite so sure that Apple Resellers have the same ideals uppermost when serving customers.

    Also whilst asking about running windows using bootcamp – the nice man was at a loss to explain the level of support this would provide to things like Direct X – a tricky question but one I would expect to be answered. They’re allegedly the experts after all.

    Cheers for the feedback everyone – you’ve saved me a great deal of potential hastle.

  21. @23 – I have to disagree. John Lewis may provide an extended warranty for free but they sell you old products and have no team of staff to help you when buying.

    I’ve bought a MacBook from Cancom in Guildford and have had no problems with it. It’s out of warranty now and still going strong.

  22. I’ve been using Cancom in Brighton as my Mac supplier for the last 6 years, they’ve always been very helpful. I’ve also had dealings with their Guildford office who again have always been very nice people to deal with. I’ve recommended lot’s of people to them and they’ve also told me they were very happy with the service they received.

    No problems with Cancom from me.

  23. Also @23 John Lewis extended warranty is not worth the paper it’s printed on they leave you in the dark and there turn around time is horrendous. John Lewis do not know anything Apple mac products and will probably sell you the wrong thing to begin with. I have been shopping at Cancom for years and they have always provided me with great service, I will continue to recommend them, its a shame you have received such bad service from them on this occasion.

  24. Hi,
    I have just had a nightmare experience with Cancom, which I thought I’d share.
    I purchased Adobe’s Creative Suite 4 Design Premium Student Edition from them. When it arrived, a 1×3 inch hole had been removed from the top of the package. Not big enough to remove the software, but worrying none the less. I rang them up, asking to speak to someone about it. Two days later, I had yet to be contacted. So I rang again, explained the problem to a bloke on the phone, only to be cut off midway through by him saying ‘Yeah, I understand, but what do you expect us to do about it?’. Remaining calm (just), I explained I was expecting that I could return it in exchange for an undamaged copy. He said send it in, which I did. They then returned it straight back saying they’d conducted an ‘investigation’ and concluded I must have done it. When I asked how they decided this, they said it couldn’t have been anyone in their warehouse as they trusted them. I understand they must have to deal with fraud occasionally, but as I asked them, why would I tear a hole not large enough to remove the contents, and then return it, not for a refund, but for a replacement?
    So to cut a long story short, I’ve been sold software with a great big hole in it, accused of fraud, forked out for sending it back to them, and to top it all, I’ve noticed on my bank statement they’ve charged me twice!
    They are rude, incompetent and very suspect. If anyone reads this, and is thinking of buying from them, look at the amount of complaints just on this one site and draw your own conclusions.

  25. My Cancom was also not what I wanted. I bought a MacBook Air and asked them to put Bootcamp on it, they took much longer than expected and setup the partitions in the wrong way. I had to use it asap and I had to live with their mistake since. Gurrr

  26. The OP sounds like a right twat, who obviously has no life.

    Stop bitching about some company who has made a few mistakes!

    I have used them a few times and the service has been great, I’m sure like in every company there are a few employees who bring the company name down with them..

  27. I can’t agree more with the sentiment. I’ve just made a phone call to them about a Mac monitor which was a month over its warranty and had blown up for the second time (grrr). They take no interest whatsoever, just suggested I bought a new one.

    Not even a tiny bit of sympathy, let alone help or sensible advice.

    Anyway, I telephoned around and found a lovely service centre just around the corner from here. They listened to my tale of woe, asked me the serial number on the monitor and checked the service database with apple.

    He’s telephoning Apple tomorrow to ask for it to be escalated as a warranty repair. It turns out than Cancom were slack enough to not bother registering the monitor with Apple as sold for two weeks so its’ actually only a single day out of warranty.

    The attitude at Cancom stinks. There’s really no attempt to go beyond the script.

    I’ll be buying my Mac stuff from somewhere else in future.

    Interestingly, if you do a search for ‘Cancom service shit’ on google you get the cancom page as the top hit with google adding:

    “These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: shit”

    So CANCOM – don’t use them! Try almost anywhere else instead. And Guy at Backstage Services is, so far, highly recommended if you need something repairing. Or even just to make you feel better about needing something repairing.

  28. @31 Jim C. I used to work for a Mac re-seller and Apple treat them like dirt. If your machine is out of Warranty Cancom would not be able to repair it unless you wanted to pay. Re-sellers are really struggling to make ends meat in the current economy and the their are people like you who expect some sort of ‘free service’?

    Anyway as with all of these company’s it’s all about the salesman you use. I had a good relationship with all my customers and would do everything I could to make sure they were happy with the service they were getting. Unfortunately as with all company’s you will have the odd bad egg, unfortunately they can tarnish a good reputation!

  29. i used to work for a reseller and it did seem to be a constant stream of people with problems with their macs, 9 in 10 bought from apple direct or worse John Lewis saying they should come to us and we would fix it. when we were not busy we world do our best to fix it for no cost, but if there were busy and said we couldn’t help as we were not a technical center people would get angry.

  30. Cancom is a nightmare. I used to put my company’s entire computer purchasing through them, but they messed us about endlessly and their staff are rude. They don’t have the cheapest prices, so as their service is lousy, why bother with them?

  31. In store i have had a great time with Cancom – helpful staff and friendly advice.

    However after a recent order online i would not recommend them. Having purchased a product that was not correctly described ( or photographed ) they were unhelpful and borderline rude.

    If you can i would suggest shopping elsewhere.

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