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.