Thursday, June 08, 2006

iBOOK BLUES: Please excuse a personal grumble. If you're not in the mood for one, skip to the last paragraph.

Regular readers will recall my travails with my new iBook in February. I lost a week of access to it, but the defective unit was promptly replaced and I had no real complaint. Well, the story continues, and becomes less happy.

From mid-February to the end of April, thinks seemed to go fine, and I got a lot of use out the machine, including on a long trip abroad. But at the end of April, everything changed. The iBook broke down twice in rapid succession and had to be sent to a repair center for two distinct, mysterious hardware problems. I had it back and working for a week in May, but otherwise it has been either broken, in transit, or at the service center. Most recently it arrived at the service center on May 24th, two weeks ago yesterday. On that day I got the message "On hold - Part on order (24-May-2006)." And there it has remained for the last fortnight. On Monday morning of this week I called the support number and they promised me they would give my case high priority status and said the part should be in within 24 hours. That was almost three days ago. The message "On hold - Part on order (24-May-2006)" remains on my Mail-in Repair Status page and no one has contacted me to tell me what is going on.

To put this in context, I have been using Apple computers for almost 21 years. They have generally been reliable and trouble free. The move from the Apple operating system to the Unix-based System X a few years ago was a bit rocky, but nearly all the problems have been ironed out with version 10.4. I have had an eMac desktop machine for more than three years and, apart from a stretch where it had slowness problems that eventually were resolved, it has been reliable and I have been happy with it. And I can add to the plus side that the technical people I have talked to in the last several months have been helpful and polite and reasonably knowledgeable. Also, Apple has shipped the computer back and forth to the repair center without charge.

There's the plus side. But the minus side is that this my second iBook unit in less than four months; I've had this one in working order only for about a week since the beginning of May because it has had critical hardware breakdowns twice; and the second time appears to be nowhere near resolution even after the machine has been at the service center for more than two weeks. I bought the thing to take with me to conferences and I have one today to which I intended to take it. I can't. The most charitable face I can put on this is that Apple's repair centers must be seriously understaffed. And it's hard not to worry that an employee who was working on my computer has quit or been fired and it is sitting on a shelf or in a box somewhere and no one remembers it.

I want to cut Apple all the slack I can, but I'm getting really fed up. Until now I would have recommended Apple computers without hesitation because of their stability and reliability. Now I'm not so sure. Stability and reliability are not what I've been seeing lately.

By the way, is my recent experience with Apple unusual? I would be interested in hearing from Apple-using readers whether their experience in the last year or so has been good or bad. Please let me know if it has been either. It's possible that I have just had bad luck and this case is not representative. I hope so.

To make it all perfect, Blogger suddenly went belly up and was "Down for Maintenance" all yesterday evening "due to an unexpected problem." This post was written then, but I'm just putting it up this morning before I run to catch a train.

I'll keep you posted on what happens with the iBook.

I'll be in Edinburgh all day today at the Scottish Universities' day-conference for postgraduates in Divinity and Theology. I won't have a portable computer with me (grrr...) so additional blogging, if any, will have to wait until this evening.

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