Just As I Thought

The laptop black hole east of Houston claims another victim

I don’t know who to aim this rant at — Apple Computer or Airborne Express. I think it’s more likely Airborne’s fault, but Apple should use a more reputable and consistent shipper.

A couple months ago, as chronicled here, I shipped my PowerBook back to it’s maker for a bad dermatological condition. A week later, it was still not back, and I was getting a bit antsy. The worst part was that Apple couldn’t tell me where it was. Finally, they discovered that they had shipped it back to the wrong person – a school somewhere – and that school shipped it on to me. I was, to say the least, rather pissed at this.

I figured that since I got my Powerbook back with a nice, shiny new casing, that all was well and it was just an aberration. Until today.

Last week I shipped my mother’s iBook in for an out-of-warranty repair. The first sting was the cost – $350. The problem was a defective part on the logic board, but hey – since it was older than 12 months, it became my problem, not Apple’s. I wish they would pony up a better warranty for their products. It couldn’t possibly be that expensive, this is the first hardware failure I’ve ever had in an Apple product in the last 10 years. (Now, back in the era of the original Mac, I had power supplies replaced all the time. Thank goodness that’s over.)

Anyway. I figured that it was still about $700 cheaper than buying a new one (another aside – that’s the odd way I think. Rather than replace one defective memory chip, I’d rather buy a new one and throw the old one out for parts. I’m a dream consumer that way. I feel guilty about it, so don’t yell, OK? And don’t you hate these long parentheticals? This is how I talk in real life, too, so if you get into a conversation with me you may never find out what it was that we were talking about when we started, so just be forewarned). So, I shipped it back to Apple. That was last week.
Yesterday, I checked on the Apple website to see what the status of the repair was. It said, tersely, “CLOSED.” No information on whether it was finished, if it was shipped, if there was a tracking number. Annoying. This was one of my complaints about the Powerbook – not enough information available to the consumer.

Then, this morning, a call, which went something like this:

“Mr. Cowan?”
“Yes?”
“This is Airborne Express. Were you expecting a delivery of an Apple iBook?”
“Yes, I was.”
“Did you receive it?”
“Um, no.”
“Well, we’re trying to track it down. It never arrived here at the Rockville facility.”
“Um…”
“We’ll continue to look into this and try to find it.”
“Um, OK.”

When I contacted Apple, they blamed it on Airborne, saying it had been picked up from the repair dock. They have officially told me that it’s lost.

I’m pretty pissed about this.

In the end, I have been told, Apple will provide me with a replacement iBook. So, that’s OK – and I can only assume that they won’t charge me the $350 repair fee. [Update: they DID charge me a $49 fee just to speak to them on the phone about it, even though they told me that the phone fee was included in the repair cost. Guess I’ll be asking for a refund of that, too.] But my mom has been without her iBook for two weeks now and I feel oddly responsible – I probably should stop giving people computer advice or hooking up their TVs, because I have become a technical support hotline for family and friends, and it’ss just more responsibility than I want….

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