Now You Know Why Apple is Apple…

Apple_think_different  As a "PC Guy" you yearn for a great experience at a pc store or manufacturer… you crave those little moments when the stars align and you actually get high quality customer service… you weep a bit when you get a real person on the phone who immediately states, "I know exactly what you are talking about, and I can help…" You know why? Because they rarely happen. On one hand it is really not anyone's fault, and at the same time, it is everyone's fault.  The PC industry has been in a race to the bottom from a pricing standpoint, and there are few companies who can provide the necessary support to truly assist their customers and along those lines, whose customers are we? Sony's, Compaq – oops HP's,Gateway – Oops sorry MPC – whoops maybe Acer, Toshiba, IBM – oops Lenovo… Or say Microsoft's? Or what about Best Buy, Walmart, Target, or the thousands of computer builders… What about Nvidia, Asus, BFG, or the thousands of parts manufacturers… Or are we customers of them all and ALL of the myriad of software vendors out there… Ugh, no wonder it is almost impossible to get a straight answer without being transferred multiple times, and calls between the various vendors that make up the "thing" you are reading this from…

Now being "PC guy" I want to talk about a different experience I had earlier this evening. If you read this blog at all you will know that I recently received a MacBook Pro for Christmas from my wife and children. Since that time I have been using the MBP regularly in an attempt to make myself familiar with it as well as leverage some of the really stunning features of the MAC OSX software like iPhoto and iTunes (iTunes is SO much better on a MAC than its PC counterpart). Additionally, I have tried to really put the MBP through its paces to find the limitations of the OS or the hardware itself. Honestly, I have to say I have hardly tasked either so far.  But, one thing that WAS an issue was the intermittent wireless drops I was experiencing.  They started the day I got the MBP, and have persisted ever since being better or worse depending on the day, but up until now I have looked at these drops as a quirky nuisance (all I needed to do was to turn off the Airport wireless and turn it back on and in a few seconds all was better) however, I knew things were not going to get better by themselves.  So, last Friday/Saturday I attempted to "correct" the issue see this post for those results… 

L So, THAT brings me to today… With the MBP only being a little over a week old, I did not want this "cute quirk" to become a frustrating annoyance I made an appointment at my local Apple Store in Deer Park, IL. Now, I didn't know what what they could do (or would do) I had hoped that the issue would be corrected.  Ok, I'll be honest I expected the issue to be corrected, or I would just return it.  I didn't spend almost $1,500 for a machine with flaky wireless… and again it was only 8 days old. 

Now I had an idea how a PC vendor would treat the issue.  Sincerely, first it would be really rare that I could simply walk into a store and talk to them… most mainstream PC's are purchased via the net nowadays. If you could, typically, the high school / post-high school "associate" who would be helping me would ask if I had "rebooted" then they would run a series of "diagnostics" and the PC / wireless would behave normally… there by eliciting the "it must be your router or ISP." We would argue a while and then they would refer me to the manufacturer "for support." Where this entire process would begin again… now over time, I believe that the issue would be resolved, unfortunately, this would take large amounts of time on my part, and most likely some loss of the entire laptop for a period of time, or the necessity for me to tear into the guys of the laptop to remove and replace the offending wireless card. Now, you should understand that the PC manufacturer's cannot just ship those parts out for their defective machines on their dime mind you… I would have to pony up my credit card "to cover the cost of the part until they receive the defective one back…" Just in case I am a shifty character trying to scam a wireless chip for a laptop to put into that other one I have laying around you know… 

So, let me tell you about my experience with Apple tonight.  I originally arranged for an appointment for Sunday night, but I ended up not being able to make it, so I re-scheduled online for tonight at 5:40pm. I arrived about 25 minutes early due to light traffic, and a greeter "checked me in." So, I wandered around a bit, but was called about 15 minutes early for my appointment (nice surprise). I believe that my "Geniuses" name was Chris.  A cheery fellow, he opened up the MBP and started looking at some of the logs and system configurations while asking me about the issues I was having.  I described the wireless drops, and my "way to late a night self support." He looked at the double update install, and put me at easy stating that this really was not a big deal for the OS to handle, basically it was like installing a program twice… it would not hurt the system at all. Nice…

He then stated that he had seem this type a behavior a couple of times before, and it was not really related to any software but it was most likely caused by a faulty wireless card. WOW that quick! He came to the same conclusion that I did, no arguments, no getting folks on the phone, or looking for a manager, no well, we need to keep this a couple of days to run diagnostics because it connected to our wireless fine… just a simply, hey here is the issue.  Now, being the good "PC guy" I tried to give him an out… I told Chris I read some of the Apple Support Forums and related that they described possible interference from multiple wireless signals… I related that I had a wireless DLS modem (with the wireless turned off, but the MBP still registers it as an active wireless connection) a Belkin N+ wireless router and an Airport Express Wireless AP in the house. Again, Chris put me at ease relating that the Airport Express and the Belkin were acting as a single network (which I already knew, but it is good to be able to confirm his technical aptitude), and that these types of signals would also not be causing the issues I was having, it really was a bum wireless card in the MBP. 

Then he related what Apple was going to do: "We
ll, even know these intermittent drops a kind of a cute quirk right now, I would prefer to eliminate them now before they really become frustrating to you. So, if it is OK with you, I would like to swap out the MBP you have with a brand new unit.  That way everything should be good to go for you!
" Would that be OK with me?! Woah! You betcha! He then went into the back and got a brand new MBP (same model) took it out of the box, and offered to swap my hard drive so I would not have to restore the entire system from my Time Machine backup… Nice. 

So, he swapped the drive, finished the transaction updating my account and as he started to pack away my old finicky wireless shell, he pulled out the power adapter and laid it on top of my new MBP and said, "You're all set and here [pointing to the power adapter and cords] with these you have a spare power adapter now you can leave one at the office, and keep the other at home so you don't have to drag one back and forth." WAY COOL! 

So, in less than an hour, I had a a brand new MacBook Pro, and an additional 60w magnetic lock power adapter.  Wireless problem appear to be solved with this new MBP and all is good in my world.  When relating this to my father (also a PC guy) on the drive home he said, "Well, now you know why Apple is Apple…" While I still consider myself a PC guy, I am beginning to see how hard Apple works to ensure their customers are satisfied and why there is a "Cult of MAC!" I could even see myself with a little fanboy twinkle in my eye if this keeps up…

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