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Apple Care Efficiency When Macs Break? 232

Posted by Cliff
from the what-has-been-your-experience dept.
cyber-dragon.net asks: "I have long been a staunch supporter of Apple and Macs, however my recent experience with trying to bring them into my department, at work, has been disappointing. We had a Mac Pro (the big quad processor monster) die after four days. Of course, this kind of stuff happens, and everything else has worked flawlessly. I even dealt with the inevitable teasing about the shiny new Mac being a lemon. Almost four hours dealing with Apple Care, three hours dropping off and picking up my computer at different stores, as per their instructions, trying to get this done quickly — I am beginning to wonder if Apple really wants business customers to rely on these machines. Much as I may dislike Dell, when my Linux box died it was fixed in four hours, and I spent maybe 20 minutes of my time setting up the repair. I have spent seven hours of my time so far on this Mac, and it still will not power up. Is this just me or have other people lost critical business machines to the depths of Apple Care inefficiency and lack of business level support?"
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Apple Care Efficiency When Macs Break?

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  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @12:43PM (#18263218) Homepage Journal
    ...for consumer support. It sounds like the problem you're having is that you're demanding the type of turnaround that many business-level plans provide. Yet Apple doesn't have a standard business-level plan in place.

    The normal process is that you drop the computer off, wait a week or two, and pick it up to find it in spectacular condition. (Usually better than when you dropped it off; above and beyond fixing whatever you brought it in for.) The key is that you have to show a modicum of patience, something which businesses often can't afford to do.

    Now that's not to say that Apple doesn't want your business. In fact, I imagine that Apple would love to provide corporate support. But you're not going to find it in their stores. What you need to do is contact Apple Corporate and explain the situation. Tell them that you've been tasked to covert your business from an all-Windows platform to an all-Mac platform. Explain that the AppleCare store plans appear to be insufficient for your needs, and also explain the exact issues you've had with them.

    I would be very much suprised if Apple didn't assign you an account representative to take care of your needs. It might require a bit of FexExing back and forth, but you'll get support handled a lot better than if you try and take your needs to the geniuses (pun intended) at the Apple Store.

    Good luck!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by caldaan (583572)
      Actually if you purchase Apple Care they are suppose to come to your business and fix it there. The G5 we have had a bad logic board when I bought it. They wanted me to take it in, and I told them that their service required them to come out and fix it on site. When we got it down to either a logic board or a CPU they eventually has someone come out and replace the logic board. My only complaint was they default to telling you to bring in the system yourself.
      • Actually if you purchase Apple Care they are suppose to come to your business and fix it there.

        Interesting. Is that supposed to be part of the same AppleCare plan, or is that a different level of support? Because I've spent a bit of time (admittedly, not too much) digging through Apple's support website. While they can refer you to Apple consultants, they don't really advertise any "AppleCare for Business" plans.
        • by caldaan (583572) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @01:15PM (#18263710)
          From http://www.apple.com/support/products/proplan.html [apple.com]

          Convenient repair options

          The AppleCare Protection Plan ensures that Apple-authorized technicians will perform repairs using genuine Apple parts(2). With this plan, parts and labor will be covered for three years from your computer's purchase date. The plan includes onsite service for desktop computers and global repair coverage, which can be very important if you travel abroad.

          (1) Onsite service is not available in all locations.
          (2) Repair service may include onsite, carry-in, and direct mail-in; specific availability of each option depends on product type and location of Apple Authorized Service Provider. Apple may also request that the customer replace components with readily installable parts.

          Now they can't swap out LCD screens on site, they can't typically even do that in their shop. But pretty much anything related to the Computer they can do. The biggest problem would be if you live too far from a service provider that does on site repairs. And technically this isn't a "business" plan per se. If you bought one for your own personal use and get the Apple Care Protection Plan they are suppose to come out to your house and fix it.
          • So it's really just a SOHO plan? Still, that's a rather sweet deal if you're willing to shell out the dough. I just don't think it's going to help this fellow much. He should still get ahold of corporate and wring a few necks until he gets a support plan that works for him. :)
          • One of our dell laptops had a screen go bad (lines were appearing on the screen). A 5 minute call (including hold times) with a customer rep confirmed the problem and scheduled the tech. The next day the part arrived in the morning and the tech arrived in the afternoon. It probably took him 20 minute to replace the screen. Total lost time less than a day.

            The same event with an apple product would have required a minimum of 2 hours on the phone and probably a week or more of lost time.
            Apple=Stuff you use
            • by Lars T. (470328)

              One of our dell laptops had a screen go bad (lines were appearing on the screen). A 5 minute call (including hold times) with a customer rep confirmed the problem and scheduled the tech. The next day the part arrived in the morning and the tech arrived in the afternoon. It probably took him 20 minute to replace the screen. Total lost time less than a day.

              The same event with an apple product would have required a minimum of 2 hours on the phone and probably a week or more of lost time.
              Apple=Stuff you use at home
              Major brand PC=Stuff you use at work.

              Suuure. Unless you live in one of the places where the on-site service Dell sold you isn't actually available. That is after you talked for hours to the guys in India.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Sandbags (964742)
                OK, I work in Disaster Recovery, so this hits home... First, the service plan is designed to fix your hardware only. If on site service is available from someone who is actually a trained, reliable, rep for a company (ie, you live/work in one of the 150 largest towns in America), then you are lucky and can usually get good service. Most people have to ship their hardware off or deal with some outsourced local company for repairs that take days. You hardly ever get your machine back in any good shape unl
              • by kestasjk (933987) *
                Well I woke up one morning a few months ago to see my first WinXP BSoD. Cursing MS I rebooted, and it turned out it was a problem with memory. Cursing Dell I called up their tech support, who arranged to have a tech come over the following day with replacement parts. The next day it was replaced and everything was working again.

                So I'd say Dell's support is excellent, and from everything I've heard it far exceeds Apple.
          • by linuxpng (314861)
            for $100 extra a year.. on top of your applecare
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "My only complaint was they default to telling you to bring in the system yourself."

        Well, maybe it is because I've lived in areas where there was NO Apple Store...they just sent me postage paid shipping package to mail it to them.

        I've only had one experience with Apple repairs...but, I have an older iBook 800Mhz I got off eBay. No Apple Care.

        The screen fizzled and went out, after some research I found this model had had a motherboard problem, I called Apple, and even with no Apple care...and the recall

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      ...for consumer support.

      Unless the problem is so widespread that they don't want to acknowledge it even exists until a class action lawsuit is brought against them. I love Macs and have used them for a long time, but I'll think seriously about buying another one after the hell I went through with the last one...
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      The normal process is that you drop the computer off, wait a week or two, and pick it up to find it in spectacular condition. [...] Now that's not to say that Apple doesn't want your business.

      Apple also offers on-site service, although they do not offer it for laptops. If he needed it fixed right away and without hassle, perhaps he should have considered that option... although I don't know how quickly they actually show up.

      However, I quoted you in the way I did because obviously Apple doesn't want my bus

      • by daeg (828071)
        With two guys, it's easy to figure out whether something is profitable. "Hey, did we make money by fixing that dude's computer? Yeah? Cool, let's keep doing that."

        With Apple, though, any profitable venture has to go through massive marketing, advertising, and financial analysis because it's on a national/global scale, not a few square miles of a single city. Will it be profitable in Milwaukee? Chicago? New York? Miami? Why or why not? What can we do to ensure it is profitable everywhere? Can we offer the sa
    • The above suggestions are great -- another option is to find a Apple Authorized Service provider that has been around for a while. For example, when I was in Minneapolis and working for a small business (that was all mac shop at the time), I found FirstTech and they were fantastic about getting machines turned around quickly for me with a minimum of hassle. They made business customers a priority and it showed... I'm sure there have to be similar places in other major metro areas...
    • by tsnee (139546) <tsnee.bright-ring-software@com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @12:58PM (#18263428) Homepage

      Usually better than when you dropped it off
      Depends on which Apple Store. The one in Durham, NC always returned my laptop in worse condition. I would sit in the store for six hours to tell someone my DVD drive was broken, wait three or four weeks to get my computer back, then find that its wireless networking no longer worked. Take it back, wait a few weeks, find that the sound no longer worked. The last time I bothered to take it in, they didn't even put all the screws back in the case! After six months of this, my extended warranty finally expired, and now I am no longer a customer.
      • by Dan Hayes (212400)
        Not quite as bad as my gf's experience, but similar in its time-frame, including the endless waiting in store and the delays in getting the thing back. Oh, and of course as it had just gone out of warranty the several hundred pounds to replace the screen.
      • by linuxpng (314861) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @03:04PM (#18265610)
        AMEN! I had a powermac I dropped off at that same store that was suffering from the sudden shutdown issue you'll find on some mac boards. (replacement systemboard + powersupply)I came back after 3 weeks to find it had looked like it had been dragged across a circuit board (you know that sharp soldier joints on the back) and for them to tell me "it couldn't possibly have happened in repair".

        Just the last straw. I've had a powerbook (my first mac the old Ti) die right out of the box that kept going back to service for 6 months because when they fixed something, they broke something else. They eventually replaced it with the next level Ti powerbook that had the paint flaking issue. That powermac also had it's powersupply replaced once because they use cheap fans and they used to get loud after a perioud of time. Also still have a 12inch powerbook that had 3 hard drive replacements and has a slight wobble. You should look at their forums for the replacement batteries they sent out on the recall.. See how many people got batteries that don't even fit(mine too).

        http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID= 636886&tstart=0 [apple.com]

        The problem is when a product is old Apple wants to forget the ever made it. Oh sure when there is a class action lawsuit.

        Sorry for the rant, I've given apple waaay too much money.
    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @01:06PM (#18263576)
      Wow, that sounds like a bunch of that stuffed-shirt/John Hodgeman/PC stuff. Surely a hipster like Apple would never lower themselves to such uncool depths as "assigning an account representative from Apple Corporate." They're more the free-wheeling, outside the box, creative types.

      "Service your broken Apple? No way, man. The problem is YOU, not the computer! You're just not cool enough to use it. If you had listened to REM *BEFORE* they hit MTV, then maybe you wouldn't NEED it serviced. Did you ever even attend a SINGLE Phish concert in college? No? That's what we thought. You have the nerve to think that Nickelback and Fallout Boy are cutting edge and then you think we're going to service your computer? Forget it. Apple just works man, it doesn't break. And, if it does break, you've got to to be all creative about it. Have you even TRIED healing crystals? Did you consult a Shaman? No? Sounds like YOU'RE the one who's broken, dude. Now call us back when you're actually worthy of owning an Apple--which will probably be never."

      -Eric

      • by ktappe (747125) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @01:46PM (#18264220)

        Wow, that sounds like a bunch of that stuffed-shirt/John Hodgeman/PC stuff. Surely a hipster like Apple would never lower themselves to such uncool depths as "assigning an account representative from Apple Corporate." They're more the free-wheeling, outside the box, creative types.
        I know you were being funny, but fact is that we do have an assigned account representative at Apple Computer. I speak with him at least once per week. He gets us custom quotes and takes care of any issues we have (though he is not our first call if we need hardware service--we call AppleCare for that.) And yes, we do get on-site hardware service. I recommend the original poster call Apple Enterprise support at 866-752-7753 and see if they can help him out.
        • by raddan (519638)
          Thanks for the info. This is very useful.
        • But I find it best to work in conjunction with a long time Apple consulting firm. Also OS X server preferred support runs $20,000 (ok I was quoted discount at $16,000) from Apple. That money can buy a lot of consultant hours. Basically, unless you need access to the OS X devs I'd just find a good consulting partner.
          For repair and replacement, because Apple does not do 4 hour (or even next day) parts and repair to my town (Honolulu) I have to have extra parts and hardware on hand to implement fixes.
          It isn't
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Matt Perry (793115)

          I speak with him at least once per week.
          If you're having so many problems with your computers that you have to speak to your rep once a week, you might want to reconsider your hardware vendor.
      • by gad_zuki! (70830)
        I think Charlie Booker said it best in this hilarious piece from the guardian. [guardian.co.uk]
    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @01:47PM (#18264252)
      We have a couple of macs at work. One imac g5 died. This is how apple operates.

      Call AppleCare. Long Wait. Do all the diagnostics I've already done. Support says its a bad mobo or ps. I ask to send it in, he stammers and tells me to call the local apple store for mail-in service.

      I call the Apple Store. They tell me they can't accept anything mailed in or messengered over. They tell me to call applecare again and that applecare will take in mail-ins.

      I call apple care again. Seriously long wait. I explain everything again. The guy puts me on hold for literally 15 minutes while he goes and finds out about "mailing in a computer." He then tells me that Apple no longer accepts desktops mailed in.

      I call the Apple Store again. I finally get a manager. He tells me I have to get off my ass, leave work for god knows how long, lug this beast down michigan ave in chicago, and drop it off with one of his geniuses.

      This is crap, by now Dell or whoever would already be repairing the machine I sent them with the standard warranty.

      Apple is doing its best to piss off corprate customers and keep macs out of business. There's no microsoft conspiracy here, Apple is pretty competent at shooting itself in the foot.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DarkVader (121278)
        Call your local Apple Authorized Service Provider, not Apple.

        Seriously, the dealers are happy to get service business. I'm the onsite guy for a dealer (Knoxville, TN) and most days I can schedule you in the same day. If you've got AppleCare, and it's a hardware problem, the onsite repair is free.
    • by Lars T. (470328)

      The normal process is that you drop the computer off, wait a week or two, and pick it up to find it in spectacular condition. (Usually better than when you dropped it off; above and beyond fixing whatever you brought it in for.) The key is that you have to show a modicum of patience, something which businesses often can't afford to do.

      If that's your problem, the answer is ProCare [apple.com]. "ProCare is your ticket to priority repairs", or so they say.

      • "Members get "Next in line, first on the bench" service on all in-store repairs."

        Yeah great. Well "pro" corporate support from any of a dozen vendors means they show up to repair within 4 hours of the support call being placed. No next in line. No line at all.
        • by Lars T. (470328)

          Well "pro" corporate support from any of a dozen vendors means they show up to repair within 4 hours of the support call being placed. No next in line. No line at all.
          You still believe in that myth? WHat color is the sky where you live?
    • by philipgar (595691)
      In the fall my MacBook started experiencing random shutdowns. I called up apple. On a Thursday afternoon a prepaid box arrived at my door. I put the apple in shipped it off to apple either thursday or Friday (can't remember offhand). I had to go a whole weekend without my computer, and I almost missed the laptop when it was attempted to be delivered to my house on Monday. However a call to the delivery person and they delivered it to where I worked instead a few hours later (I only work a few miles fro
    • Your post describes why Apple is unlikely to find many enterprise customers [slashdot.org], despite some of the rah-rah posters in the linked thread. The bigger problem is that getting business-class support on the level of HP or Dell is almost impossible for small- to mid-sized businesses; until you're upgrading hundreds of Macs at a time, Apple isn't likely to give you the time of day. If you buy one computer a month from Dell, they'll assign you a rep and give you a customized store and all kinds of other stuff.

      In fac

  • You should try (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nick Fury (624480)
    You should try getting them to take back a whining 1st gen Macbook Pro. It took me over 6 weeks to get them to do anything about it. I think the turning point was when I told them "your tech support is worse than Dell". The good news was that I finally ended up replacing the machine with one of their newer systems that has a Core 2 Duo chip. I'm happy with the new system. It's quiet and it runs cooler as well. Apple's tech support is awful though.
  • More details? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Zaurus (674150)
    What, exactly, are the symptoms of your problems and what have you tried?

    Anecdotally...

    In my experience, I had to spend 11 hours on the phone with Dell (about 90% of that time on hold) talking to four different people during ONE DAY to convince them to RMA a DVD drive that wouldn't read DVD's. Thank heavens for speaker-phones. Of course, that was as a home user in 2001.

    In contrast, as a home user of an Apple keyboard that had problems last year, I called Apple and got to a real person in about a minute (i
    • I agree that Dell's home user support sucks, with long hold times, heavily accented people walking through standard scripts, etc. (first, ensure the computer is plugged in, press the big button on the front, ...) However, I must say that their Enterprise support rocks. I have never been on hold more than 30 seconds, and have seldom been on the phone for more than 5 minutes total. I tell them, "A hard drive died in a workstation, the diagnostic tests report this error ." They say, "Ok, let me send you a
  • "Pro Care" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by isaac (2852) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @12:48PM (#18263294)
    Apple's enterprise support is indeed a joke. They're just not set up for that market. 4 hour on-site? Dream on.

    In this case (line-ups at stores), your only option is "ProCare" which for $100/yr lets you schedule appointments in advance and jump the support queue at the store. No idea whether it's well-honored at busy stores like SoHo (NYC), though. One would hope, but can never assume.

    -Isaac
  • when my dell died (Score:4, Insightful)

    by josepha48 (13953) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @12:48PM (#18263296) Journal
    I had to wait 3 days for them to get a tech out there.

    When my roommates apple laptop died, he took it to an apple store and they took care of it for him. I guess it really depends on the apple store, as I would think that like any other chain, YMMV.

  • Almost four hours dealing with Apple Care, three hours dropping off and picking up my computer at different stores, as per their instructions, trying to get this done quickly

    Stores or computer repair shops? You should only have to bring it to one repair shop.
  • Apple's Are Flaky (Score:2, Informative)

    by SerpentMage (13390)
    I have had at least 20-30 computers in the span of about 17 years. Apple is not that great. I had a Powerbook that had a faulty motherboard. Apple promptly and kindly fixed the computer, no complaints. Though now I can only run Linux on the Powerbook because when I reformatted the machine and installed OSX I have periodic lockouts. I have tried the utilities that people have recommended (eg memory stress test, etc, etc) yet no avail. Sure I could get Apple to fix it, but that would mean spending money.

    If th
    • Re:Apple's Are Flaky (Score:5, Informative)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @01:36PM (#18264040)

      The plural of "anecdote" is not "data." Whatever your personal experiences, they are not really useful data for a person objectively trying to determine the reliability of systems. People here can trade anecdotes all day and tell you how two different Samsung laptops lit on fire killing family members or whatever. What is useful, however, is actually looking at the independent reviews by manufacturer and support/computer type and seeing how they actually do with large sample sets and documented methodologies. It is not like there is even a lot of debate among said studies. Apple and Lenovo (IBM is long gone neighbor) consistently rank at the top of the heap. Historically, Dell has been near or at the bottom, although they have improved a lot for laptops last year. One of your "best picks," HP has consistently ranked as the worst in the industry for many years running.

      You might want to consider in future posting titles more like "My Apples are flakey." That at least is true. Objectively speaking all the evidence indicates Apple machines are among the least "flakey" in the industry and claiming otherwise is simply your own subjective opinion based upon not enough data to count.

      • by linuxpng (314861)
        Refer to my post above, see if you can get something scientific going.

        http://ask.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=225508&thr eshold=3&commentsort=0&mode=thread&pid=18263428#18 265610 [slashdot.org]
      • Very true. For whatever it's worth -- and possibly not much -- Consumer Reports says [consumerreports.org]:

        The brand repeatedly scores at or near the top in tech support and has been reliable. Our most recent survey of desktop computer users, in fact, rated Apple more than 20 points ahead of all the other computer manufacturers for technical support.

        In addition, their detailed subscriber listings consistently show Macs toward or at the top of the scale for reliability in terms of both desktops and laptops. They don't make co

        • by linuxpng (314861)
          I think most people don't know when their hardware is defective. Imagine your mom dealing with a machine that cuts off randomly like the power plug has been yanked. Or how many people put up with modern BSODs, you can say what you want but they are very frequently hardware problems.

          They might be good in consumer reports but *my* experience is, I've seen hundreds of thinkpads (not on defective from the factory) and about 8 Apple's where 1/2 were broken.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        IBM isn't long gone. They just don't do PCs and laptops anymore. They still have a large range of servers, mid-range, and mainframes. And their service is very good.
        I can tell you that the company I work for shipped out at least a thousand IBM Thinkpads. There service was much better then other companies we dealt with. It pain us when sold off the Thinkpad line.
    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)
      That's been my experience. My 10 year old Thinkpad and semi-recent HP seem indestructible. Dropped them both several times; the HP even has a warped casing and the CD-ROM still works.

      The Toshiba, on the other hand, has cracked its casing in several places, the rubber mouse buttons have worn holes in them, and the battery is by now useless, but it has never had a functional problem.

      I've never known anyone with a Sony laptop that has lasted for more than a few years.
  • Not impressed (Score:3, Informative)

    by sprag (38460) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @12:55PM (#18263380)
    We've had a couple of problems with our XServe and its been hit or miss. We bought the spare parts kit, and it hasn't been the pancea its made out to be. For a bad XServe RAID drive its just fine, but when we had one of the system disks fail on the XServe, it was a nightmare.

    When the drive failed we looked in the spare parts kit but there wasn't one. When we called them about it, the rep kept claiming that we bought the wrong spare parts kit. Only after pestering him for the part number for the "right" kit did he admit that there wasn't a kit with the spare part. The 4 hour response time basically amounts to how fast you'll get someone to tell you that they'll ship one sometime. For this particular drive, they didn't have any in stock and it took 5 days to get one to our site (and the delivery people tried to postpone it over the weekend because it was Friday afternoon). When it did arrive, it was slightly smaller than the old, so I had to fight with the mirror config to make it work again.

    Not a pleasant experience.

    On the other hand, last night I had a scsi raid card die on an IBM pSeries machine. The machine died and after doing diagnostics and sending a report in (at 10:45) I spoke to a rep at 11 and because it was in the middle of the night it took a little longer, but the card was at our site by 4am and we up and running by 5:30.
    • It's enough to make you wonder if it isn't still a good idea for Apple and Sun to merge. Or at least develop a synergistic partnership (*snicker*) that plays up the strengths of both companies. Apple could provide the glitz and Sun the raw hardware support and software scalability. With a little bit of technology sharing, they could develop into a new (and incredibly powerful) force in the business computer industry.

      Mac OS X on a Sun Ray? I'm drooling already.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Not a pleasant experience?

      It generally isn't when one side of the conversation is clueless. Witness:

      AppleCare Service Parts Kits for Xserve. To minimize downtime, Apple offers an AppleCare Service Parts Kit for Xserve, which includes a logic board, a power supply, and a fan array.

      Do you see a drive listed in that short list of contents? I don't. Do you think it should be there anyways, when you can configure an Xserve with any number of drive choices? It's obviously better to sell you a kit with gene

  • by DogDude (805747) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @12:57PM (#18263418) Homepage
    It's still a silly decision to try to use Macs for mission-critical business machines for just this reason. In my business, if I have a machine go down, I either run down to my local parts store to get the part I need, or I run down to the thrift store and pick up another used beige box for $50. Having a machine down for weeks in not an option. Having a machine down for days, even, is unacceptable in my small business.

    Now, if you have some fancy design business, where deadlines are measured in weeks or months, as opposed to minutes as they are in retail, then sure, you can probably afford to ship off a box and wait for a few weeks until it gets fixed. Unfortunately, that's not a luxury that many smaller businesses can afford.

    This is what true "lock-in" (hardware AND software) looks like in the IT industry, and it's not pretty.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @01:20PM (#18263780)

      It's still a silly decision to try to use Macs for mission-critical business machines for just this reason. In my business, if I have a machine go down, I either run down to my local parts store to get the part I need, or I run down to the thrift store and pick up another used beige box for $50.

      What is silly is trying to run a business that way. Every place I've ever worked (even on a shoestring budget start-up companies) has done the same thing while dealing with Dell and Apple and Lenovo and our other suppliers of workstations. You standardize on a few suppliers (where I work now we have Apple and Lenovo). You keep a couple of spare machines as backups for when one breaks and give it to the user so they have no down time and ship off the machine to be fixed. When it is fixed you test it then it becomes one of the spares. When we had consumer Dell machine we had to keep a significant number of spares (10-20%) because failures were so common. With both Lenovo and Apple we have more like 2% extra to serve as spares. Even a day of downtime for a professional is about the same as the cost of a laptop when you figure how many tasks suddenly were derailed and waiting for some IT guy to try to swap parts and get something working again is absurd compared to a ten minute restore from backup. The cost evaluation of doing business some other way seems really high compared to the cost of having a few spare machines on hand.

      This is what true "lock-in" (hardware AND software) looks like in the IT industry, and it's not pretty.

      In real business it is common to standardize on a few suppliers so "lock in" the way you describe it is standard operating procedure and results in fewer problems for IT and better prices. Its also a lot easier to buy 50 extra power supplies for each manufacturer and leave them in all the conference rooms, rather than try to manage them from a dozen different vendors.

    • by iluvcapra (782887) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @02:16PM (#18264722)

      Now, if you have some fancy design business, where deadlines are measured in weeks or months, as opposed to minutes as they are in retail, then sure, you can probably afford to ship off a box and wait for a few weeks until it gets fixed.

      Sigh. My G5 under my desk has all of the sound effects for a certain arachnid-Stan Lee-related movie on it. If it dies and it can't get fixed, my dubbing stage will stop working within about an hour or two, and the dubbing stage is booked for around $1000/hour. "Fancy Design businesses" like advertising, commercial art and film production, have hideously short turnarounds and are ruinously expensive on a minutes and hours basis.

      AppleCare ain't great, good for home, but bad for what I do professionally. So how do we do it? Our tech support people take Macs seriously, they have a small inventory of spares for when they need to send one back, and they know enough to fix small things themselves. I've never needed mine replaced for anything, FWIW. Any large organization could handle supporting Macs, having IT people who take them seriously and keep up to date on their issues is the real problem.

      Oh and having a spare machines on site helps too ;)

      • by 7Prime (871679) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @04:14PM (#18266576) Homepage Journal
        That couldn't be more true. People think of us in A/V fields as having cushy deadlines, but in actuality, we have thousands riding on the line every hour. I work in TV advertising, and, unfortunatly, we're a PC oriented business (ClearChannel owned... figures). Our IT people are simply broadcast techs that have been given a bit of IT training, and it's excruciating. My coworker's beige box goes down a few times a day, now, and the engineers have no idea what to do with it, but they're too cheap to really get down and take a good look (I really don't trust them to do a good job anyway). We lose lots of time and money every day with computer problems. Having a good IT staff is everything. Unfortunately, in agency type businesses like this one (TV station with an attatched agency), the A/V producers are at the bottom of the totom pole, below the sales staff... which makes no sense since they simply need boxes that will run email, Word, and Excel. I guess that's why... our problems are much more complicated to fix, so the IT staff ignores us.

        That's why we A/V producers end up with Windows boxes... and we're incompatable with every other agency in town/state, because they were smart enough to use Macs. Sorry for bitching, I'm just sick and tired of Microsoft zealot IT staff who have no idea what they're doing. I'm not even allowed to run Firefox.
      • So did you tell your bosses that their work is dependent upon your consumer class computer under your desk? No network storage? No SAN? Gosh, I really hope you don't have a hard drive issue. Even a rebuild and restore is going to cost.
        • by iluvcapra (782887)

          So did you tell your bosses that their work is dependent upon your consumer class computer under your desk?

          Sigh deeper. Digidesign Pro Tools on the PC has a lot of issues, and no one uses it. Pro Tools can't use a SAN or NAS for storage. The LTO in the other room has my backups. If my drives die it's all my responsibility, but I have mirrors of most of my critical stuff. The motherboard or PSU dying is the big issue, and I can always swap out my HDD when that happens.

          I am unaware of a $3,000 "consume

          • It's still consumer class - not consumer, per se, but power user. Most of the components in it are consumer class. Don't get me wrong, I like it, gorgeous computer, but still - sitting under a desk, sucking up dirt and dust and carpet fiber, easily kickable, etc, etc, it's just a precariously positioned workstation. Powerful, but not something I'd entrust all of that to.

            The last place I was at was an all Avid house. Most of the workstations had around 2TB local storage, but you'd get your arse kicked, har

    • by Wdomburg (141264)
      It's still a silly decision to try to use Macs for mission-critical business machines for just this reason. In my business, if I have a machine go down, I either run down to my local parts store to get the part I need, or I run down to the thrift store and pick up another used beige box for $50. Having a machine down for weeks in not an option. Having a machine down for days, even, is unacceptable in my small business.

      You'd run a mission critical application on a $50 used machine? Personally I much prefer
  • Preamble: I've no qualms with outsourced tech support, that's /not/ the problem I'm complaining about here... I'm complainging about all the errors made in the handling of the issue.

    I was at work, a few years ago, and someone needed their Mac desktop serviced. I call up the Mac store at the local mall as my boss told me to.

    After a few rings, the rep picks up. I tell her my issue, stating that we want to bring the computer in, do we need to pay before hand, and can they take [payment type]. Her response? "So
  • I had a dual proc g5 tower that never really worked quite right and would lock up now and then. We bought 3 of them at once and the other 2 never had a problem. It took close to 8 months to get the problem solved and in the meantime I had to go out and buy another one as having people try to do work on a flaky machine is pretty hard to do.

    They pretty much replaced everything by the time they were done with it. One of the last techs just happened to have a new verision of the diagnostic disks that identif
    • You should of pushed for a new machine.

      In my experience, Apple will replace a machine entirely after three attempts at fixing it if they haven't fixed the issue. My personal experiences working with them was actually good, but that is another story.
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @01:35PM (#18264022) Homepage

    I was previously the CTO of a small marketing agency in NYC. We were an all-Mac shop. When we had serious trouble, calling Apple was not helpful. We came to rely on local companies like TekServe [tekserve.com] for business-critical support (though it's not cheap). Consider this free advertising for them: they were great.

    If you use Macs in business, I strongly advise you to find a local shop of Mac experts and rely on them.

  • Lack of spare parts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by klubar (591384) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @01:36PM (#18264036) Homepage
    Apple seems to be particularly bad about inventorying spare parts. Spares allocated to repairs are "unproductive" assets. Everytime I've had anything break on a Mac I first have to go through the painful consumer-type customer service, then argue for at least 20 minutes that we have paid for on-site service. Finally, they indicate that the parts are back ordered and it might be week or more before we can get a replacement.

    Maybe if it was some obscure part (xraid motherboard or old hardware) I could understand. But we got the same response when it was a standard MacPro diskdrive and on another occasion a power supply.

    Basically I would say that apple support is NOT ACCEPTABLE for busines use.
  • by real gumby (11516) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @01:40PM (#18264114)
    But of course everybody's MMV. But over the past 15 years I've had to call apple for support and it's always been great (note: I only buy Applecare for portables). With two exceptions, within a few minutes I've been scheduled for a box to be sent out (or a replacement part, e.g. a power adaptor). Painless. The two exceptions were, well, exceptional:

    1 - I spilled tea into my 2400c while in Japan. Luckily I was in Tokyo and the machine had been built in Japan (at that time most were still built in the USA) and Applecare called over and then sent me over to somewhere in the Akihabara where someone fixed my machine as I watched.

    2 - My machine went completely bonkers because the PCI bridge fried. How do I know? Err, a friend in Apple's hardware group diagnosed it for me (and cloned my disk for me!). Then I called, described only the symptoms, and politely went through the "fixit" script with the guy on the phone (try to restart, try a reset, etc etc). That was my longest call and still not incredibly long.

    Enterprisesupport has been different. I've only called for support on my Xserve three or four times but each time I got a phone call (or once mail) from someone in the engineering group. In fact one time I was on hold for a while because the tech at the other end went into a machine room, reconfigured a machine and duped the problem while I was on the phone (it was a booting problem when the a homedir was on a SAN disk). Pretty good.

    IBM's support has been quite good too, but they're about the only other one.

    Of course ideally the machines would never break and then support could be crappy or nonexistant...but nobody would know!
    • 2 - My machine went completely bonkers because the PCI bridge fried. How do I know? Err, a friend in Apple's hardware group diagnosed it for me (and cloned my disk for me!). Then I called, described only the symptoms, and politely went through the "fixit" script with the guy on the phone (try to restart, try a reset, etc etc). That was my longest call and still not incredibly long.

      What are users who don't have a man inside Apple supposed to do in this instance?

      P.S. You didn't actually say what the outcome o

      • by real gumby (11516)
        Well, I only mentioned this example to say the one time my machine was really acting strangely the guy reading the script to me at Applecare was nevertheless able to converge quickly.

        The "solution" was to replace the logic board. The main reason I went to see my friend was to get the bits off. I was worried about sending in any un-backed-up bits into apple as I've heard stories -- which I believe -- of machines with unrelated problems (e.g. power connector failures) having the disk pointlessly reformatted.
    • On the other hand, when it sucks, it can suck bad. See this crazy story [arstechnica.com].
  • I had my Gen1 MacBook Pro serviced 4 times...I bought it in August. Each time for the screen. It had spent about a third of its life in a repair depot. In January I just went apeshit after getting the computer back to find they had bent the display bezel. I got escalated up to Apple customer relations where a nice young man was able to replace my computer, but only after I sucked his dick. Yeah Apple's support is somewhat lacking...
  • by Snowtide (989191) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @01:57PM (#18264438)
    To quash any "Apple Fanboy" comments let me clarify. I work on both Macs and Windows machines, primarily Dells, I also have OSX client and server, 2003 Server, XP and Linux computers in my office at home.

    I spent the summer I earned my hardware certifications working as a university Mac hardware tech in the same room as a university Windows hardware tech. The thing I noticed is Dell's corporate support is on average much better than Apple corporate support, especiallya bouts ending out techs to your location, and that Apple's personal computer support is much better on average than Dell's.

    I watched the Window's hardware guy get his Dell hardware certifications to try and make his job dealing with Dell easier and still he got jacked around, lied to and screwed with. Make no mistake, this guy is a good hardware tech and has good people skills. But Dell's personal computer service support is just plain bad. On the other hand when I talk to Dell corporate support they are most often helpful and quick to send out parts. The Nebraska Federation for the Blind, as an example, figured this out long ago, let their members buy Dell computers through them so their members get corporate support.

    With Apple they usually only send parts to Apple certified techs so most people have to take their Macs to a Mac certified tech. Then you are at the mercy of the quality of the tech, this usually good but can be bad unfortunately.

    I think scale applies here, Dell sells a lot more computers than Apple, they can afford to set up techs employed directly by Dell to do service calls. Apple sells fewer computers so until the last few years most hardware repair guys who were Mac certified repaired Mac and other hardware as well in shops or as freelancers. That being said, it often comes down to the quality of the techs you are dealing with, no matter what company supports your computer. I make extra money by doing support/repair work for a variety of desktop hardware and much of my business comes from people frustrated with their current tech support. You have the right or people with the right, experience, knowledge and connections and you are in good shape. You don't and you can have problems. No mater what hardware you have.

    Apple in the corporate environment? Heck yes, some of my customers, print shops, publication shops and engineering firms, are on majority or all Mac environments, but like any hardware you need to have look ahead and know what your support options are. One thing I do for my customers is document who to call to get real and useful help in case I can't be reached. Otherwise, Apple, Dell, Gateway whatever you can end up getting jerked around and really frustrated as you lose time and money. Knowing who to call in a company gets you those parts overnighted to your location and connected to a good tech. Yes, I am a Mac user. No I don't hate Bill Gates, he keeps me in business as a tech support guy. Vista? You see problems, I smell billable hours.

  • by singularity (2031) * <nowalmart.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @02:19PM (#18264772) Homepage Journal
    You might try contacting Apple Enterprise Sales at (877) 412-7753.

    I would suggest any company looking into OS X solutions contact them. I believe they even have a separate support line you can reach.

    In addition, as other have mentioned, look at Apple Authorized Service Providers [apple.com] who can provide more personalized service.

    Also look at the Self-Servicing Account Program [apple.com].

    There are definitely resources out there for businesses to use. Going through the consumer support system obviously can be frustrating.
  • by Gybrwe666 (1007849) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @02:31PM (#18265036)
    As a disclaimer, I spent a large chunk of the 90's working for several large Apple Ressellers.

    However, I think the basic problem here is one of approach, rather than Apple's response.

    Let us put this in another way, altogether:

    You run a small business, and you use HP/Compaq machines.

    Who do you buy it from?

    Most small businesses will probably go to either a large VAR (CDW, etc.) or find a local reseller of HP, who also provide support.

    However, I suspect that it is safe to say that you probably aren't going to trundle down to Best Buy and purchase all of your hardware for you business from them.

    When you purchase a computer (including support) from someone who understands the needs of the business community, your response to any problem will be significantly different than purchasing from a consumer-oriented store.

    This is the same situation with Apple. Apple Stores (at least where I live) are in shopping malls. They are pandering to people who think that every computer should come with a free IPod, because that is their market.

    However, again, at least where I live, there are at least two Apple resellers that specialize in business and know perfectly how to support a business customer.

    At the time I was a tech, working for one of these companies, we supported every Fortune 1000 company in 40 miles who had a Mac in the office (which was most of them). When they called, we understood the difference between business support and everything else. When a marketing department for a Fortune 500 calls because their server died, it needs to be fixed now, not next week.

    Not only that, but we were properly equipped and trained to support the business community. At the time I did this, I knew virtually everything there was to know about upgrades, patches, memory fixes, and hardware that Apple sold. Not only that, but I knew the same thing about every 3rd party product that my customers used. This included Quark, Adobe's full line, Macromedia, and hundreds of other programs, including business support software such as 3270 emulators and 3rd party software to connect Mac's (this was mid-90's) to Windows networks and servers, as well as mainframes.

    The reality is that if you are purchasing your business hardware from a mall-store, you've made a serious error in the first place. Find a local reseller, preferably one who sells Mac's to businesses.

    The other support issue is one of being able to determine software versus hardware errors. I can't tell you how many times some bizarre piece of shareware that some idiot long-haired birkenstock wearing graphic artist installed that caused problems with memory. A less savvy tech could very well have spent a day or two RMA'ing the memory to Apple, rather than knowing enough about the systems to properly diagnose.

    In order to get business class support, you need to find a business class reseller. Relying on the home user support mechanisms won't buy you anything.

    My advice: get out a phonebook and find a few Apple resellers nearby. Call them up and maybe meet with them. If you have a decent number of machines (which when I did this was usually about >2) and agree to buy through them, I'll bet money they will assist you with issues. The other place they will be able to assist is in working with Apple's AppleCare process. They do this every day. They know how to get through the system, and have done it countless times.

    Bill
    • So can individual consumers order from these VARs and get such service for an added cost in addition to Apple Care 3yr warranty? I notice most stores sell for same price than Apple (how else would they compete with Apple.com?). I generally use my computer for personal use. I'm finishing school and can see myself (given my career choice) having to take a lot of work home. And I'm doing independent research on my computer. I cannot afford to lose a day's work on a computer. I'm also considering a MacPro after
  • I suggest for all your repairs you use Apple's mailing system. At no charge, Apple will 2-day/overnight a box to your house/business. It in this box that you place your computer, carefully packaged. After that, pull off the shipping label to expose the return label and either drop off the package or have it picked up by your courier.

    The packages often end up going to Memphis, TN where Apple has a dedicated staff of repair technicians for Apple hardware only. There are probably other places like this a

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @04:10PM (#18266528) Journal
    By this I mean, Apple doesn't deliver a general-purpose machine. Microsoft does. As much as I think Windows sucks, I have to admit, it sucks about the same for everything I could possibly want to do with it.

    OS X, however, is absolutely awesome as long as I'm doing exactly what Apple wants me to do... and as soon as I step outside that, it could be awesome, and it could be worse than Windows. Simple example: Tried remapping the keybindings for Expose -- I like what F9 does on my Powerbook, but F9 is mapped to keyboard brightness controls, and fn-F9 is annoying -- anyway, mapped it to Command-Semicolon, which works great (especially on Dvorak), except that OS X cannot remember this key combination across reboots.

    Sent a bug report. They sent me an email back saying that it was a known issue, and they were working on it -- and attached an NDA to that email. I hope I don't get sued for showing Slashdotters an Apple trade secret -- it's been almost a year since I reported that, and to my knowledge, they still haven't fixed a simple keymap problem.

    I've run into all kinds of similar, strange little problems -- some even deliberate. Take QuickTime -- viewing a video fullscreen is a "pro" feature, which is why I used VLC almost exclusively on that machine. Then there's things like Software Update -- great for updating your Apple products, but won't update anything else, and there aren't any decent package managers.

    Nothing was more illuminating than when it broke. The screen just went dead. Further experimentation suggests that the backlight is dead, and when the room illumination is just right, I can sort of see where a window is.

    I know the machine still works, because aside from that window, and being able to SSH in, I have hooked it up (via DVI) to my desktop monitor, and that works. However, I cannot set the desktop as a primary monitor -- I can either "mirror" the laptop display, making a nice little 1440x900 display in the middle of my 1600x1200 monitor, or I can make it span (a dual-monitor setup), using the full resolution of my desktop, but having half my display (the laptop monitor) completely dead. It also makes reinstalls pretty useless, as I haven't been able to get the desktop monitor to work with any boot CD I've tried, including the OS X install DVDs.

    And unfortunately, OS X knows exactly what resolution each monitor can handle. So no setting the mirrored display to 1600x1200 -- it won't go over what it knows the (dead) laptop monitor can handle.

    Anyway, first thing I did was check my AppleCare account that I assumed I had. I put the serial number into the AppleCare website... and didn't have an account. Hmm, odd... So, next time I was in a city with an Apple store (I live in rural Iowa), I took it to a Genius bar... and discovered I really didn't have an account, and it'd cost me some $200 to even have it looked at. Apparently, AppleCare is designed to be sold as a separate product, but you must then register it to your Mac over the phone or internet.

    Fair enough, but goddamned annoying. I dug up the AppleCare CD and used it to check my system for other problems while I got online and registered my Powerbook. Then I called Apple again, explained the problem, also mentioning a bad sector found by the AppleCare CD. They sent me a box -- next-day air or something, a beautifully-designed one-size-fits-any-Macbook box, with absolutely everything included. Tear off the address label and there's return postage there. Even nice little strips of tape inside the box, not to mention a piece of foam with perforations for every Macbook or Powerbook ever made -- tear it off on the right line and my Powerbook fit perfectly.

    Apple is amazing when you're inside-the-box.

    Mailed it off to them, and they called my cell phone a bit later and left me a voicemail, telling me they had determined it was "accidental damage", and not covered by my $240 AppleCare plan. I called them up and explained -- well, yes, I had dropped the machine a full year earlier, and that
  • A friend of mine got an AppleCare warranty extension for his video iPod. The thing came-up completely dead one day, just out of standard warranty but well within the extended warranty. Apple refused to service the iPod under warranty because the serial number on the plan had one digit incorrect. Apple admitted that the error was their fault, but still wouldn't service the iPod under warranty. They did refund the full cost of the extended warranty, but still sounds like poor form to me.
  • But I spent a grand total of 20 minutes on the phone when my Tibook broke, and they shipped me an overnight box the next day. The turnaround from call to getting a fixed laptop was under 5 days.

    Maybe it depends on how tough your problem was to diagnose?
  • by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @06:22PM (#18268176) Homepage Journal

    Not to play into the Mac baiting/idiolatry, but Apple does have some of the highest customer satisfaction numbers in the industry, year after year.

    I'm sure there will be dozens of horror stories posted about here Macs & Apple, we can do the same for any brand. The truth is in numbers and again, Apple leads the industry in customer satisfaction and retention.

    Your issue seems to be a mismatch between what you bought and the service you want.

    You didn't buy a system with a business support contract. Apple does have those, but they're not in the Apple Stores. Instead like every other large vendor they have a division dedicated to business customers & their specific needs.

    Instead you did the equivalent of going to BestBuy (albeit a much nicer looking one with staff far beyond any "Geek Squad" bufoonery) and are getting standard consumer service. Actually it's far better then you'd get from BestBuy et al, and if you sprang the extra $99 for AppleCare you'll get even better, but it's still walk-in service.

    Your complaint really has nothing to do with Apple per se and instead with consumer customer service. Replace "Apple" with "HP" or "Gateway" and the store with "Best Buy", "CompUSA", "Microcenter", or whatever, and suddenly your complaint becomes much clearer

    I'm sorry to hear you've had a bad experience with your Mac. I've friends who buy the kind of support you're looking for, where there is next-day service at their office for their Apple products. I've other friends who are certified in Mac repair, who give the kind of service you're looking for, show up, crack open your Mac, if they have the part handy replace it on the spot or if not retrieve it from a depot.

    Instead you purchased we'll-look-at-it/fiddle-with-it/send-away-for-part s/send-the-machine-away-for-repair.

  • ...if Apple doesn't consider you "Enterprise." Good luck is all I can say! My experiences with direct A/B comparison (a company with Dells running Microsoft, and Apples running OS X) shows that Apple is by far the LEAST efficient at providing hardware support. Their Hardware troubleshooting standards are ridiculous--they don't seem to have an "IT Pro" line--every caller is assumed not to know how to plug-in a network cable (or how to check and make sure the cable is connected, as I had one Apple Care rep
  • A month after I got my eMac (in June 2002, still using the same machine), weird things started happening. Random crashes, files moving around my desktop and renaming themselves. I tried whatever I could find in the online help files, but nothing fixed it.

    I called support (note, I had not bought any kind of applecare package, but this WAS only a month after purchase), and the guy had me remove each stick of RAM to test if one was bad. The best part was, after explaining to me how to get to the RAM, he beli

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