Apple failed me [Updated]
At the end of 2016, I found myself in need of a new laptop. Having never owned a Mac before, I was intrigued by the possibility of owning an Apple notebook. In the past, I never even considered a MacBook because they were too expensive. I'm not a rich man -- far from it -- but I justified the expense by telling myself it would be an investment. Apple's quality and service are legendary -- sure, I'd spend a lot up front, but the laptop would easily last me 5 years. Plus, it would integrate well with my iPhone and iPad.
And so, I opened an Apple credit card and bought a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar for about $2,000 -- an enormous amount of money for me. As someone who is often on the go, I opted for a 13-inch model for portability. For specs, I stuck with the Core i5 and 256GB SSD, but did upgrade the RAM to 16GB. I mean, you can't upgrade the RAM yourself, so it would be foolish to leave the base 8GB configuration, right?
I placed the order online, and after a few weeks, the laptop arrived at my home. And I loved it. The keyboard, which many folks hate, is my favorite aspect -- I can type very fast and accurately with it. The screen was beautiful, macOS was a joy to use, and from a performance perspective, it ran everything I needed it to without issue.
Not too long after getting it, however, my situation changed where I no longer needed to be on the go. Instead, I transformed the MacBook Pro into a desktop by connecting a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. I even propped up the laptop on a special stand to keep it safe and sound (it looks cool too).
For over a year, the MacBook Pro proved reliable and functional. It never left my desk, only ever serving as a desktop. And then last week happened. I woke the laptop from sleep and noticed an oddity on the bottom of the display. It looked dim, and on further inspection, there were horizontal lines going across. Oh no.
I contacted Apple Support, and they had me try different steps to fix it. I was dubious that software solutions would do anything as it was clearly a hardware issue, but I did them anyway. When they all failed -- as I knew they would -- the support team made an appointment for me at a local Apple Store to get it looked at.
Now, I was very hopeful about this appointment as I recently had an issue with my iPhone that was resolved to my satisfaction at the same store. You see, my brand new iPhone 8 Plus had a dead pixel right out of the box (yes, really). The employee that helped me that day was understanding and caring. I told him the dead pixel was a small thing, but it still bothered me. He agreed and told me I shouldn't settle for anything other than perfection. That day, they replaced the iPhone screen at no charge. I was so satisfied.
I expected the same sort of service with my MacBook Pro, so I woke up on 4/21/18 -- the date of my new appointment -- showered, shaved, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and damn near skipped to my car as I was looking forward to getting my MacBook Pro fixed. I walked through the JC Penney (this Apple Store is in a mall), saw the Apple logo, and smiled.
I went into the store and checked in with one of the employees. He instructed me to go sit on a box and wait. Yeah, rather than chairs, Apple has a collection of wooden boxes for customers to sit on for some reason. I chose to stand.
After a short while, my name was called and I was instructed to sit at a table and wait, as the person helping me would be out at any moment. After 5 or 10 minutes, a young woman came out looking fairly expressionless. I explained that the screen was having an issue, and how I was really sad about it, and she didn't really respond.
She didn't say "I'm sorry that happened" or "I will do my best to get this resolved". She just told me to power it on. And so I did. And I showed her the lines on the screen. She picked up the laptop, gave it a look, and said "looks like water damage to me." My heart sank. No, no, no. She was mistaken, I explained. I told her how it just sits on my desk and how I care for it -- no liquid was spilled on it.
She didn't care. She told me that it would be $475 to fix the screen, and if any water damage was discovered in the process, the price would be even higher. I felt like crying. She kept mentioning water damage in an accusatory way and making me feel bad.
At this point, I asked for a manager. She just said "OK" and walked away -- I assumed to get one. After a while, both she and the manager came out together, and he just reiterated the same thing. Nothing could be done, and it would cost $475. "Even if it is a defective screen?" I asked. He told me yes.
And so, I closed my MacBook Pro. Put it back into the carrying bag. Told them I would just live with it. They were totally fine with that. I left the store.
Understandably, defects can happen on all products, and Apple can't be expected to fix its devices for free forever. I get that. Still, I thought the company would have taken care of it since it is still fairly new and it is clearly a defect. More importantly, I expected the customer service to be exceptional, where the employee would show empathy and understanding. The poor service was the worst part of it all -- it made me feel like a fool.
I thought the premium I was paying when buying a MacBook Pro was for high quality hardware and legendary customer service. How could Apple fail me on both of those things? Sigh. You live and you learn. I'll just use the MacBook Pro with the defective screen as-is. The fact that I am still paying off a laptop with a bad display literally makes me nauseous. When it comes time to buy a new laptop in the future, however, you can be sure it won't be an Apple.
[Update] On May 12, Apple agreed to fix my MacBook Pro at no charge. I want to stress that when I reached out to them, I did not mention this article or BetaNews.
I have another appointment tomorrow May 13 at the same Apple Store, and I will update this article afterward, including how I achieved this turn of events.