As I wrote in a previous post and then deleted, I just got a new MacBook. Why did I delete that part of the post?
Well, I as soon as I fired the MacBook up, I noticed that the screen had a weird flicker to it. Sort of a horizontal static that would show up. It didn’t render the computer unusable, but it was very noticeable. In fact, it was the first thing I noticed. Not good.
Being a librarian, I quickly researched the problem with a very complicated search string on Yahoo! — “macbook flickering screen“. It seems that lots of MacBooks have come down with this problem. It may be some kind of issue related to the logic board or something. Whatever. I was disappointed and pissed, and considered just going and getting a refund. But, I really wanted a laptop. And I wanted a Mac. So my choices were limited. I decided to try an exchange, and see how a different machine worked out.
The next day I went back to the store and was there when they opened the doors. I’m sure they love to see a guy with a box and a frown on his face waiting for them to open the doors.
The Apple Store is at Northpark Mall, in Dallas. Northpark is the rich, snooty mall with the high-end stores, and lots of plastic surgery victims walking around. The Apple Store is located near the Nordstrom department store, if that means anything to you. To me it means that they probably get a lot of wealthy but computer-illiterate people coming in to get Macs and iPods, and they have no way of knowing (other than my Independent Trucks tshirt, beat-up jeans, and worn out skate shoes) that I’m not one of those people. Maybe my wife’s stylish leather jacket confused their social-class identifier program, or maybe I don’t look as young, hip, and cool as I think I do.
So I walked in and was greeted by a friendly 20-something. I said “I bought this yesterday, and I’m very disappointed and dissatisfied.” I explained the flickering screen. I could see in his body language that “Oh boy, an old guy who thinks his computer is broken” look. It may also have been, to some extent, the “It’s Sunday, we just opened, and my first customer is mad. Maybe I should go home sick” look. Anyway, he got the manager on duty, and she assigned another employee to examine the computer with me to see what was going on.
Now of course, the flickering wasn’t constant. The light in the store is really weird. Sort of a low, warm light, probably designed to make the giant Apple monitors look just fricking amazing — which they do — but it made it hard to see my little MacBook screen’s problem. I stood there with this young guy, activating applications and putting a load on the CPU, trying to get the effect. Nothing. I started feeling like an idiot. But my wife and I both new, for sure, that there was serious defect. A couple of minutes passed, then I could see him react. Yes — he saw it. Something was not right. The manager walked by and he gave her a subtle nod to indicate that yes, it was in fact fucked-up.
I talked to the manager, and agreed that I’d like to just exchange the machine and try a new one. The operating system is cool. The user interface is elegant. It is fast. I want the machine — but I want one that works correctly.
They quickly did the exchange. I appreciate their help. I guess my only gripe about the service was that there was really no “We’re really sorry you had a problem” acknowledgement that I had gotten a bum computer and my stoke had been harshed. They did the exchange quietly, efficiently, but I guess as a customer I didn’t feel quite like my ass had been kissed enough. It was efficient customer service, but it didn’t leave me feeling like I was king. What would make me feel better? I think if you buy an expensive piece of equipment and have to bring it back the next day because it is clearly defective, the retailer/manufacturer should, as a sign of goodwill and confidence in their product, throw in an extra year of warranty. In this case, “Apple Care”. Or how about even “Sorry for your trouble, here’s a laptop case. We hope you enjoy the machine”.
It was kind of a strange experience. After doing my online research on the flickering screen phenomenon, I knew it is pretty wide-spread. Apple has to know about it. I understand the need to control the image of your brand. But when something like this happens, why not just recall the affected computers before they are purchased, fix them, and send them on their merry way again. Oh well.
The new machine, so far, seems fine. No flickering screen thus far. I will be putting it through hell in the next two weeks to really test it before the “return by” date is reached. I’m really hopeful that it will work out. It is a nice machine.
I have to say, however, that my initial huge and enthusiastic stoke for the machine was really beat-down by this experience. I still like the machine, but the stoke has been replaced by feeling of apprehension — wondering if the problem will happen to this machine. At this point I couldn’t recommend to a friend that they buy a MacBook — not with total enthusiasm.