back to article Burned by a MacBook

Can you run a business using a MacBook? No, is my answer. My experience with a new MacBook, which turned out to be a complete and utter lemon, and my battle with Apple's derisory customer service nearly sent me bananas, lost me thousands of pounds worth of freelance journalism and consultancy work, and left me with a burn mark …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    are you doing trying to burn DVDs and CDs? The feature is clearly just unimplemented so that Apple could push out a better product and I'm sure it'll be fixed in a future upgrade. As for the cable, it's obvious that you shouldn't use electrics anywhere that they could start a fire and just because your cable burned and a few others, it's not the majority of users, in fact, every review I've seen of the MacBook is amazing! Just because the Register hates Apple, they write a new article knocking wonderful Mr. Jobs every second day. What a joke.

    As for getting a courier, it IS rocket science, and complaining about the logic board is silly when it lets you do so much cool stuff. Look at PCs, their hard drives burn out every couple of days!

  2. Louise

    Not surprised

    Apple are completly useless at fixing their products. I have an iPod nano, after a few months the headphone sockets stopped working (no apparent reason, not dropped it on the floor, off a 5 story building or in a lake), did the sensible thing and tried several different headphone, including some of apple's own. Nothing. So The courier turned up and took it off to the repair center. As directed I had put a note in with it to tell the monkeys at the repair center exactly what was wrong. I got it back a few days later telling me it was fine and no, there wasn't a problem with the battery. Battery?!?! I rang up again and again and finally got it fixed. That was a year ago and I'm still waiting on my 'compensation'. Next time I think I'll avoid the iPod section.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wow, now that's what i call a rotten apple experience. If that really is a common thing they should do a recall on it!

    There are a few things in this experience though that can't really be blamed on Apple - a long drive to the nearest store; um... yeah why did you choose to get an Apple laptop then if that's your closes service location.

    Not to mention if it's a critical business tool, then why buy something with a consumer-level support agreement? I don't know what the different level's of Apple service are, but in the IBM/Lenovo world you pick something like Onsite Next Biz Day or even 4-hour response and be done with it.

    If you don't, like this woman did, then well - duh... she tried her luck skipping a business grade warranty on a business tool and got burned. (lol...)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your burns are nothing...

    ...compared to the flaming you're going to get from all the Apple fanbois who are about to descend and blame you for all the problems....

    "Charging on the carpet, under the sofa, clearly you're not cool enough for a Mac. You should have hardwood floors and Arne Jacobsen chairs." and similar drivel

  5. Brian Miller

    And after all that...

    You still are working on an apple. BTW I have 7 million pounds "locked up" in an african nation, if you were to send me just £2500....

    Only joking, but you are a sucker. P.T. Barnum only wishes he had met you.

    Enjoy your non-user servicable, non upgradable piece of crap laptop.

    Women! they can be soo lame sometimes.

  6. Paul

    Oh my God Captain !!!

    Fanboys on the Radar, HUNDREDS OF THEM !!!

  7. Mark Fell-Crook

    Boo Hoo

    So you got a lemon. Boo Hoo.

    Telling people you can't run a business off an Apple because of this is just stupid.

    I'm sure you could have borrowed/rented one for a month. Where are your business contingency plans?

    Would you have gone fifty-whatever days without a car if that had failed? No, you would sort something out wouldn't you.

    Then you complain about a free upgrade to a MacBook Pro? Well there's just no pleasing you is there?

    Get Real.

  8. Greg

    Wait for it...

    Wait for it....

    Before the flame war starts, I personally wouldn't have touched the "agreement" for no further compensation. While I'm not the kind of person who sues for tripping up in the street, their incompetence cost you a lot of money. And I wouldn't have wanted another Mac after the experience with the first one! If the first one tried to set me on fire I wouldn't trust the second one not to. My first laptop was a Packard Bell (I know, I know!) - they were swiftly added to the list of Brands I Just Don't Buy. I know it's just me and my argumentative self, but I'd have told them to shove the Mac sideways and send me a cheque for my lost earnings.

    I've heard some depressing things about Apple customer service. This hasn't helped my views, TBH. You just gave me another reason to resist the iExistence.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I had a pound for...

    If i had a pound for every time i've heard a story like this for any kind of computer on the market i'd be a millionaire.

    The authors case is unfortunate, and is presented in a somewhat melodramatic fashion. One has to question the sensibility in leaving a computer to charge under a sofa and on the carpet, aside from potential heat issues it could cause, it also presents a fire risk, something which may have also contributed to the state of electrical damage which occured.

    Thing is manafacturing defects and product issues happen to people in general, as do servicing issues. It's just a case of lucking out to have it happen to you, and yeah it would be highly annoying, but keep some perspective.

    If it was really a common issue you'd hear a general uproar about it and it would generate a fair degree of publicity, but it hasn't, because for all the people who may have issues, it's still not that common.

    Apple's done recalls before for their batteries, but it's something of great expense to a company, and when it only affects a small percentage of people it's often measured as a minor business risk compared to the expense of a product recall

    Also sure there was a fair bit of hassle, but the machine the writer ended up with was a far superior machine by comparison, and will be a much greater investment, so in some respects the writer is lucky to have such issues in terms of short term hassle, but long term gain.

    And really.... did it take this for the author to realise that leaving electrical equipment near flammable material is not the smartest idea?

  10. Wonderkid

    I had similar experience with my MacBook!

    I thought I was the only one. a) My Magsafe power connector failed at the same spot although I got it replaced before it caused any damage. b) My CD/DVD burner is very unreliable. c) My hard drive crashed several months ago losing ALL my data so I had to use a weeks old backup. d) The machine has failed to wake up from sleep on many occasions. e) One side of the trackpad failed. f) Now the screen on the laptop fills with garbage when using an external monitor although simply moving the mouse pointer to the Macbook screen fixes that. Now the clincher, my first Macbook failed and was replaced under warranty by Micro Anvika, who do their best. This is my second and it has already had most components replaced. Apple refused pay for a new hard drive unless they could have it back, I refused on the grounds I wanted my private data to remain in my hands until I could afford the £900 data recovery fees. Anyway, it's all very complicated but the bottom line is that while Micro Anvika handle repairs and warranty returns very well, Apple (UK) are a nightmare to deal with and do as little as they can to assist. Being my machine is just a week away from a year old, it will be interesting to see how they handle repairing it's current faults.

  11. Andrew Kay


    ..should have bought a dell laptop instead! :o)

  12. Chris Thorpe

    Elementary advice

    Given the number of Reg incendiary laptop stories, most readers (let alone a Reg writer) know better than to leave any laptop (even the rare non-explosive variety) charging overnight on a carpet, underneath a sofa. Laptops & chargers get warm. Airflow helps keep them cool. Common sense really.

  13. Tobin

    Sounds like you've been unlucky

    It happens.

    What's the story got to do with "Can you run a business using a MacBook? No, is my answer."?

  14. Jeff Paffett

    Nobody's perfect

    The sad truth is that most companies these days seem to have crap so called 'customer support'. I guess some bean counter decides that it's cheaper to piss off a few people, rather than offering first class support.

    Unfortunately, most computers are made in the far east these days and you inevitably seem to get the occasional turkey.

    One point I would make is that if your business depends on use of a computer it's a bit risky to rely on just one machine. You should really have a backup machine in case of problems.

  15. jurgen


    Hi, I'm a freelance writer who bought a faulty computer - probably a first-generation model with problems that have already been fixed in production models. How much will you pay me to whinge about my experiences to your readers? I don't mind sounding like a complete muppet, and because this is an "opinion" piece, I won't have to be fair and balanced, and provide equal coverage to the other side of the story. Thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing from you.

  16. Edward Lynch-Bell

    Apple laptop power

    Apple laptop power supplies have been and, unfortunately, it seems, always will be terrible. I went through 5 in 3 years on my G3 Powerbook, 2 in 2 years on a G4 iBook and I am on my second in 15 months on my mac book pro. It is pretty much my main reason for buying apple care, so that is an extra wedge of cash for apple upfront for a terrible aspect of an otherwise good product.

    What seems to be inadequate is the strain relief grommet. They end up not doing what they should and allow the cables to fatigue and short and this has been the case from time immemorial. They may not look as pretty but the grommets on the Samsungs I use for windows never seem to fail.

  17. Ash

    Product recall

    Never seen Fight Club? Jack (the main character) applies "The Formula" to car write-offs for his company.

    a = The total number of products in the field

    b = The probability of failure

    c = Mean out of court settlement

    a x b x c = X

    If X is less than the cost of a recall, it's not done. I don't know if this is the real process, but it makes a hell of a lot of sense from an economic standpoint.

  18. David Shaw

    Some people are nearly arrested

    with similar computer frustrations....

    I refer you to

    though it doesnt quite specify if it was a shiny Apple product or a generic Wintel box. I suspect the latter as of course the Apple Sudden Motion Sensor would have of course deployed the Steve iParachute.

  19. John Bayly

    No such thing as bad PR?

    The Reality distortion field is now available to the plebes in the company too.

    Obviously Apple believe that there's no such thing as bad PR.

    When I did tech support Iomega (not a high point of my career) if a customer said they were a journalist, we were to ignore stats and help them as much as possible.

    At least that way if somebody was writing a review of some of our hardware and it blew up, they would say (in theory) that they were treated properly.

    Apple know that can get away with anything.

  20. Chad H.

    I'm sorry, call this journalism?

    El Reg? Whats going on?

    This article is clearly of poor quality. I mean, come on, its of the standard I'd expect to find on a mac-bashing forum. Then you wonder why Steve Jobs doesn't invite you to his Playmate parties?

    So you bought a lemon, its regrettable, but no company, no matter how much time and money they spend in QA can ensure that every machine comes out fine. IBM, Lenovo, HP, Dell, they've all had their fair share, but I've never seen an article bashing them on the Register.

    Terrible service? Okay, some things could have been done better, but Apple didn't have to compensate you for the burn. But you managed to get a laptop almost twice the value of the one you bought, I'd call that a result! Okay, you had to fight a little, but again, Apple didnt have to do squat, simply repair, refund, or replace.

    What result exactly would have made you happy? Oh, heres a £1500 laptop and your money back? Come on.

  21. jai


    i've been using my MacBook almost every day since i bought it the week they were released last year - it's never had a problem and has so far failed to burn me alive. maybe i should take it back to Apple and complain so they can replace it with a dodgey one that i can then use to swizzle a free MacBook Pro out of them

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...the mac came back, the very next day!

    Genius customer service debacle story!

  23. N1AK

    Would you like some cheese with that


    I'm no apple fan, and perhaps their is a bigger issue here regarding apple laptops and their customer service, but you manage to make yourself sound like an ass, to such an extent I can't feel any pity for you.

    And as has been said, if you rely on your laptop so completely (and have access to no other computer AT ALL) then why didn't you get a decent support contract? Their are literally so many ways you could not of lost that 55.5 days, that the only explanations are your retarded, or your completely over reacting to try and get more out of them in compensation.

  24. Rob

    Not to sound like a fanboy...

    Seems to me that you can't run a business full stop, never mind what laptop you have. If you really did turn away thousands of pounds worth of work you should have had a contingency plan for an IT failure, and backups of all the data you said you lost. You can't blame your poor planning on apple - they didn't help the situation but since you were whining about having to act as their personnel manager it seems a tad hypocritical to expect them to be your contingency for free. What if the power to your house had failed and you'd been left with a drained battery and no method of charging? Would you start off saying "Can you run a business using electricity? No is my answer"

    The whole tone of this "article" is whiny mac bashing, which is just as bad as the irritating mac zealots.

  25. Cyberspice

    On a similar vein don't buy Dell for business they're rubbish!

    My previous Dell works laptop killed its hard drive within a week. Luckily we had on site service otherwise I would have been without it for a week. Shortly after wards a second drive failed. Then the power supply failed. Eventually the main logic board failed. All of this within six months. I never got around to trying out the DVD burner!

    So Ms Turner I humbly suggest you don't buy a Dell either. Or live with the fact that some people do get lemons and that if you have a business you should always have a back up which is why I have a cheap second hand G4 Tower at home and backup data on to a second external harddrive.

    Incidentally I've had my iBook for 2 years now and I've never had a problem with it. However I've never buried it in the shag pile at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a cellar with no stairs and with a sign on the door saying beware of the leopard!

  26. MattCasters

    Support contract

    This just goes to show that a decent support contract is not optional if you buy a computer for work. This is unrelated to Apple and applies to all brands of computers. What *is* related to Apple is that I didn't buy from Apple because I couldn't get "on-site next business day" support contract from them.

    Enough said.

  27. Richard


    The exact same thing happened to my own MacBook Pro power cord in October last year, Apple were quick to send me out a replacement (once I had given them my card details as guarantee I'd send the old one back).

    Then they lost my return and charged me for the Power Supply, then they suddenly found it a week later and refunded me the money.

    Then recently at work 2 of our MBP adapters have done the same thing, this time Apple replaced them without taking a payment guarantee. They've also changed the design where the cable goes into the Mag Safe bit very slightly. There's now alot more plastic covering the wire and I've not had a problem since. However they still won't admit there's a design flaw.

  28. PaulK

    Everybody knows that...

    ...if your hardware is critical to your business you buy a maintenance contract. This is why Dell is so popular - nothing to do with the operating system at all. Sounds like somebody needs to do running your own business 101.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You're just not the right kind of person and the computer rejected you. Macs are not for everybody.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    User buys a relatively expensive piece of kit, which turns out to be faulty and then is fucked about by the manufacturer in an amateurish way.

    Somehow this is her fault ?

    Admittedly the article is a little whiny - but I think I'd be whining too if I had bought a laptop from a company who can't even organise a f'king courier.

  31. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Reality distortion field

    Well, apart from those who have already posted (some, in feats of bravery, anonymously), who are plainly either idiots or just trolling for reactive comments, there are some points worth considering:

    Firstly, Rob has a very good point about not relying on anything in business. Put simply, if it's vital to your business then you must have a fallback plan available otherwise when (not if) it fails your business will be hosed.

    As for comparing a laptop to a car is pretty much nonsense because you can always fall back to public transport, taxis or hire cars - the provision is already there and as a car driver you don't need to make sure you have a spare car on your drive the entire time. Even with laptops, it's possible to lease them for a short period of time or, failing that, just borrow somebody else's.

    Likewise, a little (OK, a *lot*) less reliance on one particular vendor or application goes a long way. A computer is just a tool and whatever you do *shouldn't* be dependent on any particular manufacturer's implementation of the tool - you wouldn't find builders stopping work for 55 days just because their Bosch drill failed to work and they only had a Black and Decker at hand (Ok, you might, but that's another matter with builders altogether!). Likewise if you use an Apple laptop you shouldn't rely on either the laptop working perpetually (because it won't) and Apple supporting it perpetually (because they won't). There's a lot to be said for regular backups (which you wisely undertook), and storing data in a standard data format that allows you to use a.n.other tool to continue working.

    As for reprehensibly bad customer service and shoddy product design and manufacturing, why do people keep on putting up with this and, more to the point, why are others so blind in their love of a particular vendor (regardless of any failures) that they blindly refuse to recognise that some people have problems or that manufacturer X's new product may actually not be very good?

  32. Joe

    Statutory rights

    I'm not sure what legal consumers' rights you have in the US, but here in the UK I dare say you'd have grounds to demand a complete replacement of the whole unit - certainly by the time the display started to flicker!

  33. Tom Peach

    I'm repeating the sentiments of many but....

    Why on earth did you buy a £700 Mac with no support contract when it is business critical for you?

    I bought a Dell Latitude, not because I use it for business, because i wanted the better build quality than the Inspiron. It came bundled with next day on site, which i didn't need, but there was no option to remove it.

    The laptop had its share of problems, for a start the casing wasn't straight. This is almost impossible to prove over email, but the thing didn't sit flat on the desk. I mailed Dell, no real urgency on my part, a bloke came to fix it the next day. The screen developed a fault down one side, not sure if it was my fault, bloke came to fix it next day. The battery failed and started to only half charge, new one sent out to me the next day.

    What would have been the financial implication of me being without my laptop for a week? £0

    What was the cost of each callout? £0

    What was the additional cost of this service? No idea, bundled with the laptop, i think about £200-£300 extra for the full 3 years on site support.

    If you can get next day support for this kind of price, and you opted to buy something else, then you deserve all you get. Yes, the laptop might have burnt your house down, or might have injured your family, but claims against Apple are handled by the courts, take months at best, and don't help you get working again.

    I'd actually suggest you buy a second laptop, for the sake of <£1000 you can pretty much guarantee you'll be able to able to work when you need to.

  34. Luke Wells

    There is a reason why PC's are good for business critical applications

    Phew..... just beaten my way through the mac fanboys.

    I don't have any good reason to dislike apple computers, but there is a good reason why we use 100% generic white box pc's (not even things like Dells)

    If ANYTHING went wrong with ANY of the PC's or servers in here, I could have pretty much any fault fixed and be back up and running within the hour.

    Why? Because there are 4 independant PC shops, a Maplin and a PC World within 1 mile of the office. Because all our equipment is generic white box, there is not a single component that I could not go out and get from at least one of the above places.

    Wintel based laptops are probably no better then apple laptops, as you always need to send laptops off to specialist repair companies, so like I say, for anything critical to the business it is must to use generic PC's

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If you were a US citizen, you would more likely have gone straight for the compensation. Getting an electric shock and being burnt is simply not acceptable. If you had a heart condition or suffer from epilepsy, it could have been serious.

    In all my years, I've never heard of someone getting literally burnt by their computer as it spontaneously combusts. It is dangerous and they should issue a recall of the power supplies.

    As for leaving a laptop under the couch, I'm sure loads of people do it for security reasons when leaving a room unattended (ie burglars looking through the window). Do all laptops ship with specific safety instructions about not doing this?

    As for components failing, muppet customer service, and dodgy couriers, this is all standard fare that we all have to deal with at one time or another. So get over it.

  36. Brian Milner

    Recipe for you

    If life gives you lemons (or turkeys) ...


    Smoked Lemon Turkey

    1 (14- to 16- pound) turkey

    1/2 cup lemon juice

    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

    1/2 tablespoon thyme

    1/2 tablespoon ginger

    1/2 tablespoon rosemary

    1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper

    Very small dash of garlic powder

    Take about 3 cups of mesquite or hickory chips and soak in water for about an hour. When you cook a larger bird such as a turkey you need to use a water pan circled by hot coals and wood chips. Get your coals all fired up and spread them in a circle around pan filled with water and some citrus juice of your choice. The trick to using wood chips and chunks is to bring the chips to smoke by placing them on hot coals and when smoke appears move to a cooler spot in the grill before adding your meat.

    Rub the turkey down with some olive oil and lemon then spread spice mixture over the bird. (I suggest that you do this the night before you cook, but if time does not permit, then just do it while your charcoal is getting ready.) Place turkey breast side up on the center of the grill directly above the pan of water and juice. Place a meat thermometer in the turkey without touching a bone. Cook to an internal temp of 175 degrees. It could take up to 6 hours depending on the size of your bird and the temperature of the coals.

  37. Tim S

    Some DR Ideas

    1). Unless you've only recently become a freelance journalist (entirely possible), you presumably had an old computer this Macbook replaced. Use that as your DR machine.

    2). Your local library will have some PCs you can use.

    3). Internet café?

    4). Typewriter.

    5). Pad of paper and pencil. You may need a pencil sharpener, don't say you weren't warned.

  38. Dave

    Awful Customer Services

    I am currently going through a similar trail and tribulation with BT, in an attempt to become a customer and have an active landline phone.

    The stress is on BECOME, i am not currently a customer, i am trying very hard to give them my money but they are making it as difficult as possible!

    Once i do get it sorted i may submit an article to El Reg (if you'll take me!) In the meantime you can read about it on my flat

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hint...If you want compensation, give them a couple of chances to put in decent off, failing that sue.

    Here's what I'd do.

    PC goes faulty. return. Goes faulty agin, return stating, in writing, that if there are any more issues, you will want a refund. They of course will argue, but ignore then. Then if it catches fire, don't be polite. Write aletter stating that you want a refund an compensation. They have x days to provide a satifactory outcome.

    If they fail sue, under a personal injury claim. They will settle out of court to aviod bad publisty. Jobs a good un.

    You chose not to, your fault.....

  40. Tom Peach

    RE: dangerous

    "If you were a US citizen, you would more likely have gone straight for the compensation. "

    Haven't you heard, Brits don't have the same rights as US Citizens, in the UK is is seen as acceptable for electrical products to occasionally electrocute the user.

    Personally unless the thing had put me in hospital I'd do anything to avoid the royal pain in the arse of taking somebody to court.

    Sometimes stuff goes wrong and is dangerous, if i live to tell the tale the last thing I want to do is waste the next few months pursuing it legally just so i can say "i told you so"

  41. Chris Fryer

    Play your cards right

    I'm impressed you weren't tempted to play the "I'm a tech journalist, so sort this out sharpish or I'll write you up" card. If you did, and this was the result, heaven help us non-journo types.

  42. Frank

    What What?

    Get a grip macboy...

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Electricity 101

    "As for leaving a laptop under the couch, I'm sure loads of people do it for security reasons when leaving a room unattended (ie burglars looking through the window). Do all laptops ship with specific safety instructions about not doing this?"

    Loads of people also have their houses burnt down too or have fires start. but doesn't make it the sensible thing to do. Electronic gear generates heat, and charging units especially so, this is nothing specific to Apple, or even computers, it's just electronics. Leaving electronic equipment around fabrics or giving the unit no room to breathe is asking for trouble.

    If it was really a security measure she could've powered off the device entirely and disconnected it from the power. She endangers the life of others under the same roof as hers by creating a situation no Health & Safety officer would ever consider acceptable, as if even a spark flew (which any electronic device has the capability of doing) and it was in immediate proximity to something flammable a fire could have erupted.

    I suspect this woman would put a hot iron in a clothes cupboard too unless it implicity had a large warning written in bright red text and all in upper case advising her otherwise.

    To the person who posted regarding buying a generic PC, that would be a fair point if the issue was replacing/repairing parts at ones own expense/time, but this is dealing with product faults, and warranty replacements, so having a generic PC would not be any more beneficial in this case, if anything, any problems which occur usually then become entirely your own issue.

    And yeah to re-iterate the point others here have said, what kind of smart business person would buy a business critical product and not protect it against any form of risk. To do so is to label the product as having no value to the running of the business. And indeed, intelligence would dictate that one should keep alternatives/back-ups on-hand for where issues do arise so business can continue to be run as smoothly as possible.

  44. Anton Ivanov

    You should not run a business of any laptop period

    Is this El Reg or Sex in the City? In fact this article reads exactly like the Sex in The City episode where the renouned lead starlet had a "rotten apple" experience. She tries to use an apple laptop for "business" as well. And it gets entertaining when the apple goes rotten. In fact, her saying "It is an apple, does it need backups, I though only PCs need that" should be regularly played to all apple fans.

    Back on the topic - well, the truth is that regardless of the brand any laptop is not suitable for business solely on its own. It is a device to provide mobility at the expense of reliability and durability. Anyone in his sane mind should never keep business data on it long term. Sync it to the server, go, get work done, sync again. And if the mobile lemon goes rotten a cheap and cheerful refurbished business laptop can be obtained for sub-250 pounds nowdays. For a business which needs everyday availability that is well within contingency provisions.

  45. Lloyd


    Firstly, that's quite poor English for a journo.

    Secondly, imagine how bad it would have been if you hadn't waved the "but I'm a journalist" flag in their face, they'd have ignored you, so you're not that badly done by.

    Thirdly, a word of advice for anyone in this sort of situation, if they don't resolve to your satisfaction within what you deem a considerable timescale then go here:, it costs a couple of quid to get the home addresses of the board of directors and they really hate being send stroppy letters about how poor their company is at their home address. You'd be suprised how quickly excrement can flow downwards and how quickly things get resolved.

  46. michael branagan

    Bad Apples

    Got to admit I've had problems with both my ibook g4's and thank God for the warrantee. I've never had a true lemon, but close, though. I've read somewhere that, industry-wide, 21% of laptop and 7% of desktops have warrantee issues. This says a lot about the wisdom of a laptop as your only cpu. I suspect Apple is no different.

  47. Drew Furgiuele

    See right through all this...

    El Reg doesn't get an early iPhone review, much to the chagrin of all involved.

    El Reg flames the iPhone, to spite Apple. Determines that we're "zombies" for wanting it... er, sorry, being told we want it.

    El Reg further continues Apple bashing by pointing out some reviewer/writer/hack has a bit of bad luck with an Apple laptop.

    The correlation we're supposed to walk away with? Apple makes bad stuff.

    The real story? Apple doesn't bow to El Reg, so screw 'em.

  48. Ian Watkinson


    Surely this belongs on the Consumerist rather than the register, or are we now taking the SMB to include ill prepared one man (woman) bands as part of the S now?

    As other have point out.

    1/ DR A mac mini booting to your external cloned drive, keep working

    2/ A dell with next day on site repair option.

    3/ Post it back to apple, via a courier, to save you driving?

    I'm also missing the part where you decided to go to trading standards regarding your dangerous equipment, and the burns it gave you, injury lawers r us would have had a field day.

    You got upset, you caved, now you're moaning?

    Come on el'reg, this is nothing but a poorly described rant and belongs on usenet rather than on the regsiter...

  49. Rob


    .... recipe, thanks for that, also made me hungry so must go for lunch now.

    Oh and yeah what all the others said before, business use means you should have had a contingency plan and sorry you expect far too much from company/customer service reps, your living in 2007. Todays modern society means you aren't entitled to anything and just because you paid for something doesn't mean they have to treat you any different to a dog, wake up to the modern world, it's a crap hole and customers come 2nd from last (I think students are last and they only just rank above out of work actors/actresses who have got to be bottom of the pile).

    Hmmmm... smoked turkey

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Common Sense

    "I stressed that I often leave my laptop charging overnight under the sofa on the carpet"

    Lets see - insulate your laptop with carpet and a sofa whilst on charge, like any laptop (or computer for that matter) it gets hot, it should be placed on a firm surface (like a desk) to allow airflow to all areas - thats why it has feet! I can understand the reason to hide it and that it might fit snugly under the sofa. Its akin to placing night lights on a plastic bath and wondering why you end up with a house fire.

    So you slowly cooked your laptop every night and wonder why it failed bit by bit, you ignored the case going yellow and the screen failing and it appears it eventually melted internal wiring causing the power lead to eventually over heat and short out. Surely you notice it was hot when you removed it from under the sofa?

    I guess your house doesn't have rcb's otherwise it would have popped them long before you got injured.

    No wonder its a nanny state these days, some people have no common sense.

    All I can say is RTFM... a few excerpts from it.

    Important: read all the installation instructions (and the safety information in Appendix B....) carefully, before you plug your computer into the wall socket.

    Apprendix B

    remoce the power cord, battery etc if :-

    you suspect your computer needs service or repair

    The power adaptor may become hot.....Always allow adequate ventilation around the adapter....when possible place on a hard surface to dissipate heat. is normal for the bottom of the case to get on a flat stable surface...

    the bottom of the mac is a cooling surface that transfers heat.... is raised... to allow airflow....

    Warning: Do not place your Mac on a pillow or other soft material when it is on

    Sounds like Apple did everything they could except suggest that you shouldn't be entrusted with one of their products as you clearly aren't capable of operating it correctly (or any computer for that matter). Apple could have said hard luck you did not follow the instructions in the manual instead they sorted it out.

  51. Mel Carnahan

    No pun intended

    These things aren't Made in Japan. They're designed in some California sprawl wasteland and built somewhere where fish contain more antiobiotics than hospitals. The same thing happened to my Macbook Pro. Stop your whining and buy a new one. No matter how you look at it Windows is far worse and there is no other real option for a Linux or BSD pre-loaded and software-supported notebook on the market. So the hardware is a writeoff. You're paying for the free software. And free software is worth paying for.

    It's people like you who drive up the cost of Macs. Buy a new one and stop whining. You can't run a business without multiple redundant computers and backups anyway.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, are the Apple-hating whine-pieces

    now becoming a daily feature on El Reg? Irksome.

    So there is this person with a business critical application, but that person is the type of user that

    - has no backup of data

    - has no fallback hardware to use said backup with (while every £150 used iBook would do)

    - stores & charges things that might get hot in badly ventilated areas, near flammables, with toddlers around, and thinks this to be so much on the "okay side" of things to even tell it to the tech on the phone, who afterwards probably proceeded to bash his forehead with a blunt object

    - will happily chime in on the Magsafe/Powersupply "issue" that brought up a lot of "I've been abusing my cable all day long and now its broken" types the last couple'o'days, pointing to a site that cannot even give the total number of reports

    - uses a very strange writing posture that allows to come in contact with, or just even get close to the Magsafe connector during normal use. Look at where that plug sits on a Macbook, how in the world can you rest your arm there?

    - will still whine, publicly, after ringing every bell, about a dud computer that has been replaced with a muich more expensive model. total, not the person who should be allowed near a computer, especially a notebook, anyway, or anything working on electricity for that matter.

    You will get no love for this. I don't consider me an Apple fanboy, yet whenever I had a problem with an Apple product, Apple's service crew has been most competent and helpful. It's a bloody shame your Macbook was a total dud. But that just happens. It's a Notebook. After trying to repair it a number of times, it will get replaced. I'm sorry you got hurt in the process, however you managed that. Apple apparently screwed up too, but you got splendid compensation. But please, PLEASE don't come here and blame Apple for you acting unprofessionally.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple Products SUCK

    End of story.

    Should of done your research before buying.

    All the posts below claiming that she's unfortunately stumbled upon "a lemon" need to get their facts straight. It doesn't take 5 minutes to look around the net and read a few reviews on how useless Apple products are and how often they need repairing.

    I've got several close friends and family who've bought macbooks, iPods and the like. All have had to take them back to get them repaired or replaced.

    When you pay £700 for the pleasure of using a device (which let's face it, has more to it's looks than features) you don't expect it to burn your house down nor break at the first sign of use. This unfortunately seems to be the case with Apple products more often than not.

    My advice? If you're bothered about getting your work done, buy a generic laptop from a reputable retailer, probably better spec,better OS for a lower price. That is, if you're not worried about it looking pretty. I'm sure though, with the extra cash saved you could "pimp" yourself a good one if you were that bothered.

    Fair point made by previous posters with regards to business continuity - if this is costing yourself so much, you should have a contingency plan. Despite how much faith you would put into something with an Apple logo on it.

    Oh the irony.

  54. kb9aln

    Poor Engineering

    Sorry to hear of the big problems (and they are big problems) with the Apple.

    A few of my friends have bought similar machines and have not seem the level of problems that the writer relates here. So far, so good.

    But as a guy who has spent a long time in the electronics industry, I am struck by the absolute stupidity of the design of the power adaptor. Yes, the "mag safe" feature is cool, but there is one big issue that none of the other commenters have noted.

    There is no fusing or even active current limiting in the supply should a short or overload be presented to the power supply. That is just plain stupid and is just asking for a fire. I am no Apple-Basher (the aforementioned friends bought these machines on my recommendation), but this seems to be absolutely stupid for a company that prides itself on being so smart.

    Whomever made that poor design choice needs a good whippin'. Every power supply has the potential to become a firebox. Every one. And good design calls for the eventual realization that the product may be abused, or some circumstance may cause undesired operation. That is why fuses exist.

    This is just a large-scale recall waiting to happen. I'll repeat what other commenters have said: do not charge the thing while you are sleeping and for God's sakes, don't set the thing under the couch. Even when it is not charging. It is asking for trouble.

    And so is working without a contingency plan. Especially when your work involves a computer.

  55. Richard Kilpatrick

    How to run a business:

    As a freelance journalist myself, in your position I would have:

    Had a backup computer. Doing all your work on a laptop is going to result in RSI and similar issues.

    Had an onsite maintenance plan. Third parties offer them, as do Apple (at a price). I'm currently reviewing a Dell and whilst I am finding Windows Vista to be the system's weakest point, Dell's support offerings are fantastic. I especially approve of their £200/4 year accidental damage EU-wide coverage with new for old replacement.

    Bought a new computer, put the MacBook into firewire mode, migrated, continued working whilst I resolved my issues with the Apple, then sold the repaired or replacement computer. If my losses were so great as to merit this much whining (or indeed, let's say, greater than the value of upgrade you received in the form of the MacBook Pro), then it would be sound financial sense to buy a new computer to allow me to keep working.

    Apple are slow to sort these issues. I've been there. I still run a business on Mac OS X, my last purchase being a 24" iMac (just in time for rumours of a really much nicer model to be launched. Maybe I can persuade mine to catch fire and see if Apple PR can replace it with a new one)...

    Look on the bright side. At least Apple's PR department (were) reliably talking to you ;)

  56. Scott Anderson

    Not so similar experience

    I have a MacBook Pro, one year old. Right now it's having the hard drive replaced for the third time; they're also replacing the logic board because apparently that can cause the hard drive to fail.

    While the hardware is really starting to annoy me, I have to say I can't really complain about the service. The other times I've had the machine in I've gotten it back within a day or two when they've told me it would take a week. I've heard horror stories about the service for other companies (Toshiba, Dell, etc) taking weeks.

    The one complaint I have is this: the "genius bar" reservation system sucks. I shouldn't have to reserve a slot to bring in an obviously defective piece of hardware. "Yup, won't boot, looks dead, we'll get it fixed. Next!"

    No problems with my MagSafe yet, knock on wood. There are about 600 negative comments on Apple's Store site for the MagSafe product, however, complaining about melting and burning.



  57. Richard Kilpatrick


    "I'm impressed you weren't tempted to play the "I'm a tech journalist, so sort this out sharpish or I'll write you up" card. If you did, and this was the result, heaven help us non-journo types."

    Chris, either you're being stealth-sarcastic, or you missed the section of the article where Apple's PR department sort it out. Apple's PR department have nothing to do with consumers; at best you'd get Customer Relations.

    If she is a tech journalist, she's not a very good one given the editorial slant. Does "The Sun" have a tech column? (And does it basically go "The Internet is for porn!")...

  58. Brian Miller


    Where to start, eh?

    Firstly, I work in a business where all the office computers are laptops with docking stations. They provide laptop bags in all shapes for safe transport. We have dell and independant IT service contracts and in-house support in the form of several engineers and IT dudes. Only the server and a couple of legacy pieces are not laptops and this creates an excellent and productive workplace. We never seem to have laptop related productivity issues, one drive failure that took a day to sort with new loaded with backup. SO have at you Anton Ivanov!! It can work very well.

    Also laptops can be fixed by anyone who can fix a normal "generic" PC if they have some balls. (dells are quite difficult to open, but APPLE is FAR WORSE)

    NEXT, Brian Milner, is that right? so close to having the best name in the world but so far as well. Excellent recipe though.

    And FINALLY,

    Apple is the worst for user servicability and upgrade. Laptop or not. They try to trap you into their proprietary CRAP, that is expensive, AND stop you from being able to solve the problems that occur in daily IT situations.

    You have to buy every little thing from apple, Video codecs, cd writing software, FFS EVERYTHING. THEY SUCK!!

    It is only fashion concious airheads that like apple because they dumb everything down for them and look "different".

  59. Giles Jones Gold badge


    This is why I got a reconditioned Macbook, it's been through two test processes instead of one.

    The Magsafe insulation must be weak in these laptops, but you can avoid the problem by not wrapping the wire up too tight, people always do this with laptop chargers and you end up with stressed connectors and spirally leads.

    Most laptops are too hot to be used on the lap or on any soft surface. There's vents in the casing which must not be blocked or the unit can explode.

    Laptops often used Lithium Ion batteries which don't like to get hot, never leave a laptop switched on for long peropid while it is not on a hard surface. That's any laptop, not just an Apple one.

  60. Kevin Smith

    Mac Ads...

    On the subject of power cables, I'm amazed no-one has mentioned the Mac ads plastered all over bus stops featuring cool Mr. Mac and tightarse Mr. PC. The most amusing I've seen has to be one I saw a while back where the poor marketing plebs had obviously found themselves unable to think up a credible case to promote their product and so came up with:

    Mr. PC (in wheelchair with cast on his leg): "I fell over my laptop power cable and broke my leg."

    Mr. Mac (grinning) : "Mac laptop power cables have a release system so you can't trip on them."

    ...because damned if THAT isn't high on my list of purchasing criteria! I'm surprised they didn't go into all the other benefits of not breaking your leg - like being able to escape more easily when said power cable burns your house down, perhaps?

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple knew this would happen

    Apple has gone from a nich market to mass market in a very short time. When the macbook was first announced, Apple internal said to most of the service mananger to expect lots of problems.

    Random shutdown, exploding/expanding battery, battery not powering the unit, flickering backlight, yellow topcase, Hard drive failures are the big ones. The ones people rarely hear about: sound output issue, sleep issue, airport drop outs and a couple of little ones.

    Every products has its faults. Apple is no different. Look at the apple support page and the extended warranties. Its getting bigger and bigger.

    You can always go back to paper and pen, but the dog might eat that or your pen breaks off and pokes your 2 month old baby in the eye or you put your coffee mug over it and it has a ring on it or you chuck it out by mistake or ...

    Murphy said it best: what can go wrong will go wrong!

  62. Clark Davison

    Just like an auto

    I too have had problems with an Apple product. I have a 15" MacBook Pro. In one year I have had the logic board replaced twice, the LCD replaced twice and the battery once. Is mine a problematic machine? Definitely. Have I taken it in at the first sign of trouble? You bet. But in my past experience with Apple products this is not typical. Will this keep me from being an Apple customer? No. It's not as if other laptop manufactures don't have their share of problems.

    What I think is funny is how all the signs were there that you had an issue but didn't do anything ahead of time. You waited until catastrophic failure and then cried about it.

    If it was an auto that started to show signs of trouble I doubt if you would have continued to drive it and wait for it to break. You would take it to the garage right away. That is what you should have done with the MacBook.

    It appears that Apple giving you a new laptop wasn't satisfactory enough. A little spoiled, eh? Next time you have an issue with an auto see if you can cry your way into a new car after you ignored signs of trouble while driving it.

  63. Jason Clery

    support contract

    To those whining about her getting a business support contract, see the "sale of goods act" about a product working as it should.

  64. Keith Spencer

    Consumer Reports

    This is such an odd story really. I'm afraid the poor girl just seems to be bitter and wants to shout so that everybody hears. As everybody knows, Apple have come top in customer service and reliability polls conducted by well respective consumers groups such as Consumer Reports. However, they still have failure rates of about 10% on their machines which is pretty high really compared to other consumer products. The reality is that the computers we use are the most complicated items in our homes by a considerable margin. It should come as no surprise that they should fail every so often. This woman has had one of those failures. Stats are always crappy or wrong when you are on the wrong side of the number; just ask those unfortunate enough to get struck by lightning. I have this strong feeling that this woman is just simply angry since, as an IT professional, she should have known that backing up her data was important. And yet she failed to do so and wants to find somebody to blame. Human nature folks and not much to do with Apple. Nice upgrade though.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Sounds like Apple are worse than Acer, now thats saying something!

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Customer Service and Failures

    Customer service changes from day to day, month to month and year to year. Each rep is different.

    My first Mac (1999 iMac) died 10 minutes after arrival. Four trips to CompUSA later, and they still hadn't managed to fix it, and I spent hours with a range of socially challenged managers trying to get a replacement machine. Lots of frustration - but I got it, and swore to curse Apple customer service to my dying day.

    My present G4 PowerBook had its bottom RAM slot fail - poor soldering at the factory, a recognized complaint. It was well out of warranty, and the serial number was outside the range of serials that were authorized out-of-warranty service for this flaw. Nevertheless, Apple covered the replacement of my logic board - and did so quickly and cleanly, a multi-thousand-dollar repair.

    Yesterday, a colleague cracked the inverter card in his MacBook Pro by smacking the laptop into a stair. While taking the machine apart to do the diagnosis, I was struck by the sheer attention to detail and build quality I found - the fine machining in the LCD support, the cable routing. By the same token, it was fun keeping track of the legion of tiny screws one has to remove - but these are the same screws that make the machine so strong, creak-free, solid-feeling and durable (as I discovered by falling bodily on my G4 one slippery winter day).

    Regarding hard drive failures:

    They happen. Often. Statistically. This is not Apple on any other vendor's fault - other than the disk manuufacturer. Be aware of them and run SMARTReporter to warn of some failure modes (not a guarantee, but can be helpful). If your drive is failing, put it in a sealing plastic bag in the freezer for a few minutes, then reinsert it and boot - and QUICKLY copy your files somewhere else. On your MacBook (now Pro), you can do this in Target Disk Mode by booting with the T key held down, and connect it as an external HDD to some other machine - simplifies the recovery.

    Regarding power cables:

    This afternoon, my officemate's new HP laptop's power supply failed in just the same way as I'm seeing for all these MagSafe adapters. The fact is that cable production is fraught with variations, and quality control at the producer can be spotty. If there are any faults in insulation thickness, winding, strain relief or soldering, the subsequent short will be the same regardless of brand. It happened to my Dell laptop's power supply three years ago as well.

    Last year I worked with hundreds of kilometers of heavy cable with much the same results in some cases - the insulation in some conductors had cracked from abnormal thinness. Bummer - and this was custom cable from Italy, not some Chinese mass industry shop. These cables were 3/4 of an inch in total thickness, and their min bend radius was a foot or more. How careful are you with your laptop cable? We treated these with deliberate gentleness - not stepping on them, testing them thoroughly throughout the installation process, installing spares in place. How careful are you with your laptop's power cable - especially the thin, vulnerable side? These are not made of adamantium, you know.

    I am sympathetic to the frustration and time loss the reviewer mentions. She did all the right things, and got a raw deal right up to the very end, where she scored. None of the failures in this chain of events were excusable. They all apply, however, to any human interaction, and have nothing to do with Apple. On the balance - with a number of customer service interactions with Apple under my belt in several countries, I'd have to say that they've earned their reputation as an excellent provider. There is no perfection, but they seem to make the damage good quickly in most cases.

    All comments made here about depending solely on a laptop for critical tasks are correct, if a bit harsh. Data backup and fallback hardware are essential for critical tools. If you can't afford either, you can't claim it's someone else's fault that you lost the cash you'd have made otherwise. The same applies to cars and such - you have to assume that nothing works perfectly forever. Bad luck also happens, and our intrepid reporter seems to have had more than her share.

    Regarding couriers:

    This is Europe. I have never had anyone arrive at the correct time (plumber, electrician, delivery, courier), even within a wide timeslot (9-5) in all my time here. It would be something to write home about if the courier HAD arrived on time. I imagine the manager was as irked as you were, in this continuing comedy of errors.

    Sympathies. You _can_ run a business on a Mac or a linux box or even Vista - if you take into account the fact that backup is critical. Painful lesson, and I'm sorry it was so ridiculously hard.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You Apple people aren't getting what I believe she is trying to say.

    She would not have purchased a Mac if she didn't want to use one.

    What she seems to be complaining more about is the fact that their customer service skills need work. I work retail. If I did to a customer, what Apple did to this customer of theirs, I would not expect to have many customers.

    There have been many occasions where a TV, or a computer, or something else has failed on one of our customers. Our first, best, and favorite option for replacing something defective that the customer didn't beat up, is to simply swap it out. Without a hassle. Because the small amount of money the company spends on assuming the repair themselves earns customers.

    Unlike this example, with Apple.

    And those who say that you should purchase the "extended warranty" or whatever fancy name they call it this week - yes, on something like a notebook, it's nice to have. Service options are nice too. But that should not relieve the manufacturer of their obligations to sell a working product, as well as their obligation to the included warranty.

    Yes, it isn't good enough that Apple made one of their customers go through hell to get the notebook. Sometimes it isn't just doing the right thing, it's doing the right thing at the RIGHT TIME.

  68. Martin

    silly silly silly

    1. with writing like that, don't expect respect from men (offering sexual favours, etc.)

    2. you run your business like a hobby, not a business.

    3. air vents... ever heard of them? who could be so silly as to leave a laptop charging on a carpet. the reps should have told you that this is probably your problem. Ever worked in an office? Notice that there's no carpets or felt on the desktop?

    4. you're like my granny. one time she had to change the light bulb in the kitchen. she stopped doing the washing up, climbed on a wooden stool and replaced the light bulb with her wet rubber gloves dripping water. dumb luck can't always be depended on.

    5. people who have problems make more noise than those who don't have problems, especially in this culture.

    6. I've run a couple of businesses from Macs. And I know others who have too. I've had no problems with my Macs, and just a few with my PCs. That's just life. The whole tone of your article is a whiney bitch, and the title is a non sequitur.

    7. The Register has finally become a Troll.

  69. Scott

    Pardon me while I wipe away these crocodile tears...

    Honestly, while I'm far from a fan of Apple, I've seen worse. I work for one of the most respected international computer companies for onsite repair work, and while occasionally things don't go right, we generally meet our warranty obligations in a timely manner. I still get treated to the occasional indignant whiner who's "lost TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars" or whatever because a laptop that cost less than a couple thousand dollars has been broken for one or two days. Here's a clue: ALL electronics have the potential to fail. If your livelihood depends on a particular electronic item, and you're going to lose THAT MUCH MONEY if something fails, then gee, maybe you'd better consider getting some redundancy. That might mean buying two cheaper craptops rather than one MacBook where you're paying more for the image and prestige. It's the same principle as having a reliable car in one's garage in addition to an exotic sports car that may have a reputation for requiring frequent visits to the mechanic.

    All I'm seeing in this story is that Apple has the same failings of any other manufacturer, but that the users seem to think the price of fashion entitles them to whine. But I've also learned why Apple has incorporated rounded "safety" edges into most of its products...if they used sharp corners or the cheap tin cases that may have sharp edges exposed when they're slipped off, a user MIGHT GET HURT!

  70. JohnA


    Reminds me of that scene in Ghostbusters:

    Apple PR: Are you a GOD?

    Emily: No

    Apple PR: Then.... DIE

    [power cord goes on fire, dvd burner blows up]

    El Reg: Emily, when Apple PR ask you if you are a *God*, you say "YES"

  71. Dan

    i don't bother

    reading the article any more...just head straight to the comments.

  72. Tomasz Kuczborski

    It's nothing personal, Emily, but...

    I will be missing you - my witty, independent, sometimes critical, sometimes enthusiastic but always RELIABLE El Reg.

    You (El Reg) may continue to fight your childish sandbox war against Apple PR, but remember, that you put your credibility on stake.

    I wouldn't risk it, if I were you.

    Cool regards

    Tomasz Kuczborski, Warsaw, Poland

  73. Trevor Whitmore

    I love this type of thing...

    Hi there I know the original writer won't ever read these comments but I had to say something. I have being in the IT service industry for the last 13 years, I have worked for a few companies including Bestbuy as a part time job in the geek squad. I love it when people come to me saying somthing like, "I have lost x amount of day of work.", "I lose x dollars a day my computer is down", and my personal favorite is, "What are you going to do about it?"

    I laugh every time, and then I give each of them the same speech. "I am very sorry to hear that you lose time or money because of your laptop or computer being out for repair or for just breaking down to begin with. However I must point out that if your buisness or work depends on your laptop or computer to be working all of the time so that you always get paid, then I suggest you take steps to make sure that you don't lose time. Purchase a second laptop or desktop with an external HDD to back up your data too, each night back up all of your data. If for some reason your primary laptop or desktop dies or has to go out for repair then you can open the second laptop, pull your data from the external hdd and not lose any time or money. I realize that purchasing a second laptop or computer isn't cheap but if you lose just 100$ a day and your computer is out for repair for 20 days, you just lost 2000$ and since you can purchase a second laptop or computer for under 1000$ doesn't this make economic sense? Another situation I have for you to take into account with a laptop for instance is that, what if it gets stolen on you? All of your data is gone, with the plan I have outlined you can be up and running not even an hour after you get home to open the second laptop."

    I have given this speech to many customers that whine about the time they lose, honestly I don't care how much time you lose or money. If your smart enough to make that much money over that time then you should be smart enough to take those simple precautions. As for the lady in the article whining about crap that has happened with the laptop, sorry to say but you made out good, you got a BRAND NEW laptop, I would say Apple took very good care of you.

  74. Steven Hewittt

    Missing the point

    This isn't a anti-apple article per se - it's not bashing Macbooks as such (although they come off very badly), as faults happen with all electronic equipment generally.

    The fact is that if I have an issue with any of the HP running Vista machines we have in our offices then when it's repaired then I expect it to work. Look at the URL of the article "Macbook Apple Support Hell" - It highlights that this particular Macbook was a bad build, but the point is that Apple should have fixed it, and tested it using quality components and provided a good service.

    I personally can't stand Mac's, but regardless of what you use, you should have decent support when it's within it's warrenty.

    Finally - saying that it's her fault for not having a DR method in place is just nonsense. So it would all be OK and fine if the Macbook BURNT her, and caused her all of this stress and hassle (not to mention lost time) if she had a backup and spent twice the amount by having two Macbooks? Do me a favor, shit support and after-sales service is shit support and after-sales service - the consumer's circumstances regarding backups and DR is their own concern and should have no impact of the service provider from a hardware manufacturer.

    Expect better.

  75. Steven Hewittt

    FAO: Clark Davidson

    You're talking shit.

    "I too have had problems with an Apple product. I have a 15" MacBook Pro. In one year I have had the logic board replaced twice, the LCD replaced twice and the battery once. Is mine a problematic machine? Definitely. Have I taken it in at the first sign of trouble? You bet. But in my past experience with Apple products this is not typical. Will this keep me from being an Apple customer? No. It's not as if other laptop manufactures don't have their share of problems."

    5 hardware faults on one machine? Fanboy alert - try a HP nx7400 or something.

    If you have 5 faults within a year on one of those i'll personally pay for a new one.

    Open your eyes - called 'customer service'. After 5 faults i'd be speaking to supervisors about compensation.

  76. MJ Whitley

    $700 lemon...

    Being someone in the IT end user support business for 20 years...

    I feel your pain. Really I do.

    But from a different makes me crazy that people actually believe that a sub $1000 PC/Laptop is just as good or at least adequate

    for a person to use with current applications.

    At those prices corners are cut everywhere and planned obsolescece is the name of the game, and forget post sales service.

    Cheap In - Cheap Out.

    But the marketeers will swear that you are getting the same level of quality...just a few less features.

    It's sad that the IT industry in general has had to resort to mis-representation

    to try to make a buck. (Don't even get me started on the rebate scam industry)

    You deserve more professional response from Apple...

    It's nice that they sent you an upgraded unit and I hope that one is working well...but then shear number of calls, trips & mis-communications should have drawn a stronger response from Apples senior customer service folks.

    If you have not contacted them, you should, your problems are well documented...although it's unlikely that they will offer to do much for you at this point, (they aren't liable now and have given some compensation)...

    A complaint like yours to the Senior customer service may get some airplay

    internally, maybe not...but your case plays well as an enthusiastic Apple customer turned sour by Apples less then acceptable customer service.

    It doesn't take too many stories like yours...especially yours, as it is a valid and published sour the public's image to a obvious problem with the companies handling of a post sale issue.

    Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

    Note Taken.

    An Apple issue a Day...leads to post procurement stress dis-order.

    MJW / Executive Technical Services

  77. Ted

    That sucks

    Man, it sounds like you've had the nightmare scenario. I've owned Macs exclusively for the last 15 years, and although I've had a couple of lemons, none on the scale that you had.

    I've heard quite a bit of lemon stories with the Macbooks. I owned a 1st gen Macbook (black) for about 1 month before I brought it back because of the random shutdowns and screen flickering. I wasn't about to take a second chance on the MB, so I opted for an iMac instead.

    I use a Macbook Pro everyday for work, and love it. I've had it repaired twice due to a loud fan and heat issues, but it still is the best piece of mobile hardware I've ever used.

  78. Richard Kilpatrick

    Misinformed, much?

    "You have to buy every little thing from apple, Video codecs, cd writing software, FFS EVERYTHING. THEY SUCK!!"

    Brian Miller, perhaps you need to do some market research. I think you are mistaking Apple for Microsoft here ;)

    Admittedly many PC manufacturers do bundle (often hopeless/crapware) utilities to fill this gap, but out of the box, a Macintosh can:

    Edit HD movies

    Burn DVDs, proper ones, with menus and so forth

    Play a wide variety of media

    Share media via iTunes

    Compose music in the very, very good GarageBand application.

    Not only does Mac OS have disc burning integrated, but all Macs ship with iLife, a suite of applications for "home" multimedia, and the total cost of OS X retail and iLife retail is literally a fraction of the cost for Vista Ultimate (rrp comparison, end user products) - if you want to buy it. Which of course, no-one does to get their initial setup, only to upgrade.

    Last clean install of XP Pro I got, it wouldn't even play a DVD without a Codec, and Vista "Ultimate" cannot burn DVDs, cannot handle ISO/image files greater than 2GB (and MS, laughable, distribute VS Pro trials as an image of 2.7GB, which Vista dynamically resizes to 2GB when you download the recommended app to burn it to disc... in the end, I had to use the Mac to burn the disk!), and cannot play AAC/M4A files without adding not just codecs, but filters.

    Your comments are not exactly relevant here anyway; this is a hardware/support issue, not platform issue, but I still think that you need re-educating!

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Absence of Apple fan boys

    I'm not noticing many Apple fan boys in the comments of the various Apple related stories but I'm getting fed up of wading through the dozens of anti-fan boys comments. If all you fan boy haters could do something more constructive with your time I'd be most grateful as then there would only be interesting comments to read. Go and find where the fan boys actually hang out and leave us alone!


    I don't own a Mac / iPhone and aren't likely to. I do have an iPod though which I've been very pleased with.

  80. Jeremy Cordes

    intel problem

    This all started after the switch to intel, and I will never use an intel machine. Powerbook forever!

  81. Ian Bremner

    Somethings aren't Apple's fault, some are.

    On one level I can sympathize with Apple. I work in Tech Support for a big company whose name rhymes with Hell. On at least two occasions I've tried to have a courier replace a battery, onlyfor the courier to attend outwith the promised time. Not the fault of the tech, but of the outsourced courier.

    But in the case of the smoke coming out of the machine and the burns to the author of this peice, If I or anyone at this office had taken that call, it would have been immediately escalated to Level 3 and a brand new system sent out as that one would have been deemed a safety hazard. Here, if a customer mentions large amounts of smoke coming from the system, electrical arcing or mentioning being injured by the system, it is immediately flagged for replacement.

  82. Christopher

    Lessons to be learned the hard way?

    As one who works from home in his own biz, I often find myself under various forms of deadlines. Of course, like the author (and many others here?), I too, use a computer to make my living. But here is the difference. I don't rely on just ONE laptop. I have a 'clone' on each platform. An exact spare of both my Mac PowerBook and my IBM ThinkPad. And I have to agree with the anon poster ('Ouch') who recommends the IBM biz solution. Yes! (I had occasion to use it on a small issue and the IBM/Lenovo people were great!)

    Now we are in biz, that's true, and I don't expect we all have the finances of 'the Donald' (I don't!), so how do we AFFORD 2 identical laptops? Easy. Apple has an ace refurbish program that helps you get a second. (So does IBM for that matter) You should NOT be getting a lemon this way. If you do -- man, you got REALLY bad luck! In the end, it becomes a Capitol Investment and you finance it accordingly. Some prefer to lease for tax reasons.

    Another note: Apple does offer for $99 per year biz support that streamlines the repair process. Consider it. It's a frickin' business write-off. Put it on your Visa.

    Regrettably, it is hard for me to get broken up about this story, because as a so-called business person -- on her own -- with no form of backup -- I find it hard to believe she allowed herself to be left out in the cold and had to cancel work.

    I'm not rich, but I'm working everyday -- and I can count on it, because I am prepared. Think about it, Emily.

  83. John Benson

    reminds me of my PowerBook adventure many years ago

    I bought an Apple PowerBook laptop and had no end of trouble with the hardware: I liked having the SCSI connector so I could back up the hard disk easily. Unfortunately, the SCSI was extremely dodgy and a motherboard replacement didn't help with that and some other problems. Up till then I had been extremely fond of my Fat Mac, Mac Plus and Mac SE which worked great, and I found it hard to believe that I had purchased the laptop from the same company.

    Ironically, I paid what I considered a premium price for an Apple laptop because of the respect I had for the company's products. Since then, I use a plain vanilla PC laptop, keep my important data on a USB flash drive, and back the flash drive up to both the laptop and a USB hard drive. Oh, and the flash drive is encrypted with TrueCrypt so if I lose it, I only lose the hardware.

    As for the title of the article, I don't think it's businesslike to run your business on a laptop or any other single PC: data backup alone won't get you through a hardware outage. And physical injury caused by a responsibly used computing device is grounds for litigation, which is probably the most effective way of getting dangerous designs rectified or off the market.

    In my case, the PowerBook just wasted large amounts of my time but this is considered to be an externality (read: non-problem) in both the hardware and software industries because nobody has ever compensated me for lost productivity in either case. Had there been a physical injury though, I would have considered it my duty to litigate and get the product recalled before something worse happened to somebody else. I also doubt that I would have continued using a fire hazard, or even leaving it plugged in, in a house with small children.

    Bottom line: I sympathize with the tale of time lost but a responsible backup plan will minimize the impact of inevitable media crashes. I don't think it's at all realistic to bet your business on a single computer of any kind, or leave laptops cooking on a carpet under furniture: incendiary batteries and hot CPUs have been in the news for at least a decade and I would expect a habitual laptop user to be at least somewhat aware of these problems. These problems can be expected to continue as long as there is competition in CPU performance and battery endurance. And although I've personally sworn off Apple laptops for years, the problems mentioned affect other gear as well.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    She's a woman, of course this article is melodramatic. Of course she did everything wrong; like baking it every night under the sofa or not calling Applecare when her screen started flickering and logging a ticket before total failure or RTFM. I wonder if her "check engine" light is on right now...

    When she finally called during her "emergency", I'm sure she was a bitch on the phone making the customer service person keep her on hold a little longer.

    Guys, she is a woman. This is how they are. Even in the end, she gets a much better computer and she still isn't happy. Just like a woman, there is nothing anyone can do to make her happy, including a multi-billion dollar company that occasionally may have a lemon or two slip by QC. I can only imagine what she is like when her significant other doesn't put down the toilet seat!

    This is not journalism, it is a bitchfest. I wonder it El Reg had to pay for this article?

  85. Ally

    UK service seems to be especially bad

    I bought my Macbook in July of last year. A month later the top started to discolour and it'd shut down at random intervals suitable to itself. I took it into my local Apple repair centre, who said they'd replace the top and the logic board.

    Except they weren't in stock, so I'd have to wait. For a month, without my laptop. I couldn't have it back, no siree- otherwise they'd have to wait for me to bring it in! With no other service options within at least an hour's drive, I had to accept it, and be without my laptop for an entire chuffing month.

    A few months ago I moved out to Canada, and about a month ago my trackpad button stopped working- whether it was a mechanical fault of a rejection of a maple-tainted lifestyle I couldn't say. Took it into the service centre- new top (again!) and keyboard needed. Even taking into account the special order of a UK keyboard it took 3 days for the parts to arrive. I brought my laptop in (they didn't insist on keeping it) and it was repaired within 30 minutes. Ta-da!

    So maybe they just don't give a crap about the UK.

  86. Thomas Martin

    That is why I use Dell or HP laptops

    This is explicitly why I use Dell or HP laptops. I have found them to be extremely reliable and when they need service it gets done and done correctly the first time.

    No Macs for me.

  87. Roger Reynolds

    UK Service bad for everything?

    This is a terrible story. For what it's worth, I've owned dozens of Macs and never had a repair problem. I even own a Macbook, and had to have the battery replaced, but was in and out of the store in 20 minutes.

    But I wonder if there is a difference between what goes for customer service in the UK vs. the US. I took my family on vacation to the Lake District this past May and our rental car got a puncture out in the middle of nowhere. No spare in the car either. Called AVIS, and they sent out an RAC man, telling him that we had a spare. Naturally, when he shows up, the first thing he asks is where's the spare? To his credit, he moved heaven and earth to find us a tire late on a Sunday night. But Avis did nothing for us. I paid over $200 US for the tire, my family was stuck in the dark in a derelict car for over 5 hrs, and the most we could get out of Avis, after arguing quite a bit, is that they would split the cost of the tire.

    At least you got a significantly better machine out of your troubles!

  88. Keith T

    If you weren't a journalist they would have treated you worse

    At least you knew how to navigate Apple's bureacracy.

    You also had the weapon of your job to get compensation out of them.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad support, work lost

    A faulty product is one thing, but your treatment by the support structure is just appauling. Replacing blody logic boards and other parts on a laptop? Why didn't they just transfere the HDD to a new unit, then go over the faulty unit with a fine tooth comb, find out if there's a bigger problem behid it all?

    A company the size of Apple can write off the cost of one faulty unit if it truly is buggered, and getting a faulty unit back is in there best interests. The treatment received here is just abismal, and someone should get there arse kicked over it.

    Its a shame you had no sort of back-up (someone who coould loan you there laptop), as I know what the loss of work due to pc failure can cost. You have my sympathy on this.

  90. Mike Friedman

    make a backup...every day

    I feel for you in terms of how you were dealt with. No one likes to be treated like crap by any company, especially when you've put a lot of money into something you depend on every day. It really does sound like you got a lemon (and I've seen those from every manufacturer there is, and support is often just as bad).

    But I have to chide you for not making backups. With 500 GB USB drives available for $100 (in the US) there's no excuse whatsoever for being without a daily backup.

  91. Ally

    To the 'First Generation' apologists

    There was a comment somewhere back up there from an Apple fan saying something along the lines of "Everyone knows you shouldn't buy a first-gen product!"

    Why is this acceptable? Why do all the (Apple, especially) fanboys gleefully tell everyone that only idiots buy a product when it first comes out? Apple have been making laptops for years- just because they changed from "iBook" to "MacBook" doesn't mean they have carte blanche to roll out a buggy, unfinished product to the public- and it definitely doesn't mean that I should expect my shiny new laptop to fail just because it's new.

    All I want is a system that I can buy, and have work. Apple seem incredibly bad at providing this.

  92. Fran Taylor

    Buy Used

    Buy a used laptop. Heck, you can buy a big pile of used laptops for the price of a new one. Look them over carefully and avoid ones with dents or cracks. Make sure they boot up, make sure there are no burning smells.

    Used machines are burned in, if they are still alive, they will probably continue to live. Upgrade the RAM and the hard disk.

    Three year old laptops can be had for $300. They have Pentium-4 M processors and are not that much slower than new ones. Keep the original hard disk with its copy of Windows in case you need to upgrade the BIOS or the like, and install Linux on the new drive. Linux on a three year old machine feels as fast as Windows on a new machine.

    You can't run the latest 3-D stuff on it, but those fancy GPUs chew up batteries like mad, and run much better on a desktop anyway. You didn't need it three years ago, you don't need it now.

    Apple software is nice, but their hardware is problematic. Not worth the trouble.

  93. Kevin Smith

    I empathise with your problem.

    I bought a revision A MacBook and as soon as I got it home noticed the noisy fan and "mooing" that plagued the MacBooks at that time.

    Within a few weeks I was having random shutdowns and I, despite my better judgement ignored them because I needed the machine for work and being without it would lose me money.

    Six months later and I was having a shutdown daily and problem after problem was arising, however it wasn't until one day when I couldn't get the machine to boot that I finally took it for repair.

    I went to the nearest Apple Authorised Service Centre, Micro Anvika on Tottenham Court Road, anticipating this would be faster than booking an appointment at the Apple Store on Regent Street and having it appraised by a genius, I was wrong. I was without the machine for 29 days for a replacement logic board, 30 days later the hard drive died taking with it a months worth of work I hadn't backed up due to losing the backup applications while it was in for repair and not having got round to replacing them.

    This time I took it straight to the Apple Store and was told that yes the hard drive had died and I'd have to wait ten days for repair.

    I declined to leave the machine with them and instead went home, transferred some money from my savings account and returned later with £1100 in cash to buy a replacement Core 2 Duo MacBook.

    I've since sold the CrapBook, as I affectionally named it, on eBay for £250 less than I paid for it from the Apple refurb store ten months ago and have been overwhelmingly impressed with the new model. It's rock solid and what the previous one should have been.

    Prior to my MacBook I had an iBook G3 12" from 2002 that was plagued by the failing logic boards, my one had 5 replacements during it's lifetime, and you'd think that I'd have been warned off Apple hardware by now, but, the fact is Apple hardware and software fits my need like no other product on the market. It's not perfect, not by a long shot, but it's what works for what I do.

    I work as a designer and write copy for several online publications, no windows or linux solution fits what I want and need like an Apple product and that's why, despite their problems and quibbles I stick with them.

    I use a windows machine at work during the day and an Apple machine at home and when on the road, it's not that I don't know windows well enough, I know Windows inside out and backwards, but I don't enjoy using it. Windows is a chore to use, I will have to go and tinker with something or other at least once a week in order to keep things going as they should, not that I don't ever have to tinker with OS X, I do, but it's far less often and something that generally isn't critical to get the job done.

    At the end of the day, Apple have been propelled to this god like hardware manufacturer whose products NEVER die, of course that's utter bullshit. All electronic products have their lemons and Apple suffer like every other manufacturer out there. No matter how painful at times my relationship had been with Apple, my experience with Windows and generic x86 hardware has been just as bad if not three times over.

    Apple have their flaws, as do Microsoft, HP, Dell and all the other wintel manufacturers.

    The point is, and this is what I've been getting to, you, as I have, returned to Apple and OS X without throwing your hands up and returning to Microsoft and it's poor offerings under the Windows umbrella.

    Hardware fails, all the time, but it's an equation of whether those hardware failures are worth dealing with for the overall user experience.

    That my dear is the question.

  94. Richard England


    They compensated you with a macBook Pro?

    That did it for me. This evening I went to John Lewis and purchased a black MacBook.

    Ok, so you got a duff Monday morning/Friday afternoon job. I guess cooking it when recharging wasn't a good idea, but that was outstanding customer service. With Dell you wouldn't even have someone to complain in person to - try pushing your point with an Indian CSR with an anti-Western attitude!

    And now I have the rest of the evening to get accustomed to my new MacBook.

    It's flowncy journalism, but what the heck?

  95. Dillon Pyron


    I'm no Apple fanboi (although when they used the PPC and my wife was designing them I might have been). But I've had similar "customer service" and performance issues from at least two other computer makers. **** and *******. Incompetent service, rude or brainless help desk, mail in support (at least she had a store, I was dealing with two mail only vendors). They are both gone, returned for what was, thankfully, a full refund. Now I have a 5 year old Sony Viao that's starting to show it's age and a year old HP. I am afraid that my next laptop will have V**** running on it. At least until I install Ubuntu.

    If you want to talk about customer service, ask me about my dealings with a Brooklyn camera shop. Actually, Google "Brooklyn camera shop rip off" and pick one.

  96. Clark Davison

    FAO: Steven Hewittt

    "If you have 5 faults within a year on one of those i'll personally pay for a new one."

    Give ma an address and I'll mail you copies of the work orders. As for who is talking shit I doubt that you are willing to shell out the money to buy me the new MacBook Pro you just promised. In the meantime, STFU.

  97. James


    1) Overheating the machine by repeatedly placing it "under the couch" while powered on undoubtedly contributed significantly to all of the problems faced by the writer. It may have indeed been a "lemon" machine, but there is no evidence for that in this article. Simple consumer abuse could easily account for everything mentioned. Not an Apple/Macbook issue.

    2) Dell offers Vista, XP Pro and Linux on its systems with full support. However the best Linux laptops I've ever run have come from Linux Certified.

    Good luck, Mac users!

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wouldn't have thought rocket science would pose much of a problem for a company with a "Genius Bar" in their retail outlets.

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's true - Apple UK's support is abysmal...

    ...but that doesn't mean their computers suck.

    FWIW and FYI, even though this policy sucks (replacement should be automatic on the first hint of a hardware issue), but you should demand a new machine if your Apple has been sent in three times for hardware repairs and I believe they are obliged to give you one (at least, this is the case in the US from what I have been told).

  100. Nexox Enigma


    First off, this didn't start when they switched to Intel CPUs, as someone said. I know a person that uses a G4 iBook that has scortch marks all over it from where it's power supply set her bed on fire while she was using it. I've seen a number of cases where iBook and Powerbook power adaptors have failed, though most didn't set anything on fire.

    Second, in addition to the comment about the lack of fusing, Apple power supplies are also too damned small. For a given power output, there is a minimum quantity of heat that must be dissipated, since the efficiency hits a peak somewhere. Heat is disspated to the air through the plastic surface of power adaptors like this one - larger adaptor = more surface area = more heat dissipation. Power adaptors (and everything else, I hope) are designed with engineering safety factors, so if a given size would dissipate the needed heat under realistic conditions, the size is scaled up by a factor of 2 or so, because engineers know that they cannot predict everything.

    So for a given power output there is a lower limit to the safe size of a power adaptor, more or less regardless of anything excluding output. Apple power supplies are far smaller per watt than any others that I've seen. What that indicates to me is that Apple is using a smaller engineering safety factor so that their products can look better.

    Really though, if anyone can find a laptop brand that has never cut a corner in the cooling or impact resistance of one of their machines, I'd be surprised. There is too much market pressure to release the smallest, lightest, fastest device possible for companies not to make a few questionable decisions. Seems that Apple really gets the most attention though, possibly because they spend the most time on TV almost, but not quite (for legal reasons, I'm sure,) claiming to be perfect. The fanboys always forget that part when they claim that there are always a few lemons from any company - Apple pretty clearly gives the impression that it is immune to such trifles.

    Also, I won't go into details, but I've had to sit on hold with Apple for hours on end, then had them ship the wrong replacement part (I really didn't want a Spanish keyboard, honest) any number of times during my years as a Helpdesk Consultant. I have occasionally gotten helpful reps, but the majority of the time I spent on the phone with them I spun in my desk chair as fast as I could, hoping to become violently sick so that my boss would have someone else handle the call.

  101. Fsckus

    11 days WITHOUT YOUR COMPUTER? a true tragedy

    Or 55 days, whatever. You're either not very intelligent, or your time is worthless. This has nothing to do with Mac or PC, I work in IT and whenever people who work at home talk about how they're being screwed by X company because they can't work without their precious laptop, I laugh. Let me explain myself with a story.

    I have a friend who is a professional photographer. He shoots architecture with a 1DsMkII and canon tilt-shift lenses. His camera cost him something around the order of $8000, with thousands more for lenses. He has a fast desktop computer with two expensive large screens and Photoshop CS3. He processes all his photos himself. If his camera were to break and he had to send it in for repair, it wouldn't affect him greatly.

    Do you know why? Because he's a professional. He has a backup body (Canon 5D), and a backup computer to boot. Sure, his backup isn't as powerful as his main camera, but he knows that if he were legitimately to be without work he'd be in serious trouble, and as a real working professional he recognizes the cost of a backup unit is far outweighed by the the lost revenue during time spent having his kit repaired.

    Electronics fail. I know this, in the course of my job I see expensive servers, fibre channel arrays, 'reliable' desktops, and even network cables fail all the time. Companies who aren't run by morons buy redundancy, because downtime costs them. They don't live in an imaginary world where they can have their equipment fail and whine about how the vendor should have made a perfect product while they bleed cash from every orifice.

    In my experience it is this willingness to pay for redundancy, and the understanding of business that goes along with it, which separates the amateurs from the professionals.

    Someone who relies on a £700 computer for their whole business is the opposite of a professional. One day without work pays for a new computer at that price in revenue lost.

  102. Eric

    Why is this news?

    I'm sorry that you had a poor experience with your MB. I'm sorry that you were injured. But aside from Apple being a popular company right now, this isn't news. If you'd had these problems with Dell/HP/Gateway/etc it never would have made this site. Get off the bandwagon and go back to reporting news.

  103. Alex

    If this is journalism, I am Santa Claus.

    The Register seems to be sinking into a swamp of writing the most shocking article possible in order to generate comments and doing this at the expense of anything even hinting at balance, and increasingly, at the expense of journalistic ethics.

    The author (whom I have never heard of before) has a litany of complaints against Apple for a faulty laptop. These are aired at great length. She is compensated. "While I have got a £1,200 machine instead of a £700 laptop" she goes on... "it is little compensation" ... what were Apple supposed to do? Seriously. What were they supposed to do? Give her an around the world holiday sitting on Prince William's lap?

    What a bunch of wankers you lot have become. I think I will remove the "Register" bookmark from my browser and see if my quality of life improves. Goodbye.

  104. Tony Pott

    How the mighty have fallen

    Apple used to make good, reliable, products. Sadly, this has changed. Today their QA is rubbish. Apple won't get better while they continue to be their own biggest fanbois, since this makes them incapable of recognising that they, not their customers, are the problem.

    Sad really.

  105. Paul Vail

    No backups, bad optical drive

    Or did the writer put a minibusiness card disc in a slot-load drive and destroy it prior to using normal size media -- perhaps part of the story that didn't get written up? Was that cord bent back and forth until the wires shorted and burned out? Did the author use an external hard drive and free software like carbon copy cloner to make backups? Did her friend -- the expert -- tell her that a flashing question mark is just as often a corrupt directory normally repaired with the Disk Utility, Disk Warrior or a dozen other apps?

    There's a ton wrong here -- and a lot we might not have been told. Hey, maybe this just runs right up the winteller fanboi club, or the macfanboi club. But this non-professional can easily see a lot that the user here could have done to contribute to her problems. Thankfully, she didn't get really hurt -- but the rest of this screams out for a competent consultant -- not the genius bar, or the winteller 'geniuses here.

  106. Webster Phreaky

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ...

    This is just too hysterical, all the MacDweeb FanBoys squirming and sqawking and not a single one answering with facts or addressing he issue.

    Here's one - Apple has been and is being sued more often than any other current computer brand by its customers since 1991!

    Nice record of customer satisfaction, Apple.

  107. Jeffrey


    This is very depressing, the complaining in the story the bashing and complaining in the comments, everything. There really is no way to ensure 100% quality on 100% of a product line, the ensuing man hours would shoot the cost of a $1200 product to over $3000, then no one would buy one. I really do not see the point of allowing "reporters" of the Register to complain as a story. This is not a story it is a rant.

    I worked for HP as a tech support rep for three years offering service to laptop owners. I can tell you that I was confronted with these same issues all the time. Three to nine times a week I had to explain to someone that it would cost $900 USD to replace either their LCD or Motherboard due to customer damage. And after the price comes out the conversation tends to get nasty. As for the design flaws, which cause customer damage, Apple has minimized these with many of their own innovations. The MagSafe Power connector for one. 80% of all customer damage calls were due to the fact that someone either tripped over the power cord or due to regular use the internal pin or power connection inside the computer had come loose. Apple had this problem mostly solved with it's previous implementation of its power connector, but did not wait for someone to surpass them, they created something 10 times better than anyone else was offering.

    Yes I love apple products, do I think Apple Inc. is infallible? No. For that matter neither is anyone else. And having worked for HP for three years, I can say without a doubt that Apple's quality control is far better. On several fairly frequent occasions I had to calm people down that had not seen their computer since it was picked up, 9 weeks ago, and others still who had been through 4 repairs with each repair cycle reaching toward 2 weeks.

    As for setting up a pickup, it is not an exact science, as some "educated" people would have you believe. It is merely a poorly implemented scheduling system. Theoretically if the routs are mapped out on computer and it is known how long it takes to do the run it shouldn't be a problem to postulate approximately when the truck would be by. Thereby giving possibly a 2 hr window as opposed to an 8 hr garage door.

    There is no reason that this "article" should be a part of the Register's Hardware section. It should be part of Odds and Sods, under a new section called Reg Rants (RR's). These RR's have become increasingly frequent in past weeks and it is disheartening to say the least. I fear the Reg is in jeopardy of losing more than a few readers, and they are quickly losing my respect with this kind of frivolity. Rants do have a place, but articles should be written with detachment not personal feeling and tainted perspective lest they become an editorial.

    When writing an article submitted as news it is prudent to consider more than one viewpoint, thus ensuring an even and well-lit story, which people of many dispositions can enjoy. I must admit that this article is in far better taste than the senseless iPhone rant but I still believe it belongs in RR's.

    For your consideration.

  108. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor Quality of Goods

    I have had a look at the photos of these burned cords and I cant believe they have not made a better cord. To me it looks like the insulation is not entirely capable of doing a proper job. I think this is because its on a laptop, with the cable being manoeuvred a lot it wears down and then suddenly shorts (think of stretching an elastic band over and over again) ... this causes a surge of current to flow through and the cable heats up very quickly .... and yes electricity can go through insulators. They are not 100%, i have seen electrical arcs between two cables that were supplying a neon signage board that ran alongside each other and the sheath width was about 0.5-1cm thick.

    This Apple cable on a whole looks barely even 0.5cm thick so how thick is the actual insulation ???

    If you feel I am wrong ... then here is a simple test. Plastic being the preferred insulator ... take one sheet of cling wrap(plastic wrap) and take an electrical cord and strip the live and neutral wires. bend them so they form a loop and have no pointing edges of wires sticking out (don't want to peirce the cling wrap) and using the cling wrap over one wire laying down covering it ... lower the other wire onto the covered wire. I am sure you will feel safe and nothing will happen ... or will it? Alternatively consult a fellow electrician on his views on plastic being the 100% insulator ...

  109. Tom Peach

    Look at the facts

    Apple sell "consumer" and "business" laptops, Emily bought the consumer version. They offer a support contract, she opted not to go for it.

    Her laptop failed, and Apple replaced it for her, they were under no obligation to replace it same day or next day. They even eventually upgraded her to the machine she should have bought in the first place.

    Emily was burnt? The offer of a more expensive machine was acceptable compensation to her so she took it.

    I imagine most of you work in IT, what do you do when you have a system failure and trading/payments/whatever stops? Do you wait for Sun to turn up and fix the hardware, tell your users to wait a bit? No, you have a DR plan, because disasters happen, and you can only rely on yourself to recover from them.

    Apple fulfilled their obligations as a supplier, I never would have considered buying Apple but I might now.

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Buy Thinkpad for quality in laptops

    Cannot imagine why anyone thinks Mac laptops are quality items. You want quality, buy a Thinkpad. And put PCLinux or Debian on it if you don't want Windows. With the Apple line you are paying more than you need, for products where everything has been subordinated to how things look. Especially the cooling. They would rather have it overheat than have either a big enough case or a loud enough fan. Has been a continual problem with Apple for most of its history. Idiotic.

  111. Kevin Hall

    Hopeless Apple excuses

    It always amuses me that the Apple fanboys blame the victim for the piece of shit they've bought. Regardless of whether she should have backups of data, backups of laptops and all that crap, you're completely missing the fucking point: you're blaming the victim for a terrible quality computer and terrible after sales service. Stop defending Apple like they're a fucking workers co-op who are for the betterment of mankind when they're just a money-grabbing piece of shit company like every other. Like all OEMs they value engineer their hardware to death trying to shave off a cent here and a cent and before you know it they're selling a plastic coated turd.

  112. Nathanael Bastone

    Apple pie good, soufflé flat

    Apple are good, VERY good at making stylish, good-looking desktops, such as the one I am writing this from now. However, because they are moving into new areas with new technology so fast, the technology is not preforming to the high standards you would expect of a company with such a good previous reputation. Apple appears to be transforming from a 'plucky little garage startup' company, into a 'draconian, Microsoft-minded empire builder.' Until Apple abandons this notion of dominating the world via iTunes and pulls it's head out of the clouds, it will continue to produce sub-standard products, and that is why my next laptop, as my current one is, will be sans-OS X.

  113. applekicksass

    thats not ur hand thats the back of ur neck

    ok use idvd to get ur dvds burned , second of all you didnt burn your hand at all , thats a picture of your neck cause i see an earlobe , third theres no way in hell magsafe powercords can burn you in fact i keep mine plugged into my macbook 24/7 . you can pretty much lick the damn thing while its plugged into the wall and it won't catch fire or shock you.

    just another idiot proving that you know shit about shit on macs.

  114. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: To the 'First Generation' apologists

    "Why is this acceptable? Why do all the (Apple, especially) fanboys gleefully tell everyone that only idiots buy a product when it first comes out? Apple have been making laptops for years- just because they changed from "iBook" to "MacBook" doesn't mean they have carte blanche to roll out a buggy, unfinished product to the public"

    Name a first generation technology (and it is first generation when a product is revamped like the Intel range of Macs are) which hasn't had its faults.

    If you think this is unacceptable that any long-term technology company would do this where are you criticisms for Vista/XP or XBox/XBox360? All of which were initially released with major faults. And Microsoft has even acknowledged their products haven't initially been complete on release.

    Seriously, you can give shit to Apple if you so desire for this, but i've been into computers for over 20 years now, and throughout that time its been a re-occuring theme from the greater majority of manafacturers (Apple, Microsoft, Dell, HP, Sony, etc) on the market to release a product which is initially under-par.

    That's why early adopters take a risk when buying a technology which has not had a large period of time to be tested in a wide scale real world environment.

  115. Tim Porter

    Any chance of some work?

    "When I agreed to the upgrade as my compensation I thought my experience of a melted MagSafe was uncommon. But a quick check in flickr shows a different story, as do reports on

    Had I known this while talking to executive relations I would have pushed the issue of health and safety much further. Instead, I've asked Apple why there hasn't been a product recall and what it takes to agree to one. They have said...well, nothing.

    So, I'll say this. Until there is a product recall, do not charge up your MacBooks unattended and never near flammable materials"

    Apple, I believe should have done a product recall BUT I think the following is worth pointing out:

    If Emily had gone through a bit more carefully, she would have seen that it reported in February that Apple had introduced a new type of magsafe, as O’Grady’s Power Page reported a month earlier. Looking at the photo, she posted, it looks like she had the first-generation magsafe. Although this doesn’t mean there should’t be a recall, there is nothing in the story to reflect that this problem affects a component that is no longer being supplied by Apple - maybe for as long as seven months.

    I don’t believe that there is any evidence that the problem is not “uncommon”. Given just how well the MacBooks have sold, I would have expected far more reports to have emerged. I’m not trying to underplay the seriousness of the problem that Emily and others have encountered, but given that Appledefects have had just two reports in the last five months, I don’t think it professional for Emily to suggest a cursory inspection of that site and flickr is all the evidence she needs.

    Incidentally, if you check Mac tech sites like Macintouch and Macfixit (these two are great for coverage of all sorts of Mac problems, big and small), you’ll note that the magsafe problem has received very little coverage; I have no reason to suspect that this is anything other to do than the number of reports they have received.

    Incidentally, Macintouch did a reader survey at the end of last year that covered about 3,000 Apple laptops, all using magsafes; there were six reports of unsafe magsafe. Personally, I feel that was six cases too many, but as Macintouch pointed out, it had been expecting far more reports if the magsafe was as unsafe as was being suggested by some forum posters.

    Speaking as someone who has works now and then as a journalist, I think Emily should have taken a deep breath, step back and did a bit more research first. Certainly, the magsafe issue deserves a serious article, but I’m afraid this wasn’t it and I was put in mind of more than one forum poster than a pro.

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Sorry to hear of your poor experience with Apple. But you don't have my sympathy.

    Stuff packs up all the time. Mostly after the warranty has just expired. You get some new stuff. End of. Sometimes the stuff packs up within the warranty. Sometimes that's more of a hassle as you can be back and forth trying to sort it out when you'd rather have some new stuff. (Sh)It happens. No get shakes, your business doesn't depend on your stuff.

    But what if your business does depend entirely on your stuff? What is your contingency plan? What does your business plan say for when stuff packs up? If it doesn't have this basic strategy for when stuff goes wrong, it's not a sound business is it?

    To extrapolate your experience into 'you can't run a business on a MacBook' is not good journalism.

  117. Chris Sutton

    don't want to sound insensitive, but...

    this is why real work should be done on a PC. I've never liked apple (too much style over substance), but shoddy hardware is just the final nail in the coffin. Its not like you have a choice of alternative hardware manufacturers with apple. and what the hell is a "logic board"!!

  118. Ron Eve

    A word from tech support to Emily Turner

    <the following extract is lifted from a well-known tech support story, but it applies here I think>

    Operator: "Well, turn on the office light then."

    Caller: "I can't."

    Operator: "No? Why not??"

    Caller: "Because there's a power failure."

    Operator: "A power......... A power failure? Aha, Okay, we've got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in??"

    Caller: "Well, yes, I keep them in the closet."

    Operator: "Good. Go get them, and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from."

    Caller: "Really? Is it that bad?"

    Operator: "Yes, I'm afraid it is."

    Caller: "Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them??"

    Operator: "Tell them you're too f*cking stupid to own a computer!!!!!"

  119. Simon

    This makes me laugh...

    Long time reader, first time commenter...

    I just had to write something because reading these comments sections make me laugh more and more!!!

    Firstly, I’m sorry to hear about what happened to the laptop and your troubles with it, but as many people have said, that happens to everyone with most kit be it Apple, Wintel or even Unix/Linux! (Yes, even they will suffer from hardware failure!)

    But i really do have to say something about all the Apple evangelists commenting on this story... All i read is how El Reg hates Apple, El Reg hates the iPhone, El Reg has some vendetta against Lord Jobs...

    Come on, the problem is you have been living in this marketing cocoon for so long believing Apple is omnipotent and can do no wrong when in actual fact, they are just human beings, not some kind of saviour of the IT World sent by the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

    They make mistakes, they have manufacturing faults, their stuff will fail...

    It's about time you realised this and accepted it before berating everyone that writes a (mildly) objective piece on Apple or its products


  120. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just be glad you're not here...

    The situation is worse if you live in Northern Ireland, there's no Apple Service Centre whatsoever. It all gets couriered to some place in Scotland, which is truely awful for repair turnaround times.

  121. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How come she lost work??

    Kit fails, especially if you leave in heating up under a sofa every night but I'm more interested in how come during this hellish time when you "couldn't" work you managed to update your blog every other day?. Was this whilst working part time in the PR office that employs you?, just interested :-)

  122. Ron Eve

    You read it here first

    And in other news today:

    There will always be failures. There will always be death. There will always be taxes.

    And sometimes the way these things are handled is less than satisfactory. Shit happens.

    And people with problems will ALWAYS be more vocal than those without. If you're happy, you get on with your life.

    It wouldn't be a very interesting read if 95% of the comments were about how happy people were.

  123. Tom Peach

    RE: How come she lost work??

    Fair point, also what was she using prior to owning the MacBook? Couldn't she have used her old laptop? Maybe she sold it or it caught fire.

    This article has clearly struck a chord with a lot of readers, I think El Reg think that articles that annoy folks have more people coming back for more. This is probably true short term, after which we get bored from lack of content.

  124. Bad Beaver

    Why in the world are comments moderated...

    ...if apparently every bit of bull goes through? Everyone expected this to turn into a fanboy-fest. What is to be observed is that there are very, very few Apple fanboys to be observed. Most of the decent commenters focus, correctly, on the blatant ineptness and stupidity of Emily Turner. On the other hand, there are dozens of posts from Apple-hating crapheads, and these especially love to complain about "all the fanboys here", athough there are none to be observed.

    Best one so far, Webster Phreaky:

    "Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha Apple P O S bwah ha ha ha ha ... [repeated]

    This is just too hysterical, all the MacDweeb FanBoys squirming and sqawking and not a single one answering with facts or addressing he issue."

    Am I missing something?

    El Reg used to be a place where you would happily read letters/comments, but by now the comments section seems to turn into the same kind of cesspit it is elswhere.

  125. Philip Stott

    Wow, I'm glad I missed that train wreck!

    2 weeks ago I bought a Sony Vaio SZ5. At the time I was thinking shall I get a Macbook instead, because you get a better spec for the money.

    The Sony is light, fast and reliable and it sounds like buying one over a Macbook is good advice for everyone.

  126. Bad Beaver

    What I mean...

    I hope you got me the right way. There is no need to OBSERVE comments if you let everything pass.

  127. Brian Miller

    FYI Richard Kilpatrick

    I am not ill-informed actually.

    One of my close friends bought a cute little 12 inch mac a couple of years ago.

    He found that there was not any available codecs for playing xvid, divx, ogg, mkv, and many other video codecs. This is now a moot point as things like VLC player have sprung up, but during the time it really pissed him off. He could pay for apples divx crapware, which he did eventually.

    I may just be confusing myself with a hardware issue but he also asked me to get him cd-writing because he couldn't do it from the box. In the end I am sure he did get it sorted, I being of little help since my previous mac experience is limited. You seem to be quoting from the most recent lines, I am refering to my experiences which are not as current, but due to those bad exp.'s is why I am not current.

    Mostly my point about macs is that they are inaccessible for self repair, even more so than dells.

    If you fancy educating me on macs I would appreciate it as I know a LOT about "generic" PC's but little about macs.

    P.S. Vista is for Loozers. Even to mention it could bring shame on you and your family. ;^)

  128. Tim

    Couriers, deliveries, etc

    Main sympathy you get from me is over the shockingly crap courier service we have in the UK. Nothing to do with Apple, it's just terrible service where they commit to a specific time slot, you wait in (often costing money in time off work), and they fail to turn up, or they arrive outside that time and then blame you for not being in!

    Not just couriers either. Engineers too (NTL are the worst).

    If there's something that needs sorting out in this country it's this kind of thing.

  129. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Horses for courses...

    Having just bought a MacBook I read this article with interest.

    I wouldn't describe myself as either a windows or OS X fan, I've always used windows in the past, and found myself trying a few flavours of linux ove the last few years, but never one I've found satisfactory for me, a unix novice, and classic none-techie but tech literate business user.

    I guess Apples biggest advantage is also their achillies heel. In the couple of months I've been using it, I've found the Macbook stable and reliable, but I'd expect it to be as Apple control the hardware and software and to a degree restrict my software choices, and by means of this impose an increased cost on me.

    On the other hand, Windows allows me fantasic flexibility and hardware options, and as has been said, quick "self fix" potential, but all at the cost that, for me at least, the overall experience is less stable and intuative.

    On balance I'm very pleased with the MacBook, but I was equally pleased with the Toshba XP laptop that it replaced. Cracking open the case to repair that was a doddle, opening this MacBook doesn't really appeal ;-)

    So what have I learned from this thread? Well, I'll think carefully about taking out some AppleCare I think..!

  130. Tim Porter

    Wow, I'm glad I missed that train wreck!

    Philip, what Emily is really complaining about here is the customer service she got from Apple.

    The early problems Emily had indicate that she got a bad unit – as other posters have mentioned, statistically this will happen, whatever the manufacturer.

    Although Emily was sold a lemon, the magsafe problem (as I’ve stated above) was an issue identified by Apple, which in its wisdom chose to fix on the quiet, rather than do a product recall. Although this component was phased out (to the best of my knowledge) in January of this year, Emily chose not report this and from her final words on the subject, I’ve inferred that she was not aware of this. This is particularly sloppy as the site (Appledefects) she claims to have looked at, makes it very clear that Apple had replaced the older magsafe with a newer model – there was even a picture comparing the two models.

    Similarly, the discoloured plastic palmrest problem she mentions in passing, was another issue affecting older MacBook models, which Apple rectified months ago – not saying this makes it okay, but it doesn’t affect current models.

    Not that you could tell that from the article.

    To me, this article reads like an impassioned forum post of the type, which is full of emotion and devoid of useful context. The type of post that confuses readers into thinking the technical problems being encountered is a current one – especially, as Emily is displaying the kind of logic that says ‘I have encountered this problem, and so have a small number of people who have said so on the Internet.. ipso facto, it must not be an uncommon problem.’

    If Emily thinks not having a MacBook has cost her so much freelance work, does she really think coming up with this kind of article will have the opposite effect. Still, by mentioning her children, she could take over from Polly Filler at Private Eye.

  131. Matthew Harris

    Not Unusual

    ...and not just with Macs.

    Just to be clear: never had a mac, never want a mac... but I had a very similar problem to Emily with a 'normal' laptop. Nice shiny new Acer one, bought it specifically for 64bit processor and an NVidia GPU. Within about two months of purchase the DVD drive utterly died (and it had hardly been used). I didn't send it for repair as I was too busy to be without it at the time. However, within six months the whole thing was dead, seems that something inside it had melted (looks like they'd not realised that a high spec processor produces more heat, and hadn't tested it properly). As 'twas well within the free support/replacement etc. period I sent it off to them (by courier). Everything seemd OK. Then I heard nothing for a month, contacted them, they said that they were waiting for parts and it would be ready in a couple of weeks. Tried again in a couple of weeks, and they said they no longer had the parts because they didn't make that model any more so they'd send me a new one. Heard nothing for another few weeks, got in touch with them again and they promised to send me another one. The new laptop turned up a week or so later. Took one quick look at it and sent it back. No 64bit processor (the new one was a low-end centrino) and no GPU (onboard intel crap instead). I sent it back as it wasn't fit for purpose and actually worked out nearly £200 cheaper than the original. They then sent me another one about a month later. This one retailed at about the same price as my original machine, but still didn't have the specs I required - 32-bit processor (dual-core though), and a low-end ATI graphics card. So after about a year, two replacement machines & a phone bill I really don't want to think about (bloody premium rate support lines with never-ending hold...) and bought a new laptop from ASUS, who seem to have a much better record on support.

    What I'm saying is that Emily's experience seems to be standard practice for a number of major laptop retailers - unlike a standard desktop (or desktop mac), you can't normally take a laptop down to your local family-run computer shop to get it fixed, and are therefore locked in the neverending support battle with a company that really doesn't give a damn about the poor suckers that buy their products. Not that I'm bitter or anything ;)

  132. James Shepherd

    Me Too

    DVDRW failed - replaced under warrantee

    battery failed - replaced under warrantee

    HD failed unfortunately just after a year :-(

    SuperDuper! is good for backups, saved my skin.

    Crashes more in a day than my old Linux/Sony used to in a year (this IS NOT AN EXAGERATION), so I'll be back to another Vaio when I can afford it.

    Though for those that can't manage linux, which is most people, then I still recommend apple, as it is more stable and sane than Windoze.

  133. Richard Kilpatrick

    Brian - Google in the future :D

    No Codecs a couple of years ago? Christ. I should have checked my time machine was working when I was playing with VLC on a G4 system in 2004 or so; basically as long as you've had OS X you've had access to tools like ffmpeg. I've never paid for DiVX Crapware; VLC handles it fine, but also, there are a few freely downloadable codecs and always were.

    It's hardly like Windows comes swollen with codecs, either - I just had to dig around to make MCE play M4A files and it still won't add them to the library; the first "I'm fairly sure this isn't some crapware/trojan/useless junk" one I tried decided they were video, since it was targeting the MPEG4 video playing market. Say all you like, but out of the box, Apple's media support is VASTLY greater than Windows.

    Macs are not necessarily impossible for self-repair. I own about 80 of the damn things from 1984 to present day, and they can be repaired, even the laptops, with a little care. Expensive, yes. Impossible? No. My G5's firewire is dead because I stupidly plugged in a faulty iPod USB/Firewire charger (third party one, killed a 3G iPod too - it caught fire, oddly enough, but that's not Apple's fault, it was a faulty lead) and all the FW400 ports are now fused I presume. To fix it, I either have to spend a LOT on a logic board, or shove a PCI Firewire card in, which I will do having found one.

    Anyway, just FYI, Macs since 1999 have had all the productivity stuff, and since 2001, OS X has transformed the way Apples behave OS-wise. The hardware has for the most part improved too; anyone remembering 'Diesel' Spindler's years knows what crap Apple churned out under the Performa/Centris brand.

    As for Vista - it's my job to use it in this case, I'm a tech journalist. Reviewing Vista is part of reviewing the hardware since it's the only OS option available in this case, and I am determined to give it a fair showing and not pan it without justification. Coming from daily Mac use, it's a LOT harder to do that than I'd hoped! Thankfully the other PC I'm reviewing right now (which costs more than a MacBook and definitely won't be user-repairable!) is running XP SP2 - doesn't do much more, but at least I expect it not to do it :D

  134. Phillip Davis

    Hey, wow, a bad Apple!

    Oh my, goodness gracious, someone had a problem with an Apple! Perhaps it's because they are almost bulletproof that such a case is unusual enough to warrent rabid publicity. Had this been a Wintel machine the incident would not have raised an eyebrow.

    Although I am no longer in the computer retail sector I sold Apple (and PC) computers for over 18 years and have owned an Apple almost as long and never saw anthing remotely like the this case. By contrast, one could expect a fault, hardware problem or incompatablility with at least 1 in 3 PC's. One company who shall be nameless but have been I.n the B.usiness for M.any years once told me to inform a customer that a problem with their new machine was a "feature" and not a fault!

    Given a wealth of retail experience you must excuse me for being cynical but reading between the lines it strikes me that perhaps this person was angling for a replacment machine and is dissappointed that she did not get her own way. I experienced it so many times in my days as a salesman I could write a book.

    My biggest suspicion is aroused by the power cord picture. The break is so close to the connecter it appears to me there has been some undue stress at the joint. Whilst I am not suggesting deliberate abuse or undue user stressing of the connector, I sold Apple portables of all flavours for many years and have never seen this happen even with the old 'hard wired' PSU's. As for the 'burn', I have had worst looking scratches. Stick some ointment on it for goodness sake.

    OK, so the DVD drive broke... it happens. It's an outsourced component (take a look at system profiler) and the odd duff one does crop up. So are hard disks. Even Apple mice are outsourced. The logic board problems were unfortunate but once again, it happens. Anyone with an ounce of nouse would realise there are hundreds of components and it only takes the wrong one to break a machine.

    So there were problems and there seems to have been an unfortunate catalogue of errors but such a thing is as rare as hens teeth with Apple and no manufacturer or dealer is perfect (I once saw a broken axle on a Rolls!). As a percentage of market share I doubt if Apple are anywhere near as bad as PC manufacturers.

    As for the idiot PC brigade who have posted the most stupid comments I have seen in recent history, I can assure you that having sold and used both flavours of machine and operating system wild horses would not drag me kicking and screaming back to Wintel! Get a Dell? Get lost!

    Apple may have the odd issue - occasionaly - but all of my machines and those owned by others of my aquaintance have worked out of the box, 99.9% of the time and without the fear of unexpected failure or the need to upgrade every couple of months. I have yet to have a friend or relative with a faulty Mac wheras one of my work colleagues recently had to return his "bargain" branded PC portable just three weeks after purchase and a friend had the most horrendous battle with HP to get his PDA fixed.

    Oh yes, I have seen an Apple crash (shock horror)... it worked fine again as soon as MS Office was uninstalled - need I say more?. One of my PC owning friends upgraded his motherboard (my iMac is 18 months old and works faster without anything more than some extra RAM) and can no longer run a program despite several telephone calls and Windows update downloads. My "expensive and under spec" Mac encodes video for authoring twice as fast as his PC despite his chipset being, on paper, nearly twice as fast as mine. I have lost count of those asking me for help with XP and as for Vista, well, where shall I start?

    I doubt many - if any - of those critising Apple have ever touched one of their machines let alone used or bought one. Unlike the Wintel camp, I make considered judgements on practical experience, not on biased comment from unreliable sources which is more often than not based on little more than heresay and rumour.

    As for a product recall, please, get real will you?. When the 'never used an Apple because it's too different/PC's are cheaper' camp demand the same from their makers every single time a machine faults then I will demand the same from Apple. Until then, get a life and give it a rest eh?

    Am I an Apple snob? You bet I am. My smugness comes from knowing that like the owners of made to measure clothes, Porche cars, Bose sound systems and Omega watches, I have paid for and own some of the best kit there is. If I am sad about anything Apple has done it's releasing iTunes and Safari for Windows. The best analogy I can think of is that it's akin to putting champagne in ring pull cans. Casting pearls to the swine or what!

    Is the The Register biased against Apple? Nope. Just don't know any better, that's all.

  135. arran

    me too

    i left my macbook pro charging, in a puddle, covered in cling-film, under the sofa, with my pet rats chewing the cable, while my pet dog defecated on the keyboard and my 3 year old son hit it with a hammer he found laying about and it burnt me too!

    who would of thought it....

  136. Adam

    Customer Service people

    I think you need some lessons in Mau Mauing. Check out Tom Wolfe's book. I have found it very useful, use it frequently when needed, and have excellent results when dealing with recalcitrant companies, including a new car after using one for 18 months. Not a bad result.

  137. Law


    Will it blend?? MWUHAHAHAHAHAHAAARRRRRR.....

    PS - I'm not an apple fan, so this story and it's comments made me happy! :)

  138. Jason Clery

    An ear???

    err thats a leg and a foot. How the hell did you see an ear in there?

  139. Daniel Tadecicco

    wow that sucks!

    I always thought Apple computers were reliable! very worries to here about these dangerous power supplies for macbooks! I hope your new Macbook Pro is serving you better than your Macbook did! =)

  140. Douglas Carroll

    So..what company is perfect then?

    Sorry you had problems, but what company is supposed to be better? Dell? IBM? HP? EVERY company has it's share of problems, and after you complained to Apple on the phone you got upgraded to a MUCH more expensive computer for free. The time you lost because of the problem is part of the price of doing business...if you NEED a tool for your business to operate then it's up to you to have a backup solution in case of emergencies, instead of bitching about your lost productivity. I also own a business and if any of my critical business tools fail, I arrange a replacement and life goes on. ALSO, when I purchase my Apple computers that I need for my business, I purchase the Applecare so I don't have to worry about's the price of doing business. If this had been another computer manufacturer how do you think it would have been different? Dell would have kissed your ass and given you a bunch of free crap to make you feel better? Get real. Yes, you unfortunately ended up with a LEMON laptop, but sometimes that kind of stuff happens REGARDLESS of with it and get on with your life..or if you HATE Apple so much now, sell someone your new Mac PRO at a HUGE profit over what you originally paid for the Macbook and buy a Windows laptop...somehow I kind of doubt that you will do that though.......

  141. Glen Turner

    Replacement parts

    I've had a similar experience, but with Dell. Four motherboards within a month.

    It's pretty plain to me that the replacement parts used for servicing are *reconditioned* parts. That is, they have been removed on suspicion of being faulty, but no fault could be verified. Unfortunately, this often means that the part is actually faulty but inadequately tested before being added to the stock of spares.

    This means that once you have a fault your odds of getting a on-going lemon are massively increased.

    The only way out of this ongoing pain is to hassle the vendor for a factory-new machine. I made the mistake the first time of settling for a "as-new" (ie, returned with a fault, inadequately tested, added to pile of "reconditioned, as-new" machines). Of course, it was actually faulty.

    Two final observations.

    1. Vendors don't know how these things work anymore. I rejected a machine because it's ethernet port didn't work. To make this more than a assertion I ran the standard logic analyser measurements from the ethernet standard and it showed a under-voltage when loaded. That sent the vendor alternatingly confused and ballistic (thinking that I'd opened the cover).

    2. You need the cooperation of your government consumer agency to force a refund. Most suppliers of electronic kit allow 3% for refunds, I suspect computer manufacturers allow for 0%. Computer manufacturers don't want to hear that a unrepairably faulty machine leads to a right of refund (at least here in Oz) and don't have any procedure for this in any case.

  142. Too Complicated

    I’m sorry and I hope you’re all right

    I’m shocked what I’m hearing. A lady gets burned, physically burned (with photos to show it), and all many people can say is, “Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha.” Didn’t anybody here think to say "I'm so sorry. I hope you’re all right?" Instead the subject quickly became “Apple is under attack and which side are you on.” Who cares! This a human being we're talking about and it shouldn’t have happened with any machine—even a can opener. As one anonymous commentator wrote, “Getting an electric shock and being burnt is simply not acceptable. If you had a heart condition or suffer from epilepsy, it could have been serious." And as Ally, another commentator questioned, "Why is this acceptable?"

    I didn’t post to take sides or to defend issues. As Emily wrote about leaving the laptop under the couch, “I told them it doesn't take a genius to work out the risk and added that I have two children under four in the house.” It was a bad idea plain and simple. Additionally, not having a backup computer when your business is journalism is also indefensible. In fact, to tell you the honest truth, I don’t know of any company, where computers are mission-critical, that would allow an employee to be without one for more than two days and, as one commentator pointed out, “how come during this hellish time when you ‘couldn't’ work you managed to update your blog every other day?” Everyone can afford even a used computer and to go 55 days without one and still keep her job? I’m not sure how she did it.

    The point I’m trying to get to is let’s remember to be respectful when it comes to posting. Nobody likes to be shouted at, made fun of, called “stupid.” In fact, one of the most frightening things that I ever read was from another commentator who wrote, "silly silly're like my granny. one time she had to change the light bulb in the kitchen. she stopped doing the washing up, climbed on a wooden stool and replaced the light bulb with her wet rubber gloves dripping water. dumb luck can't always be depended on." I’d hate to be his grandmother.

    Here’s just a sampling of some of the comments. I’ve left the names out because of the point that I just made:

    "A word from tech support to Emily Turner...'Tell them you're too f*cking stupid to own a computer!!!!!'"

    "Most of the decent commenters focus, correctly, on the blatant ineptness and stupidity of Emily Turner."

    "She's a woman, of course this article is melodramatic. Of course she did everything wrong; like baking it every night under the sofa or not calling Applecare when her screen started flickering and logging a ticket before total failure or RTFM. I wonder if her "check engine" light is on right now...When she finally called during her "emergency", I'm sure she was a bitch on the phone making the customer service person keep her on hold a little longer. Guys, she is a woman. This is how they are. Even in the end, she gets a much better computer and she still isn't happy. Just like a woman, there is nothing anyone can do to make her happy, including a multi-billion dollar company that occasionally may have a lemon or two slip by QC. I can only imagine what she is like when her significant other doesn't put down the toilet seat! This is not journalism, it is a bitchfest. I wonder it El Reg had to pay for this article?"

    "you are a sucker. P.T. Barnum only wishes he had met you...Women! they can be soo lame sometimes."

    "Boo Hoo...So you got a lemon. Boo Hoo"

    "El Reg: Emily, when Apple PR ask you if you are a *God*, you say "YES""

    "the machine the writer ended up with was a far superior machine by comparison, and will be a much greater investment, so in some respects the writer is lucky to have such issues in terms of short term hassle, but long term gain."

    "How much will you pay me to whinge about my experiences to your readers? Thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing from you."

    "So you bought a lemon, its regrettable...What result exactly would have made you happy? Oh, heres a £1500 laptop and your money back? Come on."

    "you manage to make yourself sound like an ass, to such an extent I can't feel any pity for you."

    "You can't blame your poor planning on apple - they didn't help the situation but since you were whining about having to act as their personnel manager it seems a tad hypocritical to expect them to be your contingency for free."

    "I'm impressed you weren't tempted to play the "I'm a tech journalist, so sort this out sharpish or I'll write you up" card. If you did, and this was the result, heaven help us non-journo types."

    "Pardon me while I wipe away these crocodile tears...Here's a clue"

    "somehow I kind of doubt that you will do that though......."

    "Sorry to hear of your poor experience with Apple. But you don't have my sympathy."

    "Main sympathy you get from me is over the shockingly crap courier service we have in the UK. Nothing to do with Apple, it's just terrible service where they commit to a specific time slot"

    “As for a product recall, please, get real will you?. When the 'never used an Apple because it's too different/PC's are cheaper' camp demand the same from their makers every single time a machine faults then I will demand the same from Apple. Until then, get a life and give it a rest eh?”

    And this one that I just plain didn’t understand:

    "What are you doing trying to burn DVDs and CDs? The feature is clearly just unimplemented"

    The world’s mean enough right now and we don’t need any more mean. Although several of Emily's actions are open to question, the fact remains that her computer should not have done the things it did, much less catch on fire and almost electrocute her. Let’s not forget that. And no one has the right to be publicly abusive. I don’t care what the reason is. If you’ve got something to say, say it respectfully—as one human being to another. There’s enough aggression in the world lately. Let’s keep it civil and to borrow the words of the last commentator, “give it a rest eh?”

  143. Gareth Williams

    Are you MAD????

    "The next day, 21 May, I called Apple. I stressed that I often leave my laptop charging overnight under the sofa on the carpet."


    I cannot believe anyone would do this. Laptops require plenty of ventilation - leaving one charging overnight on a carpet is simply asking for trouble. If the lapop does not have sufficient ventilation (which in your case it doesnt) the components inside will fry - whether its an Apple, IBM or Dell laptop.

    Never place your laptop on a carpet or even your duvet.

    Your lucky you got any money back at all.

  144. Tom Peach

    @ Too Complicated

    Your post was the most boring, stupid, silly post I have ever read, ever.

  145. Too Complicated

    Response to Tom Peach


    Because I don't have a tolerance for a vicious gang mentality that gets off on and enjoys publically ripping apart a human being because that's the kind of great specticle that it takes to impress thousands of people that the commentator will never meet;

    Because I don't accept when a woman is aggressively, knowingly and chauvinistically debased in a very public forum that's known to be dominated by men so that they can feel good about themselves through male bonding;

    That I can't accept someone who thinks that their grandma almost being electricuted when she climbs up on a stool in midair to change a light bulb with wet gloves on is funny.

    But most of all, that I can't understand why, when a person gets electricuted and physically burned, that I can't understand why some people have to respond with "continued" emotional burning instead of saying, "I'm so sorry" for that person. As I say, I have yet to hear anyone else say it here.

    Tom, if feeling for another human being is somehow "boring, stupid" and "silly" and that's what you're defending here in your post, then I really "do" feel sorry.

    I said in my posting that I found many of Emily's decisions to be questionable. But I also said that wasn't the point of my posting: To treat a person the way some people have done in this forum is just plain mean and inhuman, but to write such vulgar epithets intending it specifically for a forum that everyone knows that thousands read is even more reprehensible. I only wanted to remind people, for the sake of human civility, to keep their comments responsible and civil. You know, the "do unto others" thing?--lest the same sort of thing happen to them? I mean, let's not forget that a person was electrocuted here.

    I believe in what I said and that's why I wanted to put it in print. Apparently you have done the same. I can say publicly that I can feel for another person in pain. Can you say that Tom?

  146. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    on charge under sofa?

    leaving your laptop under the sofa overnight on charge? you're lucky your house didnt burn down and kill you and your family as well! what an idiot! i

  147. Tom Peach

    @ Too Complicated

    You contribution to human civility is duly noted.

    I can only assume you post is satirical, in which case it's hilarious. If it's not, well, it's hilarious.

  148. The OC


    Woah, the sheer feeling of brilliance I have at owning the last model Powerbook G5... woot (and yes, i am a fan boy - music tech student =D)

  149. Matthew Ralston


    Yup, my Magsafe started to melt a few weeks back. At the other end to yours, where it comes out of the 'brick'. Other than that it looked very similar to your photo.

    When I rang up the AppleCare number, they were quite helpful and sounded concerned about the safety implications. They dispatched a replacement same day and I picked it up from the UPS depot a couple of days later (of course they deliver it to my house only when I'm at work). I sent the bad one back to them by return and that's the last I've heard of it.

    Fingers crossed this one will be ok, but a bit of Internet trawling suggests the fault might be with the laptop itself drawing too much current due to a faulty SMC. I guess I'll see how it goes.

    I noticed they've just launched new 'extra portable' 65W and 85W power supplies, so I wonder if any potential problem has been fixed with these.

  150. Jasmine Strong

    There's no such thing... a Powerbook G5. Sadly. Also, the Powerbook mains adaptors have the same design flaw as the Magsafe- insufficient strain relief.

  151. sioc

    Fanboy wars aside

    There seem to be three primary issues being addressed here.

    First, the author claims to have had crap customer service from Apple. That's a legitimate concern, and should be dealt with as such. Whether we've seen worse, personally, or prefer $PLATFORM, shoddy customer service is just that: Shoddy.

    Second, there is the question of how much the author contributed to her own problems with the machine, and with customer service. Leaving a notebook to charge, unattended, in a poorly ventilated area (in this case atop carpet and under a sofa) is likely to cause problems for the machine at best, a house fire at worst. Claiming that she does so as an argument to the manufacturer that their products are dodgy strikes me as appallingly ignorant. This is not blaming the victim for manufacturers' defects. It's acknowledgment that all machines, computers included, can be dangerous if not operated in an intelligent manner.

    Along with that, it would appear that the author hasn't done much planning for contingencies such as equipment failure and disaster recovery. This, also, is not the manufacturer's fault. Having made my living as a free-lance writer and consultant, I would never run my business as a single-threaded environment - depending upon one computer which, regardless of platform, would be likely to fail at a potentially critical moment. The idea of turning away days' worth of work because of a laptop failure strikes me as amateurish and stupid. (FWIW, I used two computers for work - a Windows notebook and a Linux desktop, with the bulk of work being done on the Linux box. Each had its strengths and its drawbacks.)

    Third and finally, there's the issue of professionalism. The parent article is obviously an opinion piece, and is presented as one. However, even op-ed pieces, when written by journalists, are commonly expected to adhere to minimal standards of professionalism. The idea that the parent article somehow establishes, or presents an informed opinion that one cannot run a business using a MacBook is ludicrous. Op-ed piece or not, anyone who presents herself as a journalist should, at a minimum, demonstrate enough objectivity to separate their own errors and culpability from that of the company they're harranguing. In this case, her article read like something written by a child at school rather than by a professional journalist.

  152. Martin

    Response to 'Too Complicated'

    Please show me where my post makes fun of my granny? I explain what she did and say that it was dumb luck that she wasn't electrocuted, as she had no idea that rubber and wood were insulators. She could just as easily have stood on a metal chair, and changed the bulb with her bare wet hands. That is dumb luck. And that's my comparison to the article writer. She left her laptop charging on a carpet, under a sofa. It's dumb luck that she got burned by the cable, and not the house. It's a lot harder for a human to catch fire than a carpet/sofa.

    In no way am I supporting dangerous/poorly designed equipment, but I've always taken pains to charge my laptops while they sit on a non-burning hard surface, like a marble floor or a glass shelf. You see the difference? The writer is wailing a sob story, and almost everyone here is pointing out that if you want to run a business, you should know a thing or two first. She has claimed thousands of dollars of lost work. Well, I can imagine that she would be one of those employees who costs a lot for a company to maintain, always asking IT why the coffee holder on her desktop computer isn't more stable. I've been there. I've seen it. This writer has only one point to make, and that is that computers (and electrical equipment in general) are still not id10t proof.

    As for my granny, she should have known better. She lived in a house with an electrical engineering husband (who made the first portable walkman, if you count having to carry around the old 12 volt batteries as portable), and engineer/CS sons. Yet she just copied what she saw someone else do, without knowing anything about electricity, ignoring what they had told her. Now, she's still my granny, and I love her, but she did something very silly, and is still here today because of dumb luck.

    Now the writer got paid for this article, which is just an opinionated comment, and I'm not getting paid for this opinionated comment. As one commentator said earlier, the Reg should start a new section called 'rants and raves', because that's what it's turning into. The Sun of Technology. Opinion, not Fact. Silly Innuendos.

    I'm off to arstechnica. I only read the reg now for the BOFH.

  153. Anthony White


    I don't understand people who argue that macs rubbish because they're not user serviceable. If you want a user serviceable machine then build one, If you can service one your self then you can build one yourself.

    It seems that people go soft when they try and get h/w repaired, push for same day repair, if they don't have an item in stock then push for a free rental of a new machine. Work your way up to the manager, kick up a fuss and they'll give you what you want just to get rid of you!

    Its not just apple that will attempt to fob you off with slow repair times it seems every manufacturer does it dell wanted 8 weeks to repair a new inspiron

  154. Richard

    Apple Airheads / Fanboys / blah blah

    "It is only fashion concious airheads that like apple because they dumb everything down for them and look "different"."

    Oh I wish I was fashion conscious, or had air in my head rather than 2 computing degrees (BSc + PhD) ... instead I buy Apple computers for Mac OS X as I've been using/administrating/programming with Unix (BSD+SysV) for more than 20 years and its nice to have the best of both GUI and command line worlds. I also prefer BSD based Unix to Linux's SysV roots.

    The hardware looks good yes and generally the build quality is excellent. I've had the occasional problem over the years but Apple directly, or my local independent Apple service centre, has always come up trumps. I have a 4 year old iBook G3 which suffered from a motherboard + case issue and was covered by an extended repair programme and had its board replaced 3 times [almost a lemon then], no problem. It still works a treat and gets used regularly for various things including as a backup for when my MacBook needs charging 8-)

    I had an iMac G5 suffer from an LCD screen issue in the first two weeks of having it, Apple sent me a completely new one under their DOA part of the one year warranty, years latter it still runs with no more hardware issues.

    The battery in my 16 month old (out of warranty) MacBook refused to charge and Apple just replaced it no questions asked under its battery replacement programme. I don't bother with paid-for extended warranties as I personally don't have a need for them and I'd rather put the extra £200 towards a new laptop or server when I need it in a few years time.

    My G3 "clamshell" ibook that is over 5 years old still works fine (the battery is long dead but the yoyo main adapter powers it) and so is the equally old and beautiful G4 Cube used in another room, which has only needed one replacement hard drive. The G3 iMac I bought from eBay came with a few months of its original warranty which Apple honoured when the analogue video board went phut but 5+ years later still works with no probs and still gets software updates for 10.3. Finally the G4 MacMini sits under the TV as a PVR and just works for years on end. Oh and yes the G4 Powermac is still quite happy as another server in the garage and has been for 4 years.

    All computers go wrong, whether you build them yourself or someone puts them together on a far-eastern production line. You should allow for failures and have a DR plan regardless of whether the computer is for your business or for personal use. I have 2TB of RAID 5 and RAID 1 on my file-server and DVD, CD, zip-drive and tape backup plus stuff stored in "cyberspace" ... and all that is just for personal data, not business use!

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