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AppleCare Needs a Frequent Flyer Program

RIPI entitled this article “AppleCare Needs a Frequent Flyer Program” because if they had such a program, I’d be getting all kinds of free perks by now. If someone asked me if they should buy anything from Apple right now, there would be hesitation in my response. It’s that bad.

This weekend my 2016 Touch Bar MacBook Pro died. I know that buying on the bleeding edge of a new model year is often problematic. Normally though, you get early deaths, like with my 12″ MacBook that had to be replaced.My MacBook Pro’s slow death occurred when I realized it wasn’t charging while plugged into power. Oddly, the battery indicator in the menu bar showed it was charging, and it made that happy little noise when I plugged it in to indicate successful charging. The only problem was that the battery percentage was plummeting like a stone.

First thing I did was reseat the USB-C cable. Not a likely cause, since they seat pretty easily. Then I tried a different charging port. Then I tried a different outlet. Next I stole Steve’s USB-C cable, still no joy. I couldn’t use Steve’s USB-C charger because he has a 13 inch MacBook Pro and the charger is underpowered.

The next thing to do when you have a power problem is perform an reset of the System Management Controller, aka SMC reset. This varies by computer model so I included a link in the show notes to Apple’s support article on the dance you do to accomplish an SMC reset. After two attempts, the charge continued to drop.

I consider myself very lucky that I have three Apple stores within an hour of my house, but the closest one pretty much never has appointments available immediately. The one about 45 minutes away in Santa Monica had an appointment the day after we got home so that’s where I headed. I should mention my utter exhaustion getting there though. It took two and half hours of grueling driving to get home from San Diego – the kind of traffic only California has perfected. Then 45 minutes in even worse traffic across LA, only to find the parking structure I’d planned on being blocked off. I literally ran to my appointment, arriving 4 minutes late, worried sick they’d have given it away. Luckily they smiled and checked me in.

It didn’t take long for my little friend Salvador to figure out my Mac was in bad shape. I gave it to him with 1% battery left, and he seemed shocked when his diagnostic test didn’t complete before it died. I think he hadn’t grokked that plugging it into power while running the test wasn’t going to help.

He said they’d have to send it in, which wasn’t a shock, but my two choices were to have it shipped back to my house in 3-5 days, or to drive the grueling drive back to the Santa Monica store to pick it up. The problem is that we’re going to see Lindsay on Friday for her birthday so if it comes in 5 days I won’t be home. I begged him not to make me lose two hours of my life going back to Santa Monica. He said I needed to drop it off in Manhattan Beach (the close one to me) to pick it up there. I nearly cried.

He eventually thought of a plan. He called Manhattan Beach, and told them the work order number, and had them replicate it at their store. That meant I could waltz in and hand it to them in Manhattan Beach and not have to make an appointment. Ok, that’s better than nothing. The next day I dropped it off with Hannah and crossed my fingers it would come home early.

Now in the big picture, this week isn’t the worst week to have this happen. Bart had graciously agreed to do the show for us, and I had a whole week for them to get it back to me before I leave for Santa Clara to speak at Sal Soghoian’s Command-D Conference.

But the story doesn’t stop here, it gets much much worse. I’m going to tease this out for full sympathy so stay tuned for the worst part of the problem.

For Part 2 of this saga, please enjoy: That Time Apple Stole My Stuff (or Maybe Not)

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