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Apple Tech Support

My love-hate relationship with Apple, Inc. continues.

The latest saga started early Monday morning. I got up, went into the office to check my e-mail and realized that the computer was making a very strange, loud noise. Sounded like a car engine idling, or perhaps a distant chainsaw. I didn't think that could be good—in fact, in my usual paranoid fashion, I assumed the hard drive was about to explode, so I did a quick backup and shut down the Mac (I do learn).

We got home from our dancing lesson around 8:00. Turned on the computer; still doing it. I called Apple to see if they could at least let me know if this was something I should be worried about. We were fairly sure by then that it was the fan and not the drive, but we weren't sure how big a problem that could be.

After five or ten minutes on hold I spoke to a woman who wanted to know if I had the extended service plan, since my 90 days of free tech support were up. I thought I had bought it, but had no record of having done so, so she put me on hold while she checked. Apparently this required her going to another building, since I spent another ten minutes or so on hold. Then the phone system abruptly kicked me back into the queue to wait for a new support person.

After another ten minutes had elapsed, I got to talk to a guy who wasn't even in tech support—I never did find out why he picked up the call—and who did at least try to be helpful but couldn't do much for me. Eventually he decided that I should talk to the sales department, since they might have a record of me buying the extended service, or at least of me buying the computer, since apparently they don't even have a record of my registering the thing after I bought it. (Of course, I lost the e-mail that would have proved I had done so when my hard drive had a near-death experience six weeks back).

I spent another twenty minutes on hold before being allowed to speak to a woman who informed me that since I apparently didn't have the extended service contract, I would need to purchase it before I got any tech support ($250). I explained that a) I had been on hold for twenty minutes and was not feeling pleasant, and b) since I wasn't even sure if this was a real problem or not, I was reluctant to sink that much money into the evening. She told me that I could also pay per "incident" if I preferred to do it that way, but it might end up costing more. All right, I asked, how much will that cost? She didn't know. Ballpark? She claimed she couldn't estimate. I asked if perhaps there was anyone there who could give me an estimate.

She finally admitted that it was $50 per incident and gave me the number of the support department.

I called the number. A computer informed me that, since it was now after normal support hours, I would need an extended service contract (which includes 24-hour support) before anyone would give me the time of the day.

I gave up and went to bed.

Tuesday morning, I turned on the Mac. It chirred for a moment and then settled down to its normal, quiet hum.

I'm starting to think that Apple scours Silicon Valley to find the worst tech support people in existence. Or that perhaps, despite my abiding affection for them, all Macs desire to drive me insane.

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© 2000 Rebecca J. Stevenson