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Posted by aaron at 11:01AM, Saturday, December 06th, 2003

Yay, Apple!

Two weeks ago, the screen on my Titanium PowerBook G4 snapped off. After a long call to AppleCare, and an anxious wait, I've got my 'Book back, with a new screen, and a new top bezel! In the end, I'm happy I sprang for AppleCare, and a lot of my faith in Apple's approach to support has been restored.

I was uncertain whether they'd fix it after the phone call, and after some touch-and-go encounters with Apple support, but it turns out, not only did they fix the screen, they did some other replacements as well. As I type this, I'm having to get used to the fresh new trackpad that's on this machine. Not yet coated with a layer of skin oil, it feels clean and oddly sticky. The screen now closes right, since with the new bezel is a new latch for the screen mechanism. That broke when the 'book was about four months old. There's a new combo drive in it -- though I'm not sure why; the old one worked fine for me. The top case is new, too. It had a big dent in it. And there's a new power supply. The old one (my second) was working, but its plug was about a month away from wearing out -- a design failure in these.

I should supply a little back story. Probably over a year ago now, the tiny metal tooth that fastens the magnetically-engaged tongue in the lid to the main case when you close the screen broke. It's not a very big piece of metal, and it just couldn't cope with the stress. Like a lot of people, I've got enough to keep me busy at the end of every week without taking my computer to Apple and complaining. Besides, the machine at that point had been back to them once for a failed hard drive, and I'd been to an Apple store to replace the power adapter. While they gave me a replacement adapter, the guy working made it clear that he could as easily have refused to exchange it. And this was following on the heels of Rocky's experience with his Pismo adapter spitting flame, and the people at another Apple Store telling us to pound sand (until we called Apple, who overnighted us a replacement). I was beginning to feel like Apple support could be fickle.

A few months later, though I was generally pretty careful whenever travelling with the PowerBook, two little hairlines appeared in the top bezel -- the lighter-colored frame surrounding the top plate in which the keyboard is set. I thought they were scratches in the paint, which I think was a reasonable assumption, since there were a bunch of those on the top and bottom of the case. Six months later, they both expanded into cracks rather suddenly. Since then, with the entire main frame of the case flexing a lot, the 'Book became pretty delicate. I was paranoid about the case shattering entirely, but not so much so that I could work up the energy to call AppleCare. Then, two Fridays ago, editing some photos, I picked up the laptop from the bottom, with the screen open. I guess I picked it up too fast for it to deal with. Maybe the frame flexed, putting pressure on the hinges. I'm not really sure what happened -- it was all pretty fast. Moments later, the screen was attached to the bottom half of the computer only by wires coming from the hinges. I was certain I'd picked up my old PowerBook 180 from the 90s much harder without the screen so much as budging.

We called Apple. The guy on the other end at first said that was abuse, and they wouldn't fix it. We bitched. He said he'd send out a box and we could ship the 'Book back, but the techs might still deem the damage abuse and refuse to fix it without charging us. We said fine. The box arrived a few days later, and the PowerBook went out late last week. And now it's back!

I'm very happy. It's hard to communicate how much I missed my fast little PowerBook, with its beautiful, bright screen, and its wireless networking. I'm very happy to have it back, and very happy Apple made good on my pricey extended warranty. And I'm thrilled that they saved me the trouble of taking the power adapter in to an Apple Store in a couple weeks when it would have died. Yay!
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