February 11, 2007

Mac vs. PC

"As a Mac user, I wish Microsoft would run an Apple-like ad about the process by which Mac users get service for broken hardware. It would be really hard for Apple to respond, because their system for dealing with broken hardware is itself horribly broken. They need serious incentives to fix this." - Dave Winer

Just last week my team at Resurrection and I were joking about exactly this idea. (We support both PCs and Macs.) The Apple commercials are terribly funny, no doubt. But Apple would have you believe that their stuff never breaks. In our parody commercial, Mac would be broken and a poor, hapless user would be striken by the question, "How do I fix this thing?" PC would answer, "I don't know." Then the user would ask, "Who DOES know?" Followed by nothing but dead silence.

When PC is broken, we call our friendly Dell service person, who comes out a day or two later and fixes it. It's painless and nearly effortless. When Mac is broken, we are faced with a small number of bad options, all of which will cost us a lot more time and brain damage than calling Dell. Surely Dave Winer and us aren't the only ones who have faced this issue. Does Apple care?

22 comments:

Brian Slezak said...

That is GREAT! We were just having a bunch of fun with that on Friday.

They could do one on trying to get an answer to licensing questions of Apple software too, not that Microsoft is any better of course.

They could have the mac guy calling multiple vendors and 3 different numbers to Apple, not getting a real person most of the time. When they get someone, they don't know how to answer the question and suggest calling yet another number. You can tell I've never had to deal with that can't you? :)

Anonymous said...

Is there such a thing as a local Dell guy??? I thought that your Dell guy was in Bangalore or new Dehli.

gdanmitchell said...

Hey, did you purchase Apple Care when you got the Macs? We purchase that for our Macs and we purchase extended service contracts for our Dells and things go relatively smoothly.

Dan

bad ass computer user said...

Please. You just try to inflame. Your premise does nothing for really addressing an issue, or trying to make it a real issue. All computers will break, both mac and dell... So, lets not digress about Dells are much poorly built and break more. If you dont like your mac -- then stop moaning. If you do like your mac -- then you need to buy Apple Care within the first year of ownership -- and you will have the exact same dell equivalent show up at your door within a day or two and fix it. Or -- take it to the Apple Store, and they will fix it. The apple store has some problems they need to streamline for sure. Or, take it to an apple specialist company, and they will do a faster job. Meanwhile -- the mac is easier to fix for the average person, and that is the truth. The real basic issue with mac vs. pc -- is that with a PC, you are crippled with the virus and security problems, and your computer is not cripled at birth when you have a mac.

Timothy Post said...

When your Apple laptop "breaks" just and needs to be sent for service, just ask the manager at the Apple store if they have any returned laptops. If they do, you can "purchase" the returned unit as a loaner while your laptop is being serviced. Use migration assistaqnt to copy your harddrive onto the loaner laptop. When your laptop is fixed, return the loaner for a full refund (no restocking charge). Works great for me.

Anonymous said...

Just take it to the Apple Store. What is so hard about that?

Or better yet, take it to a *local* Apple service dealer rather than the Apple store (if you have one in your town anyway). You have to make an appointment to see a "genius" at the Apple Store, but at the local dealer, I can get in, drop it off at the service counter and get out in about 5 minutes. Usually 2 days later they call and say it's done (whereas Apple may take over a week).

Honestly, imho Dave Winer and his MacBook saga could have been dealt with in 30 minutes if he'd bothered to read Macintouch to see how people were dealing with it there. I know he wasted at least that much time posting about it over the course of a month (and ignoring a lot of advice in the comments on his posts). Now if he'd lived in an area without an Apple Store or Mac dealer within easy reach I'd be more sympathetic, but he's in SF!

ryan said...

I agree Apple has serious failings in customer service and am glad someone is raising awareness.

But those Get a Mac ads are targeted at consumers, who don't get the same treatment from Dell as you. As someone else pointed out, they end up in phone hold hell to India.

The Net is littered with the sagas of consumers who bought gold-plated consumer service agreements from Dell, including supposed in-home help, and still ended up caught for weeks or months in bureaucratic limbo.

Apple is screwed up, too, but as a consumer I'd rather have the option of being physically in front of a service rep, with a fighting chance and exerting the social pressures that physical presence brings with it, rather than the indescribable frustration of being bounced around on the phone with to various callous people on the other side of the world.

ryan said...

PS to the guy who mentioned AppleCare, that just keeps you eligible for Apple service longer, it doesn't improve said service.

If you want to ease the logjam at Apple stores, AppleCare isn't enough, it doesn't get you anything special, you have to bribe Apple by paying $100 per year for "ProCare," so you can supposedly go to the front of the line at Apple stores, and so you can make a real appointment, not a "same day" appointment.

And since Apple is supposedly trying to sell ProCare to 30 percent of consumers, and since the store troubles are caused by chaos in triaging customers, it is unlikely even your ProCare will help you much!

Clif Guy said...

Wow, seems I've touched a nerve here. Let me explain our specific situation.

I'm the director of a small IT shop with four full-time technical people plus part time people and contractors. Not counting servers we have approximately 220 Dells and 20 Macs that we're responsible to support.

We're not anti-Mac or anti-Apple, otherwise why would we have bought those 20 Macs for our users? My post was not intended to argue whether Dell or Apple is better. We buy both. We are a good customer of both companies.

I was simply explaining that, contrary to the funny Apple ads, Macs do break from time-to-time. It's our job to take care of the Mac users when that happens. Like most IT departments, we do as much as we can to address the issue internally and then, if necessary, we escalate to the vendor. Strictly from that limited perspective (I realize there are differences in how businesses and consumers are handled), we find Dell support much easier to utilize. It's less expensive, faster, and way more convenient than Apple's support, with or without Apple Care.

With Dell, we put in a ticket and they dispatch a tech who shows up at our office 1-2 days later. When the tech completes his work, our Dell is running again and the user is back in business.

Any option that requires me to get in my car and take the machine somewhere isn't a good option. Any option that requires me to be without my machine for a few days isn't a good option. Any option that requires me to pay extra to get in front of the line isn't a good option. Am I making sense?

Anonymous said...

In the few times I've had a Mac go down, I've had excellent results from Apple. For example, the hard drive in my PowerMac G4 died... called them up, diagnosed the issue with a technician.. they sent me a box overnight, I shipped my mac... and received back my Mac with a new drive within 48 hours. I call that pretty damn good.

zdw said...

I'm a freelance Mac consultant, and while AppleCare tends to have stricter policies concerning repairs and replacements of computers than say Dell, it's much easier to get them on the phone.

Recently I needed to get a copy of the installation discs for both a Mac and a Dell (well, the Apple Hardware Test disk for that specific Mac model, but I digress). For the Mac, I was on the phone with AppleCare for 8 minutes, most of which was consumed by giving out billing information to cover shipping. For Dell... well... I went through 6 levels of voice menus, was transfered twice, then got sent to "out of warranty" service with some guy in who knows where who ended up shipping me the wrong thing (the "applications disk" instead of XP Home), for a total of 43 minutes.

All of that said, there are great resources out there for Mac support - you just have to look for them. For the lay person, Apple support is better. In a situation where you have other support options (IT Department in a company, for example) it really depends on their experience.

Anonymous said...

You obviously haven't called Dell lately.

Anonymous said...

Dell offers at Home service for PCs but few people spring for it.

Manuka said...

In response to the comment from "anonymous", Yes, there is such a thing as a local Dell guy. Dell has a handful of vendors it contracts with for onsite service. These folks are the ones who actually swap out the parts. Troubleshooting is done via phone with Dell support, and having a Gold support contract with Dell means that you get a US-based tech (sometimes you might get one in Canada, but most of them are in Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama)

Nicholas said...

Yep, I don't get the same service as a large business purchasing by the dozen. When my Dell Inspiron drive bit the dust after two months, I had to wait a week for a replacement... After they received mine!

The Apple store is much closer, and after a several dozen Mac laptops going back the the lovely 2400, I have yet to have anything besides a DVD drive die. Also, as a reader of Dave's, I have to admit it gets painful watching him tread water waiting for a response at Scripting News. The San Francisco Apple Store is right off the BART. I don't leave 'til my problem is solved.

Gil said...

I can't believe this thread. What planet are you all on?

I've owned various Macs and PCs for more than 20 years. Apple's service has been consistently good, often excellent. Issues have usually been handled over the phone -- yes, by real people; I have no idea why some of you say you can't get real people. When hardware issue, I get a box from them the next day, and the repair generally returned within a day or two after that. (As I recall, Apple offered this service before Dell even existed.)

I have found there service a bit less crisp with the growth of the last couple of years, but don't get me started on my unhappy experiences with Dell.

(ProCare? Yeah, that's a kind of rude tax to get to the head of the line.)

tblanchard said...

I don't know about other Apple products - but their laptop services is GREAT.

Their laptop designs are pretty, but fragile. When something goes wrong, I call the 800 support line, they confirm the problem and if they dont' fix it on the phone they arrange for shiping.

I get an express shipping box next (sometimes same) day. Pack it up, call for pickup - it typically returns in 5 days or less. Very low hassle. Outstanding response time.

I don't live near a store - but when I've visited one - the genius bar is really great. So I don't know what the complaints are about - I can't say I've got any other electronics with that level of support.

Anonymous said...

I'm a member of the Apple Consultants Network and keep a spare computer on hand as a loaner for my customers. If they have a problem, I bring the spare over which they can keep until their unit is repaired. It's part of the service I offer.

Have you looked into the Apple Consultants Network? I know a number of other consultants and we all offer similar services to our clients.

Anonymous said...

As a PC and Mac user, I'm afraid I don't have much good to say about Apple customer care.

Both times I've taken an Apple product under warranty in to the store, the CSR finds some virtually inperceptable blemish on the outside of the device and declares that 'I must have dropped it', and that the damage was my fault, therefore not Apple's problem. In both cases, the CSR was very nice about explaining this, there was nothing that could be done, etc.

I DIDN'T drop either product (1 ipod with a HD failure and 1 laptop with a bad DVD drive) and it makes me feel like an idiot to have bought an extended warranty that is worth exactly NOTHING unless I keep my devices in a hermetically sealed bag and never use them for fear of getting a scratch that instantly voids all warranties.

For a company that uses the tag line 'it just works', when it doesn't work - how about 'just fix it'. Don't bother with Applecare- unless you have something really expensive like a logic board go out, it's often cheaper to pay for a third party to repair rather than to fork out the cash at the outset like a tool.

Anonymous said...

I have owned Dells for years and am used to them, I know how to get them fixed and have things replaced when Dell makes mistakes - it has worked well and I often end up with better equipment when they replace defective equipment.

So I order my first mac book pro (my wife has a macbook) on 28 Dec - I bought refurbished with high res screen and 7200rpm drive - it arrives by ground a week later but with a 5200 rpm drive. I call on a Friday to have it fixed or replaced - It takes apple 12 hours to send me a return air bill!!! Dell takes seconds....

The dispatch of the replacement is delayed until Monday - Monday I call and provide the FedEx tracking number after droping the mislabeled machine at a FedEx Kinkos (That was another long issue, incorrect closing times led me to an hour of driving around to locations that were stated as open, but closed) I call again to provide the tracking number and the rep - Anthony - promptly releases my replacement.

The replacement arrives on Tuesday - the drive is correct, but the case is warped - you type and the thing wobbles becuse all four feet don't touch the table at once...

I call, apple says this time they will send a new one... and instantly send me a return label (they said it wasn't possible on Friday!!!) - I return it to Fedex...

The replacement shows pending my action (apple is not aware Fedex posseses the return laptop) (((Contrast this to Dell's immediate ship polcy an option to charge your credit card for items you don't return - more of an honor system vs Apples possession first replacement second - no trust with security of a credit card??)

The second replacement (the new machine) was not configured correctly skipping not only the hard drive speed but the high res glossy display option - they were about to stiff me with a 3rd incorrect machine, but I CAUGHT THE ERROR!!!!

One call quickly corrected this - the 2nd call though about releasing the replacement was much harder...

I call apple late in the day and spend 37 minutes with a guy who has me convinced apple should merge their ad campaign with Budweiser - Dude...

He repeats call center log notes to me from the last week, never getting to the part where he sees my tracking information and releases my shipment - he says "there is nothing I can do for you" He can't decipher Fedex Tracking information where the pickup location is my home city an presumes "maybe dude, this is your replacement, I can't say for sure" - but that order is still pending. He spends tens of minutes discussing totally irrelevant stuff about my call history and not even aware he has the power to release my new machine for shipment since I have returned the old one...

Apple's may break less, but their service sucks - they don't admit their mistakes, and no one in the organization has power to fix mistakes - everyone has their automated role... there is no such thing as escalation, or good will toward customers who are victims of apple mistakes.

From my view I don't see being able to rely on Apple to provide business class support unless I could have a 10% reduncancy (1 for every 10 machines sitting idle ready fill in when something breaks) becuase apple does not have nimble detail oriented support.

The buying experience has been an utter nightmare...

Anonymous said...

One more thing - an apple store might be a nice option if I lived in one of the major metropolitain areas - there are thousands of locations in the US more than 500 miles from the nearest apple store...

XP repair said...

To get the support for your machine whatever brand it is, you must go through proper channel to get the best results. Rest of all depends on the quality of support services of various brands.