Update - Macbook Pro Versus Coffee

Posted by Aaron West at 11:50 AM in Personal, Mac

It's been several days since my Macbook Pro had coffee spilled on it and I still don't know how bad the damage is. I opened a service ticket with Mac Authority on Tuesday (January 6) and dropped off my laptop on Thursday evening.

I called Mac Authority Friday afternoon and the service guy (Tony) said there were 16 machines in front of me in the queue. He mentioned something about this being the busiest time they've ever seen in the service department. I asked him how long he thought it'd take to churn threw the queue and he said they might be able to get to my machine by Friday afternoon or evening.

Late Saturday afternoon I called back and they still haven't gotten to my machine. The service guy estimated it would be Monday or Tuesday before it could be looked at. By then, it will have been a full week since the incident and service check-in. When I first called last Tuesday one of the service technician's (Brian) recommended I check in over the phone as this would put my machine in the queue. He estimated it would take 3-4 before they would be able to look at it. At this point, I'm guessing I didn't actually get into the queue on Tuesday but on Thursday when I dropped off the machine.

I'm going to call them back mid-day tomorrow to get the latest on scheduling. I'm pretty disappointed they haven't looked at it yet and will probably use the Green Hills Apple Store for my next service need. I can just sense the coffee drying and staining all the machines nooks and cranies.

NOTE: Several folks have asked how the machine is doing. I will post all updates on this issue right here in this post.

Monday, January 12 Update
I just got off the phone with Mac Authority and there's good news and bad news. Fortunately, the good news (so far) outweighs the bad.

Good news
My laptop boots to the login screen and passes Disk Utility checks. Even though I had a Time Machine backup from just 3 days before the incident I was worried about the hard drive. My wife and I took our son to the Discover Center in Murfreesboro, TN and took 60+ pics of him playing and interacting with the exhibits. Those photos had been imported to Lightroom and removed from my Nikon S610c, but not backed up.

Bad news
The keyboard is definitely toast. Replacement cost is $82.99 plus an hour of labor. I pretty much expected this. But worse, the display is working but is dim. I haven't seen just how dim but it must be dim enough that it needs to be fixed. The tech is hoping the issue is in the LED driver but they won't know until they put in a new LED driver and test. They didn't have this part in stock so they've ordered one and they're hoping it comes in tomorrow. The cost for the LED driver is $55.99 plus the time it takes to install it. Total cost would be $281.48 for a new keyboard, LED driver, and labor for each. If the LED driver doesn't fix the display the only other solution is a brand new one to the tune of $500 minimum. I'm crossing my fingers, you should too.

Tuesday, January 13 Update
I spoke with a service person today but wasn't able to talk Ryan, the guy doing the work on my laptop. Yesterday Ryan thought the display problem was the LED Driver and he wanted to confirm this by replacing the part with a new one. That part did not come in today but through further research, Ryan's notes indicate (as read by the service rep) he thinks the I/O logic board may be ruined. Ryan is going to test with a new logic board tomorrow (if it arrives) to be sure. The service left was going to leave a note on Ryan's desk to call me in the morning.

Wednesday, January 14 Update
As of 11:46am I have not heard from Ryan.

It's 4:34pm and I just got off the phone with Mac Authority. Dear God. I wish they'd get their heads out of their you-know-what. I was told yesterday that the service tech thought the problem was an I/O board and that the board was ordered and supposed to be in this morning. If the part arrived the tech was going to install it to see if it fixed the problem. Either way (part arriving or not) I was told the tech would call me in the morning. Fail, he never called. Talking with the service rep, Mac Authority has not ordered the I/O board because they have been waiting for me to approve the order. What? So, number one, I was told wrong yesterday that the part was on order. Second, no one thought to take five minutes to pick up the phone and call for the approval.

At this point, this entire day has been a waste and they've made zero progress. Furthermore, in trying to talk to the tech twice (last night and just now) I was told he was "busy." So what. If a customer is trying to get a hold of you for over 24 hours you oughta stop what you're doing and get on the freaking phone. Fail.

I doubt I will use Mac Authority for any future service work.

Adam called me back and said the I/O board is in. That's awesome, but it also means everything I was told on the last call was a bunch of BS. I was told parts are not ordered without customer approval. Ok, so the part was ordered without my approval. I was told the part wasn't in (obviously, if it wasn't ordered) but it actually is. I really have no idea how this stuff happens. Is the computer reporting wrong information? Is someone being careless or too fast or just not taking the time? Sigh. Adam said he's going to put in the I/O board and see if that does the trick. He said he'd give me a call once he knew something and I mentioned I'd be here all night. We'll see what happens.

After posting some messages on Twitter I received a call from Matt. He apologized for all the mess and delays I've had to deal with and said my service ticket had been escalated to him. He promised to stay late working on my machine and said he'd call back once he had more info.

My wife and I were installing a new kitchen faucet when Matt called back. He was not the bearer of good news. He installed a brand new left I/O board from Apple and my laptop simply wouldn't work. Since the original left I/O board wasn't working and the new one didn't help Matt concluded the main logic board was bad. Super bad. It would cost around $1200 to replace this part alone, plus the cost of the new keyboard. I told Matt I had to get back to the kitchen faucet.

Thursday, January 15 Update
Matt just called with good news. He decided to try a second new left I/O board and so far my laptop seems to be running okay (it's been up for 1 hour). Matt seems to think the I/O logic board from Apple was bad. He's going to move forward with the keyboard replacement and perform some more diagnostics on the hard drive and hopes to have it ready for me later today. The one caveat to this good news is the cost. If the problem were the keyboard and LED driver I was going to have to pay $281 and change. I believe the left I/O board replacement is going to push the damage closer to $500.

Just received a direct message on Twitter from Mac Authority. The cost breakdown is $314.48 plus taxes (but Matt's going to try and get it down to under $300). $82.99 for a new keyboard, $88.99 for a new left I/O board, and $142.50 in labor. That's pretty good and is certainly well received news. So long as I don't have to deal with a bunch of residual issues down the road I'll be happy. I'd like to at least get another 11 months out of this machine (2 years of ownership) before buying a new machine.

I've received several Twitter messages from @macauthority in the past three hours. Matt has been doing a final cleaning under the keyboard, installing the keyboard, and installing the new left I/O board. He mentioned the optical drive being tight but that it works just fine. It's now ready for pickup so I'm heading out the door. Matt was able to keep the repairs to just under $300 and I'm very happy about that!

Friday, January 16 Update
I've now had my Macbook Pro back for 20 hours and have had a chance to put it through some work. So far so good. Everything was exactly as I had left it before the spill. The only odd things I've seen so far were my home wireless password had to be entered again (though the hidden SSID was recognized) and my Verizon wireless card isn't working because the password (which is stored on the device) isn't listed in network preferences. I have noticed is the left USB port doesn't quite line up right with the casing. I guess the left I/O board wasn't aligned exactly perfect which has left the bottom of the port a little higher than the port opening. It's difficult to insert a USB device into the port but it does work if I give it a little time.

I've been able to sync my computer with MobileMe and Spanning Sync as well as sync up my iPhone with iTunes. All the work I've been doing over the past week (on my work laptop) has been copied to the appropriate locations on my refreshed Macbook Pro. I jumped into my Time Machine history and was able to still see everything correctly indicating my laptop is still seeing my Time Capsule properly (I have had problems with this in the past). I've been able to run several different backups to my Time Capsule as well.

In the end I'm still pretty upset with the way Mac Authority handled my issue. Communication was seriously lacking and service techs/reps obviously did not have proper info and were communicating things that weren't verified. That is very very frustrating. Things did turn around once Matt D. began to handle the problem. He was very diligent about communicating with me both over the phone and Twitter. He also gave me his personal cell phone number though I didn't use it. So Matt, if you're reading this, thanks a ton for the hard work. I encourage you to permeate your own customer service habits to the rest of Mac Authority. Until everyone makes a personal commitment to "own" every issue as if it were their own problem I don't think your service will get any better, which ultimately means neither will your business.

Aaron West's Gravatar
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This entry was posted by Aaron West on January 11, 2009 at 11:50 AM. It was filed in the following categories: Personal, Mac. It has been viewed 7388 times and has 8 comments.

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8 Responses to Update - Macbook Pro Versus Coffee

  1. I would say that at this point the coffee is as dry as it's going to get, and it won't be getting into any more nooks and crannies. Sucks that they haven't looked at it yet though. FYI, almost all of my other Mac friends recommend the Apple store rather than Mac Auth. I've just heard lots of bad things about MA and few good ones.

  2. Scott Dowling

    I hope it's just the LED driver, and not something else. Would hate for anyone to have to pay that kind of money to fix something.

  3. I had same kind of service issues with Apple store. My MBP was too hot and just send ti to check. The service guy said that it would take 1-3 days, but I got my MBP 17 days later.

    They blamed the memory which was an approved Kingston Apple memory and all memory test was ok. They just replaced the memory with theirs and send it back as fixed. Luckily they also sent my old memories together and I just tried with Kinston ram and there were no problem. I assume that they fixed something else and instead of letting me know, they just replaced memory blocks. It was and it is still a real question for me.

    In short, I am very disappointed with Mac Store service.

    Thanks god that we have Samsung notebooks now in US and my next NB will be a Samsung.

  4. Scott Dowling

    With all that aside, do you have heat now?

  5. @Scott - Yes!!! As of 2:00pm yesterday our new A/C and heat pump unit was installed and operational. Thanks for asking!

  6. But what about the new kitchen faucet? Is it working too? :)

  7. @Matt
    Yea, the new kitchen faucet is working great!! As you may have guessed I'm not a very handy fix-it-myself kind of guy. I was a bit scared to do the work by myself but with my wifes help we got it done, and done right. We're loving the new Delta!

    In one week, we've had a new HVAC system installed, installed a new faucet, and I got my Macbook Pro back. The week started off bad, but things have come together nicely.

  8. Dino

    I'm not surprised about the problems you've had with MacAuthority. I'm so disgusted, that I set up an anti-MacAuthority Facebook group.

    The only reason why I had to deal with them is because I made the mistake of getting a Service Net warranty, which limits liability to the purchase price of the computer (in this case, around $2000 for a PowerBook G4 1.67Ghz).

    I had a logic board problem with the PowerBook about a year and a half after it was purchased. MacAuthority "fixed" the problem, but when I received the computer, one of the USB ports wasn't working, so it was sent back. After "fixing" the problem a second time, they sent the computer back without a working modem. So it was sent back again. This time it was really "fixed".

    Almost a year later, the VRAM goes bad and I need a new logic board. It turns out that almost all of the money on the warranty was used up. It turns out that MacAuthority was charging Service Net $141 for shipping plus repair costs EACH TIME the computer was shipped back. The logic board repair was $1000 + $141. The 2nd and 3rd "repairs" were around $40 + $141 EACH.

    This latest time, they wanted another $1000 to replace the logic board. Service Net wasn't going to pay that, so guess what... MacAuthority was going to keep the computer, hard drive and all. I had to fight Service Net and MacAuthority to get the computer back.

    I'll repair it myself for less than $450, which is the amount remaining on the warranty.

    Lesson learned: Stay away from Service Net if you're buying a Mac, because they apparently use MacAuthority for all their repairs. And stay away from MacAuthrity. Period.