how my 17" macbook pro has killed my apple fangirlness


It takes a lot for me to stop loving a brand that I'm really enamored of. But Apple has managed to do it to me with this lemon of a MacBook Pro that I'm toting around. Sure, I know, buying a first generation anything is risky. But it shouldn't be this much of a disaster.

I can live with the nuclear heat and resulting inability to put it on my lap without a pillow and a lapdesk shielding my legs.

I can live with the significant weight of lugging it around.

I can live with the less-than-state-of-the-art graphics, and the limited memory capacity (2GB max), and the loud fans.

I've even been managing to forgive the increasingly flaky wake-from-sleep behavior. (Sometimes it wakes, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it wakes, and after I log in the screen goes black. Sometimes it goes to sleep when I close it, sometimes it doesnt.)

But I simply cannot live with the completely unreliable wifi. It's been going on for a long time, and I first documented here in May. But it's gone from bad to worse. In the past two months I've had the following replaced:

  • Airport card
  • Logic board
  • DVD drive
  • Keyboard
  • Hard drive
  • OS

Did any of that work? Nope. If anything, it's worse now. I can't pick up a wifi signal in 90% of the locations on campus that everyone else can use--including my office, my classrooms, and the conference rooms. And the last straw is that now I can't even get a consistent connection at home, where it used to give me poor but serviceable reception. Now I can pick up the signal (two bars from 20 feet away from router), but although the signal doesn't drop, I lose my ability to talk to the network every 5-10 minutes. (This doesn't happen to any of the other computers in the house--a MacBook and three PCs--or when I'm connected via Ethernet.)

I'm at a loss as to what to do next. Our tech guys want me to send it back to our Apple-authorized tech person again, but what's she going to do? What's left to replace? The display, I guess, since that's where the antenna is. But I'm dubious about getting this machine to work properly, ever. And as I result, I'm pretty well over my 20+ year infatuation with Apple. Buy an iPhone? I think not. Replace this MacBook Pro with another one when I'm up for a new machine next year? Unlikely.

I'm blogging this less as a warning to others, and more as a probably useless attempt to get Apple to notice that they're slowly alienating some of their very best customers. But you know, I don't think they really care about that any more. Which just makes it worse. :(


You have my sympathies. I would have to say that after so many replacements and a continuing problem, that the only way Apple could redeem itself, here, is to give you a new computer. It's a small cost compared to the bad press that ripples out when an early adopter and tech promoter such as yourself finds a real flaw in a product, you'd think!

I feel your pain:

Maybe if we all band together and make a compilation of complaints, Apple might listen? If interested in brainstorming a way to do this, contact info is at the bottom of that article.


The real question is: Even if you don't intend to buy another Apple product, what do you do with your current computer.

My recommendation to spend $100 on...

It won't affect the portability of your computer and you'll end up with much stronger WiFi reception than if you computer's WiFi actually worked.


I used to work at one of the Apple Stores as an Asst. Mgr. This is what I recommend to you if the machine is still under warranty or covered under AppleCare:

If you live close to an Apple Store, make an appointment with the Genius Bar online and make sure you have all your documentation from previous repairs even if they were not performed by Apple directly (but from an Apple Authorized Service Provider). The Genius Bar will be able to track the repairs via the serial no. to verify that you've been having a lot of trouble.

Be calm and explain the issues to the Genius helping you. I know it may be difficult to keep cool, but he/she will be more likely to go the extra mile for you if you don't cause a scene. After a certain number of repairs within a short time frame, the Geniuses can deem a computer a lemon and replace it with a new one either from store stock (if it was standard configuration) or ordered from Apple (if you had a Build to Order).

Now, and this is for ALL readers here: Don't give them the line that you've been a Mac user for blah blah years and spent millions of dollars blah blah and you're so outraged and you'll never buy an Apple product and you'll sue blah blah. So what?

The Apple Stores try to treat everyone equally and fairly. I hated those obnoxious people when I worked at the stores because they thought they were better than everyone else, or gave that impression to other customers standing in line. If you're that kind of person, then I suggest YOU explain to everyone waiting ahead of you why your repair is more important than theirs. It only makes you look like an immature fool. If you get lynched, that's your problem.

It's just basic interpersonal communication: are YOU more likely to help someone because they asked nicely, or because they demanded it by belittling you in front of a crowd?

In my experience, Apple tends to be fair and take care of its customers. I wish you good luck resolving this issue.

I make it a policy to always be pleasant to people at a store or on the help line. It's not their fault that I'm having trouble with the computer. And I'm not looking for special treatment. I'm just sick and tired of having to send this computer out for repairs, and of getting it back not working any better than when it left. :(

In reading Halloween_Jack's comment, I see a couple of things worth noting. (I'm sure Liz is polite. :> ) One is that Liz may be a victim of the "managed care orphan" syndrome. She may have been helped by a variety of people who aren't fully engaged with her support history...or perhaps by the wrong person who isn't her full advocate. In either case, the last-ditch effort should be contacting the Apple Gods to say "nice college try, but now it's time to send me a new machine."


I'm sure you are sick and tired of having to send the computer back for repairs. Is this the first Mac you've owned that has given you this many problems? Have you owned previous Macs with terrible issues? Is this your first Mac?

If you've had previous Macs and you've had a good experience with them, then yes, there's something terribly wrong with this particular machine. Sometimes it takes Apple several tries for it to determine that a customer's machine is just a lemon. They will see that from the repair history.

My point is that the Apple Stores (being the front line outposts of Apple) are more likely to make the executive decision to replace your computer than someone over the phone at AppleCare (though it could happen) because they can actually see what's wrong with it when they take it in for observation.

I know it's a chore, but I'd give it another try and just go over with your technician the history of the problems and what was done to address them, concluding that there are still problems and frankly you don't know what else to do. Don't offer your own solutions or speculations, just give them the problem history.

If you're just fed up, maybe it's time to sell it for parts and buy yourself a replacement from whichever manufacturer you feel will provide the best customer support.

I have owned Macs since 1984 (starting with a 128K). Quoting from a post I wrote in July, "I've owned a Mac SE, a Quadra, a Powerbook 170, a Newton (yes, a Newton!), a PowerBook 540c, an iMac, a PowerBook G3, a 17" PowerBook G4, and I currently have a 17" MacBook Pro. I owned a first generation iPod, too."

And no, I've _never_ had trouble like this with any of my other Macs. An occasional repair, sure. That's to be expected. But core problem like this that hasn't been fixed by any of the replacements already done, not to mention a core temperature so high that it's actually uncomfortable to type on the keyboard. /sigh

The problem with taking it to the store is that because it's a university-owned computer, I'm required to go through our tech department, and they choose to use a local Apple-authorized technician. That also means I don't have the option of "selling it for parts".

Liz -

Thanks for sharing your insight and your frustration. You're doing everything you can and I know how hard it is to have to follow the university path of repair claims. Hopefully Apple will see this. I definintely agree that it's time to just provide you with a free replacement - and hopefully the newer iteration won't repeat the same problems. Given that you are an atypical user who knows how to fix 99% of her problems, it really is too bad you had to deal with this constant frustration - esp. with a technology tool that is integral to your work and your life. Let us know if Apple gets it resolved to your satisfaction. I've been thinking of buying a new MacBook but will certainly wait awhile now.

That is a lot to have replaced -- and the wireless being that faulty is not cool. I hear ya on being able to live with the battery heating quickly, loud fan and even the tendency of the OS to lag every once in a great while, but wireless going on and off that often isn't something people can afford when time is of the essence.

I also feel like Apple is caring less about its most loyal customers and more about who they can convert. A company should put the time in for its disciples because if an issue comes up with the products, the disciples are the most forgiving.

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on October 10, 2007 3:37 PM.

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