I’m going to try to avoid making this into a rant; I’m pretty irritated right now, though, so I apologize if some of that slips through.

Due to recent issues with a Macbook Pro, I (and my wife) will no longer be buying Apple products.  I used to advocate, gently, for Apple, but now I will agitate against them.  Mr. Cook, if you’re reading this: Apple’s NPS just went down by a small amount.  Given current Apple support policies, I doubt that you’re concerned about NPS, but there it is.

So here’s my story: I bought my first Macbook Pro, a 15”, a few years ago.  Out of the store, it had problems.  The CDROM sounded, to be honest, like the DVD-ROM on an early model XBox 360 – like a jet engine taking off.  I took it back the next day, and Apple gave me a new one; problem solved.  I didn’t worry about it too much, although I did wonder how this got through Apple’s quality assurance.  Over the next couple of years, I became quite fond of the platform, so much so that we bought my wife a Macbook Air, an iPod, and an iPhone.

After a while, the hard drive developed some bad sectors.  I worked around them for a while until the drive really started to degenerate, and by that time the Retina Macbooks were out; I was still loving OSX, and I like the slimmer form factor of the Retinas, so I chose to buy a new laptop instead of replacing the hard drive.  All was well and good for the next 14 months.  Note, carefully, that the Apple warranty is 12 months.  Queue ominous music.

So, up until recently, the Retina was rock-solid.  I almost never rebooted it.  It would stay up for, literally, months at a time, with simple suspends and resumes.  I loved it.

I’d turned off the nag-ware upgrade notices (BTW: super-annoying “feature,” there, Apple), and I’d go check every once in a while to see what was available.  I was running 10.8.4 and 10.8.6 was available, and I had some downtime, so I decided to take the upgrade.

It was not happy.

10.8.6 got 99% of the way done, and then stuck there for, literally, 18 hours.  I was ready to hard-restart it myself the next morning when I came in and saw that it had shut itself down – and it wouldn’t start up after that. I could get it to the grey screen by various combinations of sequences (Shift-Alt-Apple, etc), but most often, the screen would just stay black.  To make a long story short, I left it at the Apple store and they called in a couple of days to tell me that they’d fixed it, and indeed, it seemed to be working again.

It worked for two days, and then the problems started happening.  The screen would blank unexpectedly and refuse to come on.  The computer would be running – pressing the power button briefly would cause it to make the “bonk” sound – but all I could do was hard-power it down and reboot.  Sometimes it would come back up, and sometimes I’d have to mess around with the magic power-on keys (the aforementioned various Apple-key sequences) to get it to come back up.  It would only stay running for a couple of hours at most before crashing; sometimes it’d reboot by itself, sometimes the screen would just blank, and sometimes I wouldn’t be able to get it to come back on unless I let it sit overnight.

As soon as I had time (I live an hour away from the nearest Apple store), I took it back to them and explained, and demonstrated, the problem.  They took it back under their care, and this morning, I got a call from them telling me that I had to replace the main board to the tune of $310.

The tech tried to convince me that it was coincidental, or that the software [exposed]{.underline} problems with the hardware; while both of these are possible, it is far more probable that (a) Apple’s QA is incompetent, (b) Apple is using shit, cheap, low-quality hardware components, and/or (c) Apple’s software developers did a crap job and released buggy software.  I’ve been in the computer industry myself on the software side for twenty years, and I know that the first defense of software developers is to blame the hardware, and – surprise – Apple can charge for hardware failures; they can’t charge to fix bugs they introduce in their software.

Second, I didn’t buy the extended warranty.  It is my opinion that I shouldn’t have to buy an extended warranty for something like this.  This isn’t a hard drive, it’s not wear-and-tear – it’s the damned motherboard.

What this all boils down to is the fact is that if Apple’s hardware and QA is so crappy that they require multi-hundred-dollar repairs every year, then I do not want to do business with them.  I’m not spending two thousand dollars for a computer that breaks once a year; it’s unacceptable, and unheard of anywhere else in the industry.  If I want commodity, crap hardware, I can get it for far less than from Apple.

The summary is this: I bought a Mac 14 months ago for $2,300.  Due to a software update, heavily pushed through nag-ware by Apple, it is now a brick.  Apple now wants to charge me $310 to fix what they broke. Consequently, these are the last Apple products I will buy, and I will discourage the purchase of Apple products with anybody I speak with.  We’re all in this together, and I’m taking my responsibility to warn others about Apple very seriously.

Update 2013-12-06

That failed hard drive in the older Macbook 15”?  I took it in to get it replaced recently, to gift it to a family member; I was pleasantly surprised that it was only going to cost $160.  That was a fairly painless transaction, except when I got the “repaired” Macbook back home, the trackpad didn’t work.  It took me a few minutes to realize that there was a bulge under the right side of the pad which was distending it and causing the buttons to not function.  I thought this was due to an installation problem with the HD, so I took it back to the Apple store.  Surprisingly, they agreed to fix it without cost.  In the end, I was told that it wasn’t related to the HD installation, but that the battery was swelling.  After scaring me at pick-up by telling me that it was a $610 charge, they decided to do it for free, so that one didn’t end unhappily.  I wonder why the tech who replaced the hard drive didn’t notice a swollen battery that was distending an aluminum case?

Regardless, all this did was justify my skepticism about the quality of Apple components – this is the first laptop I’ve ever owned where the battery “swelled,” and frankly, it makes me very nervous.  I don’t want my crotch scorched some day by an exploding battery.