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Do not buy an Apple computer if you live in China!

One week ago my Apple Powerbook became incredibly slow, so I took it to the Apple store for a check-up. They told me it was a hardware problem and they only do software. So I went to the hardware center where they checked everything and then told me it is a software problem… Back to the store again where they would reinstall my operating system. This would take a few hours, but when I called them that evening they were still working on it and told me to come back on Friday. I came back around lunchtime, but they told me they were still not finished. This surprised me, but I decided to keep calm. On Saturday I picked up my laptop and I was told that the hard drive was broken and has to be replaced. This was very strange, because the computer was checked just two days ago and it did not show any problems with the hard drive.

So on Monday back to the Apple hardware center again – this is the only place that is closed in China over the weekend! It was my last day of warranty, so I was just in time. After some discussions they told me it would take about 2 weeks to get back my computer, because a new HD had to be ordered. This part is not available in China, I was told. Hard to believe, because they are produced here, but OK. Two hours later I get a call: Sir, your hard disk is damaged because of coffee, so there is no warranty. Excuse me? Coffee on my HD? I am 100% sure that I never ever spilled coffee on it. I told them this, but they said there was coffee inside the case! Suddenly I started to suspect the Apple store. The HD was working fine when I entered, then it took them two days to install the OS, and suddenly the hard disk fails completely. Maybe there was another reason it took so long? Problem is, I cannot prove it.

But that’s not all. Shortly after that I get another call: Sir, the HD is not the original HD, you replaced it with another one. Well, I may know a little bit about computers, but certainly not enough to start opening my laptop and replacing a HD. Because the computer has never been repaired before it must probably have happened when I bought it in Hong Kong last year. I won’t say the store’s name (yet), because everybody is innocent until proven guilty, but it is a store that claims to be Apple’s worldwide best store about 5 years ago.

So I call the store, and finally get through to someone who is able to understand my problem. This person says he will look into it and call me back. Of course he did not call back, so I call him the next day. He is not in (I was actually told by his colleague that he was sitting on the toilet!) but would call me back right away. After one hour still no call, so I call him again and manage to get him on the phone. No apologies about not calling back, but only the remark that ‘your Powerbook was custom-made, and in China they do not sell custom-made Powerbooks’. Well, that does not help me much, so I ask him to get in touch with Apple directly. He promises to do that and call me back. That was two days ago…

I am very angry at Apple’s service in China, it seems their presence is too small to have normal service centers and the service they provide is terrible. And I have the distinct impression that their store in Hong Kong has been cheating me – at least they give the impression by not calling me back. Not sure what to do now, but I won’t leave it at this. I bought an expensive top-of-the-line 12” Powerbook a year ago, and am not going to accept lame excuses.

One thing is for sure already: if I don’t hear from Apple this week I am going to make the switch back to a new Windows laptop, at least they provide normal service in Shanghai. My computer is an essential part of my business, and I cannot afford to be without it for so long. I am using an old Sony Vaio laptop now, and that is not an optimal solution. To be continued…

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  1. Thanks – I did not hear anything from them so it’s time for a Windows laptop.

  2. How is the powerbook these days?

    I’m heading to Ningbo in a few weeks, to stay for a year or more on assignment. I’d like to buy a new macbook before the contract begins. I’ve considered buying a windows pc.

    All other mac vs. windows debate aside, how has your lousy service experience impacted your use of apple computers in China?

    Are you still using the Sony? Or have you purchased a new mac (or hard drive, as it were)?

  3. @ Anonymous: I replaced my HD in the end, and the Apple has been working fine ever since. I did buy a new Windows laptop (a BenQ), but the quality was lousy and I gave it to a friend. I am now using desktop PC’s at home and in the office, and still use the Powerbook for email.

    My advice to you would be to buy a Windows laptop if you go to Ningbo. If your Apple breaks down you likely won’t be able to get it repaired there (so you will have to drive to Shanghai). And don’t expect good service for Apple, but I guess you already got that message.