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Monday, January 3, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

A long, long time ago in October, the power cord for my laptop broke.  The laptop plug resides in the computer room, next to a very overloaded power transformer.  Near the power adapter are two rolling office chairs.  Occasionally the office chairs, while being pushed around by Kathleen or Sophia, rolled over the thin part of the cord.  Over time, the cord began failing and eventually it gave up the ghost entirely.

Without a power cord a laptop becomes a very expensive paperweight, and so I called Apple to make use of AppleCare.  The kind gentleman on the line, speaking a very pleasant Southern-accented English, said that he would be happy to mail me a new power adapter.

Then he asked me if I would be able to return the adapter through the APO system.  Yes, I told him, but the return trip usually takes about a month.  Well, that would be a problem, as Apple requires that the broken hardware be returned within 10 days to avoid being charged for the replacement.

What if I mailed the adapter to an address in the US, and had them complete the exchange?  I knew that that wouldn't work, as I would be without my laptop for six weeks at least.  Brandon and I had been a single-computer family for four years before we upgraded, but I've become spoiled and six weeks is a long time to be without my computer - and it has my Quicken files on it.

So he suggested I take the cord to an Apple authorized service provider in Egypt.  In fact, there was one in my neighborhood - New Maadi.  All I had to do was take the cord in, they would look up my records, and give me a new adapter.

I have lived in Egypt long enough to find out that locals have a very strange adherence to rules.  Most reasonable rules - driving within lines, driving on a specific side of the road, paying to get on the Metro trains, standing in lines - are completely ignored.  But strange, finicky book-rules are adhered to very strictly, to the exclusion of any common sense.  At the mall this week I found out that some doors are only for entering, not exiting.  Why?  Nobody can explain, but there's no way you're going to get out that door.

The computer and AppleCare plan are registered under Brandon's name, and so Brandon got to take the power cord to iSpot, the local Apple provider.  To his surprise, they looked up his information, confirmed that yes, he had AppleCare, and told him that they would call him when a replacement came in.  And not a piaster changed hands.

Meanwhile, some visitors came, and we were busy.  No phone calls came from iSpot, but that wasn't much of a surprise.  After our visitors left, Brandon called iSpot, figuring that a month would certainly be enough time to get something done.

Oh, they told him, iSpot only ships items to Apple twice a month, and the gentleman on the phone was unsure if our power adapter was in the lot shipped to Apple.  He would check on it and give us a call.  A few weeks went by.  Brandon called.  The computer wasn't working; call back in two days.  Another week.  They weren't sure where our records were; give them a day.

Finally he resorted to the only thing that gets anything in this country done: constant nagging.  One day they couldn't find the report, the next day they had to talk to Apple, and on the third day Apple had frozen all warranty cases in the Middle East.  And when would we know about our power adapter?  Who knows, insha'alla?

1 comment:

UnkaDave said...

Remember, Apple is an infidel company, and therefore is unworthy of assistance in The Arab Republic of Egypt. Or maybe the guy was trying to 'rip you off,' as the Americans put it.