You Get What You Pay For – Apple Customer Service

Once again, I have to admit that purchasing my (overpriced according to the haters) Apple MacBook and iPod touch.  Sure there were cheaper alternatives out there but, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.  Case in point, my most recent “issue” regarding connecting my MacBook to the touch for internet sharing.  All was working fine.  I’d connect my MacBook to the internet via an ethernet cable and then, simply share the connection via the AirPort wireless hardware.  This basically turns my MacBook into a WiFi hotspot that only I know the password to.  Saturday morning was not the case though.

Following breakfast, I was trying to check some e-mails and stuff via the iPod touch, connected wirelessly to my MacBook.  OMG! FAIL!  I couldn’t connect to the internet from my iPod.  (Sidebar:  We’ll just call it the “iPod” for now and the MacBook will be known as “MB”.  OK?)  Where was I.  Oh, yeah…

Being a good little test engineer with computer, network and Apple experience, I started troubleshooting.  I rebooted the iPod and the MB, I reset the settings, I checked the various forums on the internet (which verified my actions as correct) and even powered the devices off and let them “rest” for a couple of minutes.  No dice.  I tried a few more things, more on a hunch than anything, but still no internet love for the iPod.  Frustrated, I took a deep cleansing breath and went to the apple support site to initiate a phone call for help.

The process was pretty straight forward.  I filled out their form detailing my tale of woe as best I could and then selected the option for an Apple Expert, to call me.  Within 3 minutes of clicking the “submit” button, my phone rang.  It was the computer menu telling me that if I wanted to speak to an Apple Expert, the wait would be less than five minutes.  Since that’s why I had Mr. Computer Menu Guy (I don’t think that’s his real name), call me in the 1st place, I pressed “1” and waited.  Two minutes later, “Craig” came on the line.

Following a brief restatement of the issue(s) and my troubleshooting efforts to date, Craig put me on hold for a couple of seconds.  By the way, Apple has some great “on hold” music.  Then he came back on the line and stated that we (did you catch that?) WE would try resetting the System Resource Controller (SRC) and “Zap the P-RAM”.  This involved:

  • Powering off the MB and disconnecting everything
  • Removing the MB battery (yep, mine is one of the last MBs that can do this)
  • Holding down the Power Button for 10 Seconds
  • Reassembling everything back so WE could Zap the P-RAM
  • Holding down the <Command>, <Option>, <P> and <R> keys WE also held down the power button and waited for three chimes from the MB.  It takes a bit of coordination to hold down those keys all at the same time.  For you Windows folks, it would be like holding down CMD, ALT, P & R.  Quite the finger spread.
  • On the third chime released all keys

With the SRC reset and the P-RAM Zapped, the computer booted up normally. I plugged everything back in, fired up internet sharing and PRESTO!  Everything worked!  My iPod was now happily connected and surfing the internet.  Craig was glad that WE had fixed the problem as was I.  If you don’t want to go into the technical stuff, skip the next paragraph.  I will keep it short as I can.

What is a SRC?  It’s basically the part of the MB that manages all the hardware inside.  Over time, the SRC can get corrupted due to opening and closing files, device requests, etc…  WE hypothesized that the SRC had become corrupted and wasn’t instructing the wireless card in the MB to put out enough power to broadcast and receive signals or that it wasn’t instructing the network interface hardware the share.  Resetting it essentially cleared all of its databases and forced it to rebuild them from scratch.  Zapping the P-RAM reset all the hardware to force it to make new requests and negotiations with the SRC.  So not only did we wipe the database, we told all the hardware to re-negotiate their entries w/o being asked.  I guess it could be similar to resetting the BIOS in a Windows box?  Whatever, it worked.  Back to my story.

I have had other electronic devices, software programs, cars, appliances, etc… from brands that were not considered “premium” or “boutique” as Apple is considered in the PC world.  However, I have never received such fantastic service.  I guess that’s another reason my Dad has a Cadillac.  When he needs service, they loan him another Cadillac that’s the same or better than his, wash/wax his car following service, and even offer drinks, snacks and WiFi in the waiting room.  Does is cost more than a Hyundai or Chevy?  Yep, sure does.  Even though both perform the same function, the more expensive of the two has better customer service.  I have always had great experience with Apple on any of their products.  While I don’t consider myself a “FanBoy”, I do, and always will recommend Apple products to whomever is willing to pay a bit more, but get what they pay for.


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