Almost two months ago, electricity surged through my building and killed my iMac. At least that is what I thought had happened. I don’t actually know what happened. I had three other laptops on, plugged into the same surge suppressor, hard-drives plugged in all over, and none of them experienced any problems. However, in searching forums online, I found numerous people reporting similar or close enough for me to figure something serious was up. Bottom line, my computer that had never given me trouble previously, suddenly went AWOL. And has remained decidedly so ever since.

IMac 24I must start at the beginning, for those of you who have not been following my reported travails in this situation through my Facebook and Twitter posts over the last couple of months.

Almost two months ago, electricity surged through my building and killed my iMac. At least that is what I thought had happened. I don’t actually know what happened. I had three other laptops on, plugged into the same surge suppressor, hard-drives plugged in all over, and none of them experienced any problems. I have had problems in the past with hard-drives and have often been advised by friends to try out the services of companies like DriveSavers who offer data recovery for various devices.

However, in searching forums online, I found numerous people reporting similar or close enough for me to figure something serious was up. Bottom line, my computer that had never given me trouble previously, suddenly went AWOL. And has remained decidedly so ever since.

I boxed it up the next day, and had to endure the humiliation of having my mother pay to send it back to California, where my dear friend took it into Apple for repair or replacement. Times like this make me wish I lived in Australia, there’s companies over there that’ll come to you to do your Apple Mac repairs, and when you read this whole story you’ll understand why that would be so helpful.

By the time it got there–admittedly a while after I sent it–it was out of warrantee. When I sent it, it was under warranty, but by the time Apple saw it, it was out of warranty. That aside, Apple agreed to honour the warranty, because when it arrived in California, my friend was travelling and it could not be brought in time. It was only a week or so out of warranty in any case. Nothing to scream about, they’re known to help people out like me. If it wasn’t for the generosity of them I would have had to have the iMac sent to somewhere else in California such as Longmont Mac Repair, a third-party repair service, it probably would have been cheaper to repair too.

Apple opted not to replace it, but instead ordered a new logic board with the integrated upgraded NVidia GeForce card I ordered with the machine, a new power management unit and a new screen.

They boxed it up, my friend collected it and sent it back to me.

By this time, it had been gone for almost six weeks.

My finances were decimated by this. I needed the machine to work to capacity, and neither of the two laptops here are more than web browsing machines, and only one of them really useful. None can power the tool kit that I use to do what it is I do every day.

I lost both my main contracts, had to turn down a couple projects because I knew I couldn’t do them justice, and basically by this point, when it got back from California, I was dead broke and living off of the charity of friends and my family.

Did I mention I had to pay almost $1000BDS to get it to and from California? Adding to the state I was in?

Let me describe it to you. I’ve been going hungry so my child could eat. We went without enough food for weeks while this machine was being repaired. My electricity was on the verge of being disconnected, my Internet access WAS disconnected, and my landlord had to wait weeks for me to collect enough small amounts to pay my rent. My mother and 89 year old grandmother paid my son’s school fees so I could keep him in school, and well I cried a lot at my own wretchedness.

I am crying as I type this, because this story is so not over.

So four Wednesdays ago, my computer gets back from California, and thankful to all I consider holy, I eagerly unpacked it, ready to climb my way out of my situation the way I always do, with hard, hard, hard, hard work.

I booted up, and my computer began to behave erratically. Blue screen of death, grey screen hangs, black outs, weird vertical lines. I fought with it for days, tried every trick in my arsenal, combed every useful forum I knew looking for ways to solve what was going on.

In the end I admitted defeat, called Apple and burned up some SkypeOut minutes, they walked me through everything they could think of, and yet it still did not work. I followed up on a lead, and called in the best Apple Support guy on the island, who walked me through some stuff, suggested I swap the RAM.

In this experience, I can only say that my faith and the unbelievable kindness that I am a beneficiary of on a regular enough basis to tell you I know that I am a charmed child, despite the horrors of this story.

A friend of mine, BOUGHT me new memory, since I didn’t have a crumb, and by this time was surviving on what my mother could siphon from her larder, and I had been going days without eating more than crackers.

He brought them for me, I installed them, and it improved the performance but did not solve the problem.

The Apple Support guy came out, re-installed the OS from scratch, and while he was beginning to work with the machine, the weird glitches and ticks continued.

He declared this a hardware problem, and that there was nothing more he could do for me.

After calling up Apple again, they said the repair had a 90-day warranty, and the parts a one-year warranty, so if I could just find the money (out of my ass right) to get it the closest Apple Repair Centre, they would fix it.

It took me almost a week to scrape enough money together to send it to F1 Connect in Trinidad. Off it went. And there it’s been up to the point i am typing this.

The did all kind of diagnostics and that alone took a few days, and they declared it to be a fault in the logic board. That was TWO Fridays ago.

Last week was a two day week, as there were three public holidays, but the replacement logic board was ordered last Wednesday. It arrived yesterday, was installed yesterday, and guess what?

My machine is still behaving strangely, the screen is now apparently showing dark and they’ve ordered a new one. They’re also testing it again to see if the problem is rectified, but the guy said it’s the worst machine his shop has ever seen, and there is no rhyme or reason to these issues.

So, wait! WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT, WAIT a minute!

Right now as I type this, more parts have gone into this computer than what it was orginally worth, and for the last two months my child and I have been struggling to survive while all this has been going on, and they STILL don’t have a clue what’s going on with it.

The thing that bothers me the most, is the Apple Store in California. How could they gut out this machine and pretty much replace every component of any value in it, and not even check to see that it was WORKING properly before they sent it back? Does that make sense to you?

I feel a level of hysteria that it is only the sheer force of my considerable will is battling down.

Not because this has been inconvenient. It has certainly been that, but I am still in that hard place. Struggling to keep my child fed and in school and the roof over our heads, and my ability to do that is entirely bound up with the iMac now in Trinidad.

I feel completely powerless, and I don’t know who to reach out to to ask for help. I need to work. I don’t want a hand out, I just want to work. I need my computer to work.

Why can’t Apple just send me a new computer?

It’s not like I don’t evangelise. Ask anyone who has met me in the last 15 years if I waste an opportunity to rave about Apple and the Macintosh. I sold the first iMac ever in Barbados in 1998. The iMac currently breaking my heart is my seventh Apple computer. And I will buy Apple again. I will always buy Apple. I am one of those die-hard Apple brain-washed folks people sneer at, don’t get, but who will preach the Mac Gospel as long as Apple keeps producing beautiful operating systems and beautiful machinery. All I can say is I have never experienced anything like this with any other Apple I have ever owned.

Even after this, I will never shift from my Macintosh environment to any other type of OS. My life’s work is bound up with Apple technology and the Mac Os platform. I feel no regret or remorse whatsoever in buying that iMac. I certainly feel no shame for being a Mac Geek.

It takes a special kind of grit to be a Mac Geek in the Third World. You live in an obtuse PC environment, with very little support of any kind, and few repair centres in the environs. Your equipment is more expensive because of shipping, your avenues for recourse more limited. I am what you call hardcore Apple faithful. Not even this will change that.

But this is breaking my heart. All I can do is cry and cry, because the one thing I want to do is work and earn enough to keep my little boat with me and my little boy in it afloat, and for two months I’ve not really been able to do that. I’ve dipped under the water so many times, holding my breath while pushing my child’s head above water. That’s the way it is suppose to be.

So I face losing my apartment now, and am desperately trying to figure out how to keep my boy at school. We’re getting lower and lower on food supplies again. I have been hanging on and hanging on hoping the computer would return by next week. Since this does not seem likely, I face losing what little project work I’ve been holding on (and off on) because a client will only be patient with your drama just so long, and then what?

What happens to my life in two weeks? I really don’t know what to say. I just have faith that something can and will turn around for me.

At this point, I think Apple should just send me a new computer, because I cannot see how pouring more parts worth more than the machine, is productive or efficient. Neither do I think I can sustain what is shaping up to be another three week wait. I am just barely managing my panic thinking about it. I cannot ask my mother to help me, she’s exhausted what funds she had to help, and is now also struggling with her finances because she has been helping me so much.

So this is me… in a proper righteous fret, but trying really hard not to let this newest delay… do what? Do what? Depress me, frighten me, worry me? I am already doing that. I am a single mother and not being able to support us is the thing that frightens and scares me most in life. What I won’t let it do is destroy my faith in myself, or in Apple.

I just want a machine I can work on. Really work on. I just want to get back to work.

UPDATE —- 10/02/09

Thank you to all those who have been retweeting the link to this post or writing about it in their own blogs.

Especially @knowprose, @whitetigres <--special love for you girl! @rahsheen, @hawtwings, @macyliu, @macupdate, @afrobella and @ymib.

Please also see Taran’s post about this.

I have NO DESIRE to rake Apple over the coals, and I am still a loyal Apple user. I am not taking any suggestions that include buying a PC. This is largely because Windows is not the solution to my problem, and in fact while I will not refuse any donation of a computer strong enough to run my apps or comparable ones, I will not willing purchase a PC. It’s not as personal as you think…. well maybe it is.

I also need to say that the guys at F1 Connect in Trinidad have been thorough and trying hard to resolve this, but after three weeks of diagnostics and now a second part ordered (screen), and their declaration of my Mac being the worst machine they’ve ever had in the shop, is telling me a lot. Not sure if it’s fair to keep them banging their heads against it, when the cheapest solution is to replace it.

The bottom line is, I do not have the means to purchase a replacement computer, and I need this to be resolved with as much swiftness and consideration as possible. I don’t have another month to languish while this continues.

To that end I am urging all those who have expressed an interest in helping me, to share this post on facebook, and to retweet my statuses on this, or link to it in your blog so that Apple can see how serious this is for me and possibly be moved to help.

I am trying to find an Apple exec somewhere, anywhere willing to listen to this story and act to help me. I do not have the luxury of waiting for the traditional ‘fourth repair’ before replacement, since I am barely scraping by right now, and I have to ship internationally every time. This seems unfair to me.

UPDATE 2—– :

Have emailed the Consumerist AND Steve Jobs. 🙂 Still looking for likely people that can get the word out about this, and who can share this with someone who can actually do something to help me NOW.

The content of the email:

Greetings from Barbados,

My Apple repair case #: 135272623

Repair #: R25307772

This is the story of real woman in the Third World, with a real child to feed, facing real issues and it is within your power to HELP ME!

Please follow the link to my blog post, http://ff.im/-9583J as it will give you the HUMAN story behind the Case number and Repair number.

I am trying to get someone’s attention. I do not have the luxury of going through either another month’s wait for this to be resolved, or for it to be sent for repair over and over or the means by which to replace my computer.

Someone please help me… It is within your power to do so, and this is becoming more and more urgent with each passing day.

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: ndelamiko lord

Date: Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 8:11 AM

Subject: iMac Heartbreak: Fear & Worry For My Family

To: [email protected]

Hello there,

I am writing to you at a suggestion from a friend of mine. I am a single mother of one little boy, living in the Caribbean. I am facing frightening circumstances, and dealing with the very real possibility of unemployement (and I am self-employed!) and displacement because of Apple’s shoddy repair job on my iMac.

I would like to invite someone at your publication to read the blog post I wrote last night: http://ff.im/-9583J

I have begun an Twitter retweet and facebook share post campaign trying to get the attention of the people at Apple, and I could really, really use some help with this.

I know you are probably very busy, but any attention you pay to this would be greatly appreciated!

My regards and respect for your work,

—–

ndelamiko lord

Writer/Web & Metaverse Developer

Blog: http://www.thegoddessroom.com

Second Life: http://www.kikolife.com

24 comments

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  • I heard you. Hopefully others do as well.

    As lame as this sounds… let me know if I can help somehow. I’ll shout on my end.

  • I sympathise with your situation but I have to ask – don’t you know *someone* who can loan you a computer? Don’t depend on Apple to send you one. But for heaven’s sake, if the welfare of you and your child are at stake…if you are losing your apartment, you must be able to find a computer somewhere to work on. Even if it is a PC!

    Come on, pull yourself together and get a computer!

    • No Nada… this is Barbados. I don’t know anyone with a spare computer lying around that they can ‘loan out’ indefinitely. And even if such a person existed, I doubt it would be one that could power all my tools… the laptop I am using is very, very, very slow and cannot keep up. Which is why it was replaced to begin with. I think sending me a new one would be the honourable thing to do, but I know Apple is a corporation. It’s unlikely they care one way or another about a single mother in Third World struggling to keep body and soul together. Yet, I am venting how I feel, because quite frankly what else is there to do. I am a writer, my only power is in my words right now.

  • Get over it, splurge for a Dell Inspiron and join the Dark Side 😀 It’s had three lives and still kicking butt, started with 1 GB RAM & 80 GB Hard Drive and is now 2,5 RAM w/250 Hard drive. Starving and denying ur child school over an OS is insane, they let you down now fuck them off

    • Ian, I am NOT starving or denying my child school JUST to be on an Apple OS.

      My machine died, and I am without one adequate enough to keep up. The horrors are the fall out from that. I am actually extremely offended by this comment: “Starving and denying ur child school over an OS is insane.” Very offended, since that is not what is happening and you obviously did not read the post.

      My child has never gone hungry by the grace of GOD, and he’s been to school every day.

      I have gone hungry to make sure he has…. you understand the difference? I’m saying, it’s been a very, very, very close thing, and stress, but he isn’t suffering as much as I am.

      I will never buy a PC on purpose Ian. If someone wants to send one for me, I won’t say no, but I won’t ever buy one.

  • You would be much better off learning how to fix computers, these companies clearly don’t care about you enough or your situation. I was trained by my mother and through some trial and error how to make computers. Just PC’s thou.

    I wish there was a way for Apple to allow you to make your own Mac, that way you wouldn’t have the issue of doleing out alot of money for a machine that you can’t fix because you don’t know what they did. When you make a machine, you can at least trace what you do when you put the machine together.

    I sympathize none the less with your problem and I’m not trying to port you over to PC land, but this seems serious enough for you to consider that other option.

  • twittering like crazy on this…also asking a techie friend.

    i will never understand why, in situations like this, they don’t just give you a new machine. the endless parts replacing never seems to work…

  • I AM STUNNED!!! JUST ABSOLUTELY FRIGGIN’ STUNNED!! How are you doing? Sounds like a wolf in sheep’s clothing (PC in Mac casing). I am so infuriated with Apple right now. I’m sitting here fuming and wondering what I can do for you from Canada. I feel useless.

  • Well, girl, all I can say is I understand your predicament very well – this is the all too real plight of those with talent but not large resources in the Caribbean – the loss of one key piece of equipment can rob you of your cash flow – which despite appearances (which we’re great at keeping up aren’t we?) ain’t big, and of your ability to do the great business you are capable of.

    My husband is currently battling with his PC willing it to keep coming back to life long enough to finish the work – quickly enough to satisfy the clients – so for what it’s worth, big understanding and sympathy to you. I know also you need a Mac because all your programs will be Mac based.

    The only thing I can think of is are there no local organizations to help to deal with crises like this – does the small biz assoc or BIDC not have any grant funds that you could access to just buy a new machine? Caribbean Export?

    I’m going to copy part of your post and post it to my blog n link back (it’s only a little help believe me a small handful of readers) but it’s something I can do

    keep the faith

  • Not sure if I am reading this correctly but is the lady expecting Apple to replace a machine that was fried by a power surge? (Her own admission).

    I’m as big a Mac geek as the next guy, but honestly I wouldn’t expect to “guilt” Apple into giving me a new machine. Seriously.

    • @BlahBlahBlog Dude… I don’t know what caused the problem. I’m saying it happened after lightning stuck my building, but I don’t know that was the cause. Read the post, I had other machines plugged into the same network and electrical supply and none of them experienced the same problems. Yet I have searched online and found many, many, many reports of the exact problems I was experiencing with my exact make and model iMac with no powersurge involved at all. I’ve come to believe the two things were coincidental, and not related.

      What is more… Apple honoured the warrantee in California and repaired the machine. The repair and parts were all under warrantee, and they’ve agreed to honour THAT warrantee too. So at the very least, they’re aware of and committed to help me. What is more, my problems have merely been exasperated by their failure to correctly test and ‘fix’ the machine in California.

      Understand me, I am not angry at Apple. I’m not saying it’s Apple’s fault, or my fault, or anything like that. But Apple is known to fix and/or replace computers for customers even when they were rolled over by cars (which is clearly not covered by the warrantee). I am not trying to guilt them into giving me a computer, I want a solution to the problem. I think that replacing the computer makes more sense than pouring more parts into a machine, and spending another month trying to figure out why it’s not working. As it is, the parts that have gone into it are now worth more than the machine! And the longer this goes unresolved, is the more damage it is doing to my life and my ability to remain employed at what I do.

      I am trying to bring their attention to this, because what else CAN I do?

  • Finola, thanks so much for your post, and your comments and good vibes! Right now, I am not sure, I am open to all suggestions for a solution.

    Your post was very insightful, and you made some very pertinent and POWERFUL statements, especially about what it is like to live as a micro-entrepreneur.

    For me it is even more isolated in terms of support, because my life is online. I work there overtime everyday. I get clients online, service and support their projects online, and never actually meet them in the flesh. When I get paid, it has been until now nearly impossible for me to convert that money into hard currency, because of the limitations of the banking system locally.

    So there it is, I am screwed for being a Mac Geek, screwed for being a Net geek. But I am not giving up. I know that there is a solution to this and if venting in my own space at least gives me ideas as to how to handle this, then I will keep doing it, and be grateful for all comments and information, leads, and support you can offer me.

    I am hoping that the retweets, the reblogs and the comments will help raise awareness about this. I have had people say some things I thought were unkind. Things I felt were judgmental, but I know people always have their own opinion about things.

    I am just saying… I am not mad at Apple, and I am not trying to damage their reputation, because I still consider Apple to be one of the finest companies in the world. The fact that they committed to repair my machine even though the warrantee had lapsed proves this. I have always had great experiences with Apple Care, even when I was in London. Even if they don’t take me on now, and I don’t actually find a way to get them interested enough in this to help me, I will still find a way to deal with this and it won’t stop me from buying Apple products again. It’s just next time I will ban my belly and pay for an Extended Apple Care warrantee. Last year when I bought my iMac, I just couldn’t stretch my budget any further… but I should have found a way to do that.

    The same way the Apple Store in California should have taken a moment to test my machine before they sent it back.

    • Thank you boboleechron! I read the article and it has some excellent info regarding Apple’s Customer policies and service etc.

      However, it begs pointing out I am in the Caribbean, and hence Apple doesn’t appear to give much Care about what being a non-US or ‘developed world’ customer is like. Mind you, when I was living in England and was purchasing Apple products within in a ‘recognised market’, my customer service from Apple was EXEMPLARY. Nothing short of a wonderful experience as a consumer.

      The access to a real geek’s life was the Number 1 reason I left the Caribbean and headed north to England. It will be the Number 1 reason I leave the region again and head out.

      Being in Barbados, has not only seriously curtailed my options as a technology consumer, but also been part and parcel of my frustrations with the work that I do. Of course, a lack of customer service is something that us here in Caribbean supposedly have to get used to. Our money just doesn’t add up to enough to impress upon the corporate powers that be.

      All of that aside, because I am here and not there, and the unique circumstances of this situation, I doubt any of this applies to me.

      I thank you though for your thoughts, and for sharing. I will reshare across my network for those who may find it useful. Have a great Sunday!

  • So I am sitting on a number of sides of the fence here:
    1) I am a Trinidadian technologist (temporarily in the USA on assignment)
    2) I am also an electrical engineer working with many high end product lines here both software and hardware.

    So here we go.

    Unfortunately, many are correct, electrical damage is not equipment fault – so Apple went above and beyond their T&C to honor you with a warranty.

    Now, solutions – we can’t cry over spilt milk here, but I think the fundable idea is a great idea. I will continue propagating your story through my social network as well. One little downside is that I think PayPal does not take CCs from the Caribbean any more. So we need to think of alternatives to this, because I am sure many Caribbean supporters don’t mind $10 USD.

    After the dust has settled we need to start thinking of a DR solution for you. And start a fund to replace your technology on a regular basis. We’d need to speak about this in some detail after but a good Power protection for your system would probably run you about $400 USD and we would need to spec this properly all things considered.

    • Hi Trini Fox!

      1) I don’t believe that electricity caused the damage to my computer. Like I have said in the post and subsequently, I had my iMac, and my two legacy laptops plugged into the same surge protection unit, and none of the other machines or connected harddrives experienced even one moment’s trouble. I spoke to someone who said, there is no way electricity would be so selective about which machine it would damage. If one was damaged, they all would have been.

      2) WE RAISED THE MONEY FOR THE BACKUP! 🙂 YAY!!! 🙂

      3) DR solution? (Feel very blonde here…)

      4) I have surge supressors here, but like I said, don’t think that was the issue.

      I searched Apple’s official support forums, as well as several MUG forums, and there are alot of reports very similar to mine with regards to THIS particular make, model and configuration, so I am thinking the problem extends way beyond just my problem.

      So we cannot mark down the problems the iMac is experiencing to electrical damage. That’s not what happened, I am certain of it, or I wouldn’t have even this slow ass laptop to type on.

  • […] wasn't too long ago that a Bajan friend had problems with Apple- you can read about it here and here – but to save you the trouble of clicking the links, I can simply tell you that […]

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