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Take care of your Apples

I love my iMac.

I have a Late 2009 model, and it’s really nice!

27-inch glass screen display with 2560 by 1440 pixels, four USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 800 port, two internal 17-wall high-efficiency amplifiers, an ATI Radeon HD graphics processor with 256MB of GDDR3 memory, 2.66GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM memory (actually, it’s 12GB, but I’ll get on to that)…

…and a 1TB Serial ATA 7200 rpm hard drive, which is the reason I’m writing this post.

For the past few months or so I’d been finding my iMac getting slower and slower. I’d click to open a file in Photoshop and would be waiting ten seconds or longer for it to open. Other basic functions were slowing down too and it was getting really frustrating. I thought that maybe it was the processor and memory struggling to cope with a hard drive slowly reaching capacity (only 10% free) so I bought some more memory thinking that would do the trick. I increased the RAM from 4GB to 12GB (don’tcha just love eBay?) but that didn’t seem to help at all. It wasn’t until I used Disk Utility to repair disk permissions that I saw the name of my main hard drive was showing in red letters.

Whatever system you might have at home, red letters are never good.

The message was that my SMART Status was failing (whatever that is) and that the drive couldn’t be repaired. I phoned Apple customer support and they confirmed this to be the case. I needed a new hard drive. Fortunately, I’d paid for the three year Apple Care protection when I bought the iMac so I was fully covered. Unfortunately I forgot the register the Apple Care at the time, and no longer had the box it came in.

Apple were really good about it. I emailed them a copy of my invoice with the Apple Care showing, and they were able to post-date the registration for me. Once the Apple Care had been registered I phoned MCC Digital in Warrington and asked them if they could fix it for me. They said yes, so I took it in on 30th April. I picked MCC because I thought (foolishly, as it turns out) that they’d be quicker. Also, I could drop it off on the way to Manchester, wouldn’t have to pay for parking, and I could pull up right outside. I was told it would take up to a week, so I waited until Tuesday 8th May to follow it up following the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.

I spoke to a nice man in the MCC Service Department who said that they couldn’t fix the iMac because they were still waiting for Apple to send the spare parts. Apple weren’t being forthcoming with the reason for the delay or an expected date for delivery. When I phoned again today (Wednesday 9th) I was told the same thing, that they hadn’t been able to get a reply from Apple.

I phoned Apple customer services and was told that I might be better taking the machine to an Apple store. If I contact them in advance they should be able to tell me if they have the required part. So I phoned the Apple Store in Liverpool ONE and got through to the Genius Bar where I was told I’d have to make an appointment and bring the iMac in for them to diagnose the problem. I told the member of staff that it had already been diagnosed, but he said that they’d still have to diagnose it themselves before they could move forward with a repair. I said I wasn’t prepared to drive to MCC to collect the iMac and bring it in to Liverpool without knowing that they had the part, and he said that he wasn’t able to tell me until I’d brought it in!

I asked to speak to to the manager. I explained the situation to her, and she phoned the repair room and came back to say that they had one hard drive in stock but that they couldn’t reserve it – I had to hope that nobody else brought in an iMac that needed a new hard drive before I’d managed to get in. So I made my Genius Bar appointment, went and collected from MCC, and took it in to the Apple Store in Liverpool ONE. MCC’s diagnostic program was already running when Mark fired up the power, so the diagnosing was done for him! He took the machine from me and said that it could take anything up to seven working days, but will probably be shorter. Apparently they say seven days to cover themselves in case they have to send for a part, or another complication arises along the way.

I left the Apple Store at 12.30pm and got a call at 5.45pm to say it was fixed and ready to collect! I wasn’t expecting it to be that quick!

As I’m typing now, my iMac is back on my desk in my study upstairs being restored using the magic that is Time Machine. When it’s finished I’ll have my old machine back again exactly as it was when I last used it. And now that it’s got 12GB of memory it should be faster than ever before.

At the end of the story it’s good marks and bad marks for Apple.

Bad mark – the hard drive shouldn’t be failing after only two and a half years (2 out of 10)
Good mark – Apple registered my Apple Care protection from 2009 without any fuss (10 out of 10)
Bad mark – Apple weren’t able to send the necessary part to MCC after more than a week of waiting (1 out of 10)
Good mark – Mark from the Apple Store in Liverpool ONE was able to fix my iMac in just over five hours  (10 out of 10, plus a bonus of 5)

And the moral of the story? Always buy the three-year Apple Care protection when you buy your new iMac or MacBook!

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