Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Rotten Apple

I spent about two-and-a-half hours on the phone today with the semi-good people at Apple Computers, Inc. tonight trying to fix my sick iPod that has been under the weather since Tuesday morning.

In reality, I sort of blame the Flaming Lips. You see, Tuesday morning was when their newest album "At War with the Mystics" became available on iTunes. Since I really liked the previous album "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" (thanks for initially turning me onto it, Flipper!) I thought I would buy this one as well. In fact, I pre-ordered it more than a week ago; it just wasn't available for download until Tuesday.

So, that morning, I checked my iTunes account while getting my breakfast cereal. Sure enough, it was ready and I downloaded it. Anticipating the pleasures of listening to a new album at work that day, I hooked up my iPod (named PRPL 33, by the way) up to synch the iTunes Library to ole' PRPL. But . . . something went wrong. It started synching fine, but then somewhere halfway through, it stopped and gave me an error message, indicating something about not recognizing the disk.

I ejected the iPod and tried again. This time, it got worse . . . not even realizing that the iPod was attached and bringing up all new strange error messages about unrecognized disk drives, asking me to initialize the disk or eject, who know what manner of problems.

So, I slunk off to work hoping that maybe the computer was temporarily freaked out and would be better by the afternoon. It didn't turn out to be any better that afternoon, nor this morning.

In fact, I thought that I had wiped the memory this morning, since PRPL wasn't showing any songs. So, while at work I reset the iPod and let it charge for several hours. When I checked on it after lunch, everything seemed back to normal--at least my library (minus the new Flaming Lips--which was still residing on the computer at home). But . . . I remained hopeful.

When I got home, I plugged PRPL back in and crossed my fingers. Sure enough, things looked okay. The new albums started synching . . . aaaaand then, it stopped. The error messages were back.

I called customer support and after swallowing the fact that since I hadn't purchased an Apple Care protection plan, I was going to have to either purchase a plan for the remainder of my first year's purchase (till June) or pay a fee for this call . . . I chose the single call price. It was cheaper.

I got underway explaining my dilemma to CSR #1 (note the presence of a numeral here; I believe that is called FORESHADOWING) and he got me started in an attempt to synch the iPod again, eventually resulting in the computer telling me that the disk wasn't recognized and asking if I wanted to initialize the disk. We were underway with that procedure when he put me on hold (to go to the bathroom? to consult an arcane manual? to get coffee?). {PLEASE NOTE HERE THAT THIS GUY HAD BEEN FAIRLY HELPFUL, IF NOT COMING OFF AS COMPLETELY KNOWLEDGEABLE AND ON TOP OF THE PROBLEM.} But I was confident . . . mostly and this call had only taken up maybe twenty minutes of my evening to this point (FORESHADOWING!!). Lynda was busy getting the kid's supper underway and was generally being a real mensch about me being trapped like this. But ANYWAY . . . on hold.

Then, disconnected!

I was forced to call back, navigate back into the phone tree and hope to hell that I could somehow get to the same CSR again. We all now know enough about job outsourcing and tech support help based on the Indian subcontinent to know that was a faint hope. So, I had to re-explain my problem to CSR #2 (MORE FORESHADOWING? You be the judge!) and explain that I had been preparing to initialize my iPod disk (I think) when I was put on hold and then lost the call.

Well, #2 wasn't interested in doing this procedure, even though the windows to do it were still awaiting instruction and input on my screen. She wanted to delete iTunes and reinstall the whole program. {NOTE, THIS GIRL SEEMED A BIT LESS ON THE BALL THAN #1, COMPOUNDED BY THE FACT THAT SHE WAS SUFFERING FROM LARYNGYTIS. SHE WAS HARD TO HEAR ABOVE THE NOISE OF DINNER-MAKING OVER RIGHT SHOULDER AND INCREASINGLY HUNGRY/RESTLESS KIDS OVER LEFT SHOULDER.} But, I trusted her and dutifully Trashed my existing iTunes program and set about downloading a new program from the Apple website.

After a few minutes of download time I tried to launch the installer, finally got it going and found that the installer wouldn't/couldn't install anything! So, I tried again (#2 told me to try again, I should say). The downloading went slower and the SAME problem occurred. #2 then told me to find my original iTunes program disk that came with the computer and reinstall from that. After about three minutes of frustrated digging around my office desk, I found the correct disk and got THAT installation underway. And . . . it didn't work either.

By now I am really frustrated. Call #2 has gone to just about the 50 minute mark, following the aborted 30 minutes of call #1. And keep in mind that when call #2 began, I explained that I had only purchased the "rights" to call #1. I couldn't let this emergency/disconnected re-call end without resolution, since I didn't want to purchase another tech call. Even further, I could tell that CSR #2 was growing a bit flustered and wasn't really sure why the installation wasn't working. She probably thought I was incompetent and doing something wrong. My temper was rising (as was my voice). Lynda was finishing the dinner prep and the girls were rattling around close by.

She puts me on hold . . .

. . . for . . . maybe . . . twenty? . . . no, thirty . . . minutes?

No WAY am I giving up now. I held that phone to my ear and ate my dinner. I passed the phone off to Lynda and stood up and stretched. I cleaned the dirty dishes and loaded the dishwasher. Lynda held on. The girls got dessert. We held on.

Did she intentionally ditch us? To induce the costly call back?

We didn't care, but we were clearly stalemated. So, while Lynda held on with the land line, I started the process again with the cell phone. I let Lynda handle the explanation while I distracted Grace with a movie. When I got back to the situation, Lynda was talking to CSR #3 (!!) who informed us that CSR#2 had lost the connection (but why hadn't the land line signaled a lost connection?) and then probably given up trying to call us back. CSR #3 said that they had tried (was he working in the same location as #2?).

Anyway, I relocated the laptop, the iPod and the cell phone to another room to get away from noise and focus, plugged the cell into an outlet to prevent losing battery, turned the speaker phone on and got ready.

CSR #3 was very competent, direct, clear, business-like. He led me through several things, some of which had already been tried, but some which had not.

In the end, he ran out of tricks and we all decided that the iPod needed to be shipped to someone for repair/possible replacement. #3 sent an email to get that process underway and maybe by this weekend, I mail PRPL 33 off to California (or wherever) to go under the knife.

I am hopeful that solutions can be found (and its still under warranty, thank God). But I'm gonna feel naked at work for a while.


Sven Golly said...


Revolt of the Pod People


Return of the Pod People


The neoLuddites Strike Back

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just reading this exhausted me.

I got a bit lucky with my iPod. I was having battery problems and took it to an Apple Store where the guy just replaced it for me. Recently I have been having a different sort of a batter problem, mostly due to (I'm guessing) lack of use. It wouldn't hold a charge for more than a few hours, and I'm talking about while it was off. Hooking it up to juice everyone once in a while, and just turning it on randomly, seems to have helped.

I dread when I have to replace the battery. But I suspect by then I'll want the newest and latest one, even if it's not an iPod. I'm wishing that Creative Labs will hurry and catch up on technology.

David said...

Well, I got mine back this past week.

Even though I knew it was a faint hope, I convinced myself to 35% that I would get a 60 GB video Pod as a replacement, since they don't sell the 60 GB (non video) iPod anymore.

But no, just a replacement of the one I already had. But it's all good since this new one is pristine and the case hasn't been marked up or anything.

So, I rockin' and rollin' again!

Sony said...

Randomly came across your blog -- nice job, by the by -- and enjoyed/empathized with your tale of all the CSRs. Had a similar experience over my wireless router and spent way too long on the phone only to figure it out myself and then explain to some guy named "Alex" how I fixed the problem. Glad it all worked out for you.