An open letter to Apple Computer

I recently experienced a hard disk failure on my 2008 iMac. There’s nothing surprising about that. Hard disks don’t last forever. Leaving aside the epic rigamarole necessary to replace an iMac hard disks, I installed the new one and needed to do a restore from Time Machine.

Apple markets Time Machine as a simple and easy way to recover from a catastrophic disk failure.  Loading your data is supposed to be a trivial operation–unless you’ve lost your Snow Leopard disks and upgraded to Mavericks on-line.

After exhausting my own knowledge on the matter, I broke down and called Apple Tech Support. The guy I talked to was very nice. He suggested I press the Option key while selecting the Leopard DVD as the boot device. It did. The installer recognized the external disk with the back up and seemed to restore my system–only it didn’t. That led to several hours of chasing my tail and a second call to Apple Tech Support.

Tech support guy number two informed me I’d been misinformed. He told me “you” can’t restore a Mavericks Time Machine back up with the Leopard install disk.  His advice was to buy a copy of Snow Leopard in order to upgrade to the “free” Mavericks, thus requiring a $20 expense and a wait for shipping.

I own and have paid  for every OS X update from Panther through Mountain Lion and had Mavericks installed on the old hard disk. I also told the guy I had another computer with Mavericks loaded on it. The last disk-based copy of OS X I have is Leopard. Honestly I can’t remember but either I threw out Snow Leopard, which I doubt, or did the upgrade (and all subsequent upgrades) as an Internet install.

Apple Tech guy number two’s advice, though technically not incorrect, was hardly optimal. After some Google research and an “ah ha” moment, I subsequently figured out that all I needed was a Mavericks boot flash drive. That led to a bit more research. I found a third-party tool called Disk Maker X and using one of my other Maverick installs. I was ultimately successful in restoring my old system, lock, stock, and barrel.

Yesterday, I received a follow up email from Apple inquiring about my recent experience with Tech Support. I’m not sure why I bothered but I clicked on the link and filled out the survey form.

At the bottom of the form was a space for comments. There I explained the situation and wrote that I have been a loyal Apple customer for many years and have owned many Apple products but find myself becoming increasingly disenchanted with the company’s attitude toward its customers. Lately it seems that ALL tech support roads, whether at the Apple Genius bar, at the Apple Store or Apple phone support lead to spending more money at the Apple store.

My experiences this year, including this one, have torn a rift in my technology universe. For the first time ever I’ve started thinking of Apple in the same way I used to think of Micro$oft. Going forward. As my Apple products age, need replacement, I have resolved to look for alternatives.

I doubt anyone reads those surveys. And if they do, I doubt anyone will do anything to restore my good will. But on the off chance that somebody from Apple Computer remembers how they built their fiercely loyal customer base, I challenge Apple Computer to contact me and make a sincere effort to revisit how they do business and to restore my good will. Apple became popular because it was the “cool” company that actually cared about its customers. Now? Not so much. At least in my experience.