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Pixel Creek: When you absolutely want the very worst

So last week the new Mac Mini developed a problem. I put the new Keane CD in, and it didn’t show up in iTunes. “Weird,” I thought, and rebooted. Still nothing going on. After some poking around on my own, I booted into Open Firmware and issued the eject command from there (I don’t remember what it is now… ah, the wonder that is Google). “No device found.” Hmm… that doesn’t sound good.

An hour later, the guy from Apple Support is coming to the conclusion that yes, this is a bad CD drive. Apparently it’s a known issue on the “early 2006” (ie, intel) models; I have a “late 2005” (ie, last ppc) model, but the symptoms were the same. He gave me the name and address of the nearest Apple Authorized Repair Center, Pixel Creek . This is an object lesson in why you should look up a company before going there. Pixel Creek is actually part of Adams Remco, the copy machine vendor and repair operation. Walking into Pixel Creek is like walking into the most depressing office ever. Dirty carpet, bad flourescents, and Niki, the lone receptionist. Niki took my Mac in last Friday… while we were filling out paper work, the phone rang, and the tape-based answering machine picked it up. That should have been the omen I needed; seriously, I’m taking my computer to get repaired at a place that can’t spring for a decent answering machine?! While there I explicitly told Niki: I want the CD that’s in there.

Today I got the call that it was ready for pick up. So I stopped in after class and was greeted by two guys who asked if I could come back later, since Niki wasn’t there. Uh, no, I can’t come back later. Are you getting paid for this? Luckily Niki was walking in the front door and she juggled her Diet Mountain Dew, Office Depot purchase and pack of Marlboro Menthol Lights while pulling the work order. Ten minutes later, I have the machine, but no CD. “Is the CD back in the drive?” I ask, fearing the worst. “Hmm, I know you asked for it, it should be on the work order,” says Niki. Nope, no mention of it on the work order. “Well it must be back in the drive.”

Of course I get back across town and it’s not. A call back to Niki and a return call to tell me that no, actually they couldn’t get it out without damaging the CD. “Damaging the drive you mean?” “No, the CD. You can call the tech directly.” And so I did.

“Yeah, I just couldn’t get too invasive or Apple won’t give us credit.” I did tell Paul that it was pretty shitty that I had to make follow-up calls to find out where it was, especially since I explicitly mentioned it at drop-off. You would think if there was a problem he would have called me directly to let me know, or at least noted it on the work order. “Yeah, you’re right; that’s my fault. Really sorry about the inconvenience.” Shitty. You can call him and tell him how shitty it is, too — 888-968-1442 (ask for Paul). I doubt anyone cares enough to do so (hell, I doubt anyone cares enough to have read this far), but just writing it makes me feel better.

Overall the Pixel Creek experience has left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t know what I expected, I’m just pissed that a warranty repair means I have to buy the CD again. Apple really needs to evaluate their authorized service centers more closely; people getting repair work done are the people you should be nicest to — they’ve already decided to buy something from you, so now you want to keep them and achieve the wonder that is repeat business. Pixel Creek: Doing their best to make me shop around.