Suffering the Swings and Arrows of Outrageous Customer Service!

This holiday season I was given some Christmas money, and I wanted to purchase a DVD burner for my G4 Apple Macintosh computer. When I purchased my computer, I was wise in buying a tower since they are upgradeable, right? WRONG!When I attempted to place an order for what Apple calls a “Superdrive” they refused, stating that they do not carry them in stock. After a very lengthy discussion, they sternly stated that the Apple store does not sell them!
I found this to be quite odd. I worked as a computer service technician for over 10 years. I serviced every make and model machine from Compaq, IBM, HP, Dell, and even a cheap no-name Korean brand that went out of business, and none of them refused to sell me an internal drive of any kind, EVER! I knew that the sales people might not have been properly trained, so I decided to speak with Apple’s service department. I thought that a certified Apple service technician would be able to help me, WRONG! They stated that they would not ship me a DVD drive because my machine was not originally purchased with one. I retorted by asking them, could I buy a second “Superdrive” if my machine came with one, then they said yes! However, I would have to order it through a certified Apple Service Provider. Apparently, Apple does not provide such a complicated, labor-intensive service. I called one store local to me, and he stated that it would cost me $450.00 of my Christmas money!!!! WHAT?!?!?

I called Apple back, and I was forced to wait on hold for over 3 hours. Finally I spoke with Apple’s customer relations department. This policy must be a mistake, as it is the worst possible experience I have ever had with a computer vendor. I asked them why Apple is the only computer company on the face of the planet that refuses to provide an upgrade part for their machines. They completely refused to give an adequate answer , then gave no explanation, and no recourse at all. They stated that I had to purchase a third party external drive, but they are not compatible with Apple’s iDVD software. They also stated that any third party internal drive was not guaranteed to work with iDVD. Is this application forever uselessly installed on my computer from the factory? I will probably purchase a third party drive, and figure out a workaround like I would for a Windows or Linux box, but if that is the case then why purchase a Macintosh to begin with?
I guess all of my technology friends were right when they warned me before purchasing my machine. They would tell me, “Macintosh computers can not be upgraded easily.”

When I discussed this with other people, they said that they would never have tried to buy a Superdrive from Apple, and that they would never try to buy an upgrade component from any computer manufacturer. I received comments in an e-mail such as this, “Why pay the extra money for nothing? So the fact that they
don’t offer the drive as anything but a replacement part doesn’t really
surprise me. However, the thing that really disgusts me is that they didn’t
tell you the truth when you called: that you can buy a Superdrive from
other vendors, and that although they don’t “support” other drives, a lot of
them work just fine, and work with iDVD, and the fact that they don’t “support” them means that if you can’t get it working properly, you’re not
entitled to use your free Apple tech support to try to get it working. So
that’s the truth, and they should have told you that. Shame on them for
giving you the runaround like they did.You can go to dozens of resellers’ web sites where they will sell you a
Superdrive. 30 seconds on google found me one for $179. Other World
Computing also has a bunch of iDVD compatible drives”.

My response is that they should support at least ONE updraded drive! That is why I called them in the first place. Even Microsoft offers a hardware compatibility list (HCL), for those devices that they support. If they only told me, “the following drives are supported”,and gave me a short list I would have stoppped calling them.

I even had someone say that “From what I understand, with my experience with DVD-+RW disks on OSX,
the component of OSX that deals with optical drives, simply, sucks.
That’s the reason they prefer to not support at all third party drives
or just in conjuction with iDVD: because their generic driver for them is not as reliable as it should, or as compatible.

On Apple’s own website I posed this question to others. Here is the most critical information that I found:

1) If you run into this problem, you can read owner reviews of different drives @ xlr8yourmac’s Drive Compatibility database. A database that Apple should provide, if they are not going to sell you a working drive.

2) After you find a working drive, then you might need PatchBurn to enable Finder & iApp support for most 3rd party drives. It’s better to stick with a vendor that Apple uses (support is to strong a word) such as Pioneer, NEC, LG, Plextor, or LaCie.

3) Since 3rd party DVD-/+R/RW burners can be had for under $75 online, it would make no sense to buy one from Apple for several hundred, even if you could.
If you really want a drive with Apple-firmware (usually limits drive performance) you can look on sites such as OtherWorldComputing; they often have such drives for sale.
They recomended a DVR-108 or ND-3500A.

All this aside, this “work-around” process should not be happening for machines that cost as much as $2000.00! I simply bought a DVR-107 out of frustration from the first website I found that claimed to have compatible drives. And I paid too much for it, to boot! I would not be upset by this if I were running Linux. I bought a Macintosh computer because I thought they always had certified drivers for a small subset of equipment. I was even willing to pay slightly more for that convenience. Now, the writing is on the wall. I bet, it will be an expensive pain to replace my video card. I will leave that for another day.


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