Daniel Tull: Blog

A bad day in an Apple store

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

So my brother has had his iPod nano since they came out, and recently has been having problems with it. I took a look at it and found out it appears to have the same error as Eric Cheng, although it appears he needed to use Windows to reformat it and my brother (and his iTunes equipped Windows laptop) left. Well, I need to go to Southampton Apple Store to buy a couple hard drives, so I booked an appointment with a genius and headed out.

The genius wasn’t too chatty, looking at it, trying to restore it in iTunes, like I had tried to do many times the previous night, on a MacBook with no luck. The 1418 we get, says that an incomplete update has been performed, or so I am told. He also informed me that the logic board had been “fried” probably because of using an out-of-date iTunes and maybe by pulling the USB cable out halfway through a firmware update, before it was ready - given light by the 1418 error.

Disk Utility gives an input/output error when trying to reformat, which he says further supports it being a logic board problem and suggests the cheapest way of resolving the situation is to by a new iPod nano, “after all” (and I quote) “they have better screens and longer battery life”. My brother’s iPod nano is scratched a little, although no major ones, but was in perfect working order before this error. He doesn’t need a new one, although he may want a new one.

Well, I wasn’t convinced and needed to try something. Eric mentioned in his post that Disk Utility wouldn’t work, but Windows XP’s Disk Management had worked. Well I’m in an Apple Store and I know that Windows XP is installed on the Mac Pro, so I head over and bring up Parallels, asking Steff how to use the USB iPod with it. This was actually surprisingly easy; I ejected the iPod from iTunes, and clicked the USB logo at the bottom of the Parallels window.

I never got far enough, I tried to find Disk Management, but a store worker came over and told me I couldn’t use Parallels on my own because “it is not a product Apple makes or sells” and that “Apple doesn’t want to advertise Windows”. I’m sorry, but Apple DOES advertise Windows. She kindly said I could use it for a few minutes but then I should turn it off. Then, seeing the iPod connected to the front of the machine, told me that I cannot plug in an iPod. I explained that it’s dead, and I’m trying to revive it. She said I couldn’t, but left without me taking it out.

Maybe I was stupid to assume I could carry on my mission to revive this iPod this way, but a few seconds later, the genius I was talking to came over and told me to stop what I was doing. I said I had found that someone with the same error as I had found a fix using Windows, but he said that “the iPod gives an input/output error in Disk Utility and that it would not work in Windows”. At this point, I’m getting pretty annoyed and responded, “basically, iTunes screwed this iPod?”. “Your iPod is out of warranty”, he replied. “The software screwed this iPod?”, I asked. “iTunes has a disclaimer when you start it up.” he replied in a straight manner.

Hang about. You are meant to use iTunes. They distribute it to use with the iPod. If you use iTunes, you use it at your own risk? What the hell? To quote Steff, “that’s pure genius”.

Anyway, I give up on my mission and continue to use my PowerBook to chat with Steff about this scenario, and after five minutes another store guy comes over. He asks me about my iTunes and whether it had sharing turned on, which it was and he asked me to turn it off. The reason? He didn’t want it showing up on all the other machines in the store BECAUSE he didn’t want other people to be able to copy the music across the network. I’m sorry? Why the hell do you work in an Apple Store? iTunes doesn’t allow you to copy files across the network, that’s the point of the sharing and how Apple can do it without the wrath of the music industry.

I’m not going to rant any further, I’ll leave you to make up your mind. Maybe I expect too much, maybe all the staff decided they would gang up on me that particular day. I will say that I went to the first Apple Store in Regent Street and many others since then, and I have been having worse and worse experiences at the stores. More and more staff don’t appear to know how to use OS X, others just more annoying.

The freedom of Apple Stores is sinking away, the ability to go in and just use the machines is fading away and this hurts Apple. They once prided themselves on the freedom, now you get hassled by every hunter salesperson in the store looking to make a sale.