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What do these three well dressed gentlemen have in common?
According to reports at Apple Defects, Apple have done it again: wiped out a forum thread where word was spreading about defects in Apple hardware and Apple's refusal to address the issues. After over 16,000 viewings the 'censor crew' Apple claim no longer exist went into action - and the thread is no more.
What's even more amazing is that consumer organisations do not react: Apple's actions are substantial evidence that the Cupertino company are not honouring their product warranties - and a further sign of piss poor service.
From BMW to VW
Apple's transition from their high quality 64-bit PowerPC processors to the low of the Intel industry rejects was completed faster than anticipated, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs congratulated his engineering team, expressing pride in their work. But not once has he or any other representative of Apple apologised to Apple customers for giving them the royal shaft.
'Revision A' hardware is bound to have more quirks than other releases, but this has been ridiculous with Apple topping defect rates for the entire industry.
The list of ludicrous insults has grown so long no one wants to even remember anymore.
From Good Guys to Bad Guys
Once upon a time Apple were one of the few companies consistently praised by customers and ranked by consumer rights groups on their 'good guys' lists. That time is now more than five years in the past. Amongst the complaints cited are Apple's refusal to honour extended AppleCare warranties and Steve Jobs' infamous 'bait and switch' with iTools.
From Posted to Disappeared
Apple have long had a remarkable propensity for both hosting forums for discussion of their products and then removing any posts that complain about the same. Business administration texts would advise listening to customer feedback, not stifling it. They would also predict the demise of any corporation that did otherwise.
From Bug to Feature
Time and again when dangerous bugs are found in Apple's software their shoestring security team respond with an earache of a mantra such as 'expected behaviour' or 'works as designed'. When security experts declare their intent to make their research public, Apple turn matters over to their well budgeted PR team and to the 'Mac press' to coordinate smear campaigns.
From Flicker to Black
On 30 November 2006 Apple Defects reported on yet another issue with Apple's new computer hardware: an 'inexplicable' backlight screen flicker. You can see a YouTube clip of this 'phenomenon' here. One user described the experience as follows.
My screen started blinking occasionally. It seemed to go back to normal if I changed the angle of display. Then as I started using my MacBook more it's got to the point where the flicker becomes a completely blank screen. It can last several minutes at a time. Even restarting or plugging in doesn't help.
I contacted Apple care and reset the PRAM; however twenty four hours later it started again and is now worse than ever. I can't write, email, watch films, play games or look at photos without it going blank.
Back then Apple Defects could find only 100 references to the flicker issue at the Apple discussion forums. But things would change drastically.
From Contained to Out of Control
By 31 January 2007 the discussion thread had grown astronomically. And what really got the crowd going was Apple's official response from AppleCare in Cupertino: the MacBook is a 'consumer grade' model and is therefore subject to such imperfections and defects. In other words: Apple will not fix it.
One forum poster responded as follows.
This is extremely disappointing. Even if the Apple engineers acknowledge there is a problem with this machine, it seems they can play the 'consumer grade' card and get away with selling a defective product. Improperly shielded and implemented displays are NOT 'consumer grade'. Just because we didn't fork over 2 grand doesn't mean we aren't protected from defects.
Apple Defects commented as follows.
This may be news to that AppleCare rep, but Apple built their name around trendy, exclusive, pricey, and (supposedly) well built products, so the 'consumer grade' excuse doesn't cut it.
One Jobs to Rule Them All
It's no secret Steve Jobs is a micro-manager: he insists on controlling all aspects of his company. Nothing happens at Apple without Steve Jobs' express approval. In a company where highest level management even have to learn to part their CPUs on the same side in their jeans there's only one man to point the finger at.
That consumers blasted by substandard products for which they've paid thousands are silenced rather than assisted can therefore be the work and responsibility of one man alone.
That forum threads commenting on these issues are simply deleted when the spin doctors say it's time to pull the plug is again the work and responsibility of one man alone.
Steve Jobs evidently believes he can screw his customers, abandon those who get burnt on faulty products, silence them even, and still get away with it.
It's up to consumers - and especially those who've long enjoyed the high quality in Apple products - to see that he doesn't.
Apple Defects: Inexplicable MacBook Screen Flicker
Apple Defects: MacBook Screen Flicker Problem Continues
Apple Defects: Apple Deleting Message Board Threads on MacBook Screen Flicker Problem