I have three Tucson pals, all of whom purchased a 6500-series Macintosh at around the same time. Each of these friends has been using his Mac with gusto, running OS 8.1 on a daily basis, until last week. There’s never a dull moment, folks, when your life depends upon a computer, even one from Cupertino.
Stan calls. He can’t connect to AOL. I tell him to run Norton Disk Doctor and re-install his America Online software. He already did. I suggest he double-check his internal 33.6k modem settings, which he does, but AOL’s software isn’t locating the modem. Sounds bad. Stan has a third-party service contract on all his equipment, and decides to ask the warranty company for help.
Gary calls. His internal 56k modem won’t disconnect the phone line after logging off from his ISP connection. I suggest a few diagnostic checks, which he does, with no success. Gary generously offers to trade me his old sofa for my old Performa 636CD, which has a perfectly-working Supra 33.6k external modem. I accept, because I’m now using a blazing-fast 7200/120 and Global Village 56k external modem, and I don’t need the Performa. We make a date for Wednesday to do the physical barter exchange. I tell Gary to look for firmware/ROM and software updaters at the Apple website, because he’s using OS 8.1 now, an upgrade from the operating system that shipped with his 6500.
Molly calls. She’s a freelance journalist whose Mac won’t start. It gets stuck halfway through the icon parade at the bottom of her startup screen sequence. She tries doing a CD startup, zapping the PRAM, and starting with Extensions Off. No dice. She repeatedly gets trapped with the warning message about her computer not being shut off properly, but nothing happens when she tries to click the “Okay” button. Molly is in a panic, because she is moving from Tucson to Texas on Friday! I tell her to get the 6500 ready for the movers and order a G3 PowerBook we have been discussing for over a year. She groans, gets out her MacConnection catalog, and orders the PowerBook.
Stan calls. The service guy is at his house, having finished installing a new 33.6k modem, and he still can’t get the computer to recognize his modem. I speak to the service tech, who is NOT a Macintosh guy whatsoever. I groan, and ask to speak to Stan again. I tell him to call the manager of the service company and ask for a REAL Mac tech next time, but which had better be very soon!
LATER TUESDAY AFTERNOON
Gary calls. Everything appears to be okay with the new modem firmware/ROM he downloaded and installed. I suggest he also locate and update his Apple software modem drivers.
Gary shows up at my house with the sofa in his pickup truck. It looks great on our patio. We initialize the hard disk on the Performa and then do an Easy Install of OS 8.1, which works great. Gary is grinning as he drives home with my old computer, monitor, modem, and printer. Barbara, my wife, is grinning as she reclines on her “new” sofa.
WEDNESDAY LATE MORNING
Airborne delivers Molly’s Kensington USB Mouse-in-a-Box to my house because Molly has vacated her Tucson house and is staying with a relative for a couple of days before departing for Texas. The delivery guy looks clueless when I ask why the mouse arrived and not the PowerBook. He says he’ll check with his supervisor.
WEDNESDAY LUNCH TIME
I eat lunch. The Airborne guy calls saying they found the missing PowerBook. He’ll bring it in an hour or two. I call Molly, who is now nearly apoplectic.
Molly shows up at my house and admires her new mouse. Airborne brings the G3 PowerBook 233, including a complimentary VST Zip Drive. I install AppleWorks 5.0.3 and Retrospect Express 4.1 for Molly, activate her existing AOL service, set her browser preferences, restore her Retrospect Express backed-up files from Zip disks, and play around with the amazing G3/PB. I wish I owned one, but I will have to wait a looooooong time for such a miracle to occur.
Stan calls. A different non-Mac tech is at his house, attempting to replace the logic board on his 6500. I tell him not to murder the service guy, but just send him back to Phoenix. I suggest Stan gathers his facts and wits, and write a scathing letter to the president of the warranty company. Stan is now extremely irate and heads over to Simutek, a local Apple-certified service center, to get his #+%* computer and modem fixed and send the bill to the incompetent service company.
Gary calls. His “new” Performa works great, but now the 6500 can’t communicate with its modem. I tell him the saga of Stan, and suggest Gary also pay a visit to Simutek for a new 56k modem, preferably external this time.
Molly calls from her car, on her way out of town. She loves her G3 PowerBook and can’t believe it took her so long to buy one. When the 6500 is repaired in Texas she will give it to her son.
Gary sends me an email message. He went to MacStuff in Tucson, not Simutek, and learned how to disable and disconnect his internal 56k Apple modem. He is temporarily using my old Supra modem with the 6500 until he decides which 56k modem to purchase. Gary is very happy.
Stan sends me an email message. He just returned from Simutek with his 6500 and new internal 56k modem, which works perfectly, except he can only connect at 24k. I tell him to ask Simutek for help, because he just paid them a bunch of $$$ for a working 56k modem.
Molly calls. She arrived safely in Texas, and hopes the moving company lost or dropped her desktop 6500 Mac CPU.
Barbara and I go to our local farmer’s market and buy some tasty organic Arizona apples. Then we go for a swim at the community center pool, eat the apples for lunch, and sow lettuce seeds in our winter-spring garden. I fire up my Power Mac 7200 and get ready to prepare my Nemo Memo for the editors here at My Mac Magazine, before our Monday deadline.
Molly calls, just before bedtime. Her family is starting to settle into their new house. Her son wants to use the 6500. She tells him it is not working. He pleads. Out of frustration she sets it up and presses the power key. The Mac is able to start up! What should she do? “Run Norton Disk Doctor from the CD,” I advise, “until it says No Problems Found, then reformat the hard disk with Drive Setup before installing OS 8.5 + 8.6.” Molly laughs and asks if simply unplugging the sick Mac or moving it a thousand miles from Tucson was the magic bullet. I laugh and say if the 6500 hadn’t died she wouldn’t now be the proud owner of that amazing G3 PowerBook.
I went to bed. What would tomorrow bring?
MORE ON THE SUBJECT
Remember Stan, the guy with the defective 56k internal modem for his 6500, and the worthless service contract? Here is Susan’s (his mother) version of the entire scenario, with choice words on service contracts, to embellish the preceding narrative:
-In May, Stan’s computer began making funny noises and the modem quit working. We called the insurance company and with the usual waits on hold, actually got it serviced pretty quickly. They replaced a fan and something else and the computer worked, but not the modem. Stan left for summer camp and we decided to ignore the problem until he returned.
-In August, we called the insurance company again and told them the modem wasn’t working. They said we had to go back to OS 7.5 and reinstall that. This part gets tricky. I told them we did and that the modem still wasn’t working. So they sent out a repairman and he replaced the modem. It still wasn’t working, but he told me he was just a hardware man and that he didn’t do software.
-This is where we called Nemo and he told the tech guy it didn’t need 7.5, but his people kept telling you it did. He left and I called the insurance company back. I told them what you told me, and they insisted I had to take it back to 7.5. I said I didn’t agree and asked to speak to a supervisor. Mark hung up on me. I called back and was told there were no supervisors–they were in a meeting. I left a message, but a supervisor never called me back.
-Every time you call, you have to wait on hold to talk to an operator who listens to your story and then puts you back on hold to talk to a tech. Any time you call, it takes at least a half hour to complete your business.
-Exasperated, I finally called back and told them we had taken it back to 7.5 and the modem still didn’t work. I was told they’d authorize a new logic board. I waited 2 weeks (allowing time for them to order it). I called back and was told a new logic board was never ordered so I was transferred to a service tech. However, it was an IBM tech, so I had to start the entire process over and finally got to talk to somebody names John, who 2 weeks before said he’d order the new logic board. He checked his records and said it had never been ordered. No explanation, no apology, it simply wasn’t ordered.
-A few days later, the same tech installed a new logic board and the modem still didn’t work.
-I gave up and took it to Simutek. There, Cory said the logic board had been improperly installed. He said the computer was missing some software to “talk” to the modem and he installed it. We had them add 64 megs of memory and bought a 56k modem.
-The computer works great, except it won’t talk to the printer. Stan just discovered that, so I have to call Simutek and figure out how to make it work. We “chose” the printer, but it still won’t talk to it. Before it went to Simutek, it was talking to the printer, so I’m guessing some software needs to be accessed or something.
-A couple of thoughts. If the insurance company knew what it was doing it could have hooked up the modem correctly in the first place. Instead of automatically sending someone to replace hardware, if they authorized you to take it to a reputable service facility, they could check stuff like software and get it working. It may not have needed a new modem at all. I would NEVER get an extended warranty again that didn’t allow me to take it to Simutek or MacStuff. I’d get the Apple extended warranty so I could do that. When the monitor died, they had me do a few things over the phone then simply sent a new one. It was under the original warranty then.
Thanks, and good luck to Stan and Susan!