Yesterday, I reported that I'd taken my MacBook to my local Apple Store and been told it would probably take a week to ten days to fix it. That didn't sound great, but it wasn't an outrage, either. (Actually, I'm leaving on a trip tomorrow, one I don't need the MacBook for, so I wasn't in a tearing hurry to get it back--I was more concerned with whether the repair job would indeed end the system's mysterious habit of shutting itself down without warning.)
Today. I got an unexpected call from someone at the store, telling me that because my system had already received a new motherboard, and that surgery had taken 18 days (and had failed to stop the shutdowns) I was entitled to simply get a new MacBook.
I asked if I could have the hard drive from my old machine swapped into the new one; he said yes. And this evening I picked up the replacement system, which, so far, is running fine.
Now, it did occur to me that if you've got a blog at PCWorld.com and are in the habit of blogging your customer support issues as they happen, it's possible that someone at a company you do business with (oh, like Apple) might notice, intervene, and resolve things in your favor. I have no evidence that that's what happened, though, and I've seen messages on user forums from other flaky MacBook owners who got new systems either automatically or when they specifically asked. So I hope that Apple voluntarily giving me a new computer after I'd agreed to send the old one back to the shop is simply an example of the kind of service they'd give anyone in my situation.
(I generally try, by the way, to avoid situations in which companies I've bought stuff from might be temtped to treat me like a prince because I work for PC World. I do that in part for selfish reasons: We get a lot of our best story ideas when things go wrong with stuff we buy and use ourselves. I like having opportunities to experience the real, unvarnished world of customer support.)
Oh, in answer to the questions posed by PCWorld.com member Megalomaniac in the comments section of my last post: I bought this MacBook the day the notebook was announced at a local store. which would make it a very early unit. (Most often, hardware we review is on loan from the manufacturer, but in some cases, such as this one, we evaluate stuff we've bought at retail. In this particular instance, I'd been in the market for an Intel-based Mac notebook that would let me run both OS X and Windows, so I simply plunked down my own cash.)
At the time I wrote my original review, it had shown no signs of trouble, so I didn't mention the shutdown issue. Enough reports of it have popped up on user forums that it's safe to say some percentage of MacBook users are having problems, but it's still unclear how common it is; when we conduct our next Reliability and Service survey, which will be the first to incorporate reports on the MacBook and MacBook Pros, I'll be intrigued to see if there's any evidence that Intel-based Mac notebooks are any more prone to defects than any other laptop.