Apple Says My Screen Is Third Party

I have always had the utmost respect for Apple. Even before I used Macs and before the iPhone came out, I knew they were a top notch company.

I have had five iPhones. I have had 6 or 7 MacBook Pros. My kids have Macs. My kids have iPhones. My parents use iPads. I think a lot of Apple products and service... until today.

We took my daughter's hand me down iPhone 5 in to have the ear piece and top button fixed. It's been in the family the whole time. It was never owned by anyone other than family. Last year, I took it in for the Apple Store Battery Replacement Program. That is the last time anyone had it open. In fact, that may have been the last time it was out of its case. More on this later.

After we dropped off the phone today, we were told it was going to be an hour. No problem, we could kill some time. We came back an hour later and the person brought us the phone out and tells us that they refused to work on it because the screen is a 3rd party part. Whoa! What? I tell her that the only place it was ever worked on was in that exact store. She goes to get a manager. I thought, OK, the Apple customer service I know and love is about to kick in. They are going to realize their mistake and this will all be good. Or, even if they still think it's a 3rd party screen, he will come up with some resolution for the problem. Um, no.

He says the same thing (almost verbatim) to me that the previous person said. I again tell him it has only been opened by them. He offers to take it to the back and have a technician open it up again. He was not really gone long enough for that. He comes back, points at some things on the screen and tells me that is how they know it's a 3rd party part. I again, tell him that only the Apple Store has had it open. His response is a carefully crafted piece of technicality that can only come from lawyers and businessmen. It was along the lines of "At some point, this screen has been replaced with a 3rd party screen. I am not saying you are lying. I am not claiming to know how it was replaced. I am only stating that this is a 3rd party screen." What?

So, OK, what now? I mean, it wasn't under warranty. I did not expect to get a new free phone. I was going to pay to have it fixed. Nope. They won't touch it with a ten foot pole. It has a 3rd party part on it. He claims, that because they base their repair fees on being able to refurbish and reuse the parts they pull off of the phone (the phone I own and paid for by the way), they can't offer to repair a phone with parts they can't refurbish. I can't even pay full price, whatever that is. He never gave me a price to pay for a new screen with no discounts.

At this point, I realized I needed to leave. I was so furious. I was furious it was happening. I was furious that the manager had no solution for me. I was furious that he was speaking in legalese.

Just to be clear, I could buy my daughter a new iPhone 6. I am not trying to get something for nothing. I just wanted the phone to work again. One of the things I love about Apple products is how well they hold up. Sure, you have to have some work done on them sometimes. Batteries go bad. Buttons quit working. But, let's be real. My daughter uses this thing for hours a day. I have the data bill to prove it. So, I like that I can have an Apple product repaired when it breaks and it gets a longer life. The alternative is to throw it away.

How did I end up here? I can only come up with one scenario. And the thought that this is what happened upsets me even more. When we took it for the battery replacement last year, they kept it longer than their initial estimate. And the store was dead that day. When they brought it out, the case would not fit on the bottom of the phone. It was like the screen was not on all the way. The person took it back to the back again. They came out later and it seemed to work fine. And I was fine with all of this because it's Apple. I trust(ed) Apple. But, what if, they broke the screen? What if the tech that broke it was used a screen from some returned phone that did have a third party part and no one caught it? Or what if, Apple was knowingly using third party parts?

If I had not just had the battery replaced last year, I would think maybe there was some shenanigans in the shipping when the phone was new. We bought this phone brand new when the iPhone 5 came out. It would not come as a surprise if some devices had been intercepted and taken apart along the shipping lines. Or even in production. But, we just had it serviced at the Apple Store last year. They had no problem with the screen then other than the one they caused when they had to put it back together a second time.

This all sounds too far fetched right? Sadly, there seems to be a trend of Apple denying service to people. All of these people can't be lying. They can't all be out to get one over on Apple.

While waiting for our appointment, I overheard an Apple Genius telling a woman she "may" have had water damage. She didn't tell her she did. She did not claim the woman was lying. She thought she "may" have water damage. I don't know if she did or not. What struck me was the way she told her she "thought it could be" water damage. She told her she had seen lots of bad screens, but none of them (really? not one single screen?) had vertical lines in it like this. It's like she was setting her up to come back later and say "Darn, the tech says it is water damage." Sadly, I find myself doubting that conversation now. It makes me want to take a phone in with horizontal lines and see if I get the same story.

Of course, I know what many, many people will say to this. You will say that if I am really this upset, I should not buy anymore Apple products. And you are right. That is the American way. The free market is the way to get to companies. The thing is, if I bought a Samsung Galaxy, where would I get it fixed? Would my experience be any better? There is not Samsung store. There are no Authorized Samsung repair facilities. So, what would that get me? A disposable phone? Maybe that is what Apple wants. Maybe that is their goal. Deny service to people in hopes it will lead to more sales and less long term use of their devices.

And you know what makes this all even more crappy? One of the reasons he says he knows it is a third party screen is that the home button is lose. It wasn't lose when we brought it in! I was using the phone myself to make sure a back up was done just before we handed it over to the Apple Store. They did that when they opened the screen and decided it was a third pary part. So, now, my daughter's phone not only has no working ear piece and a top button that works only some of the time. Now, her home button spins around. Sigh.

What is the problem? AT&T or Apple?

So, I told you how AT&T messed up my account when I ordered the new iPhone.  Well, I go the new one on Friday via FedEx.  I then left for Velocity in San Jose, CA on Sunday.  The phone was not activated when I left.  So, I had to take my old iPhone and my new iPhone 3GS with me.  Grrrr.  On top of that, I had to keep them both on me because afaik, as soon as the new one started working, the old one would not.  Double Grrrrrr.

I was blaming AT&T for this over and over.  I tried calling them on Saturday and the guy on the phone said he was instructed to tell me to go to an AT&T store or an Apple Store.  I did not have time to find an AT&T store.  I tried the Apple store as we were having dinner right near it.  But, the wait was an hour!!! Triple Grrrrrrr. 

So, on Sunday night, I got this email from Apple:
Dear Apple Customer,

Thank you for your recent Apple Store order. We appreciate your patience and apologize for the inconvenience caused by the delay in your iPhone activation.

We are still resolving the issue that was encountered while activating your iPhone with AT&T. Unfortunately, due to system issues and continued high activation volumes, this could take us up to an additional 48 hours to complete.

On Monday, you'll receive an email from Apple with an iTunes Store credit in the amount of $30. We hope you will enjoy this gift and accept our sincere apologies for the inconvenience this delay has caused.

Thank you for choosing Apple.

Apple Online Store Team
So, whose fault is this?  Is it Apple or AT&T?  I had been assuming AT&T all along.  But, Apple is giving me the credit.

On Monday morning, at about 11:30CDT, my phone was activated.  That is about 62 hours after I hooked it up to iTunes.  The phone is great. 

I guess I should listen to Louis CK says and just be happy that the future is here and quit bitching.

AT&T is a bleepity bleeping bleep

So, on June 19th, the new iPhone comes out. I have a first generation iPhone.  I have loved it.  My area is not well covered by 3G so I did not bother upgrading.  But, my two year contract is up next month and just the other day I dropped and cracked my iPhone screen.  So, this is a good time to upgrade.

I ordered my new phone via the Apple web site.  It took me through a wizard that checked my AT&T account and showed me the options for upgrading.  That all went smooth.  This all took place on Thursday, June 11, 2009.  Well, at 11AM on Saturday, June 13th, something happened to my account.  On my account are 4 phones.  Mine, my wifes and my two oldest kids.  My daughter says from the back seat (did I mention we are on our way to the beach for a week?) "That took them long enough.  I got a welcome text from AT&T."  She has had her phone since Christmas.  Later I noticed I had no data connection.  Just bars.  I was getting calls.  Then later my wife commented that no one was returning her SMS messages.  So, we tried sending some to each other.  Nothing. My son sees he got a welcome SMS too. OMG, wtf did AT&T do?!?!?!?

We are driving (I mentioned that I think) and have time on our hands, so my wife calls them about it all.  Sure enough, they claim that "someone" removed our family unlimited text message plan from the account.  Well, that someone would be AT&T.  See, I had reduced my iPhone to the lower plan a while back because I was getting the family unlimited text messaging plan when I added my kids phones.  But, the new iPhone only has one data plan available.  It's a $30/month unlimited data plan.  Apparently, me changing the data plan for the new iPhone that is not even shipped yet removed all text messaging for my whole family.  The lady claims to have it fixed so we hang up.

Time passes and I still don't have and EDGE connection.  My daughter tries to send a MMS picture and is blocked. We call back.  Apparently the brilliant person my wife talked to the first time added a pay per SMS feature and NO MMS OR DATA!  ARGHHH!!!!  We tell the lady, "Look, just put it back like it was on the last bill."  That worked, we were happy with that.  A few minutes later I had data and we could send pictures again.

So, you would think it is over.  But, apparently I don't have voice mail.  And now I am really wondering what will happen when I activate my new iPhone this week.  Be thinking about me as I am sure it will hose my account again.  And I leave town on Sunday to attend Velocity

Please, please, two years from now, when my contract is up, please let Verizon have the iPhone.  Our accounts payable people at dealnews don't like their billing practices, but I have never had a customer service issue with them and their network is the best ever.

Some interesting things to note:
  1. You can't buy or activate an iPhone without a data plan.  But, clearly they had mine working without one.
  2. They turned off SMS for my whole family, but, the first thing my kids got after they turned it off was an SMS that I bet they would have charged us for.
  3. We could not send MMS at all for our whole account after the new iPhone was purchased.  It is well known that AT&T is not allowing MMS on the new iPhone yet.  Guess they control this at the account level?

Amazon MP3 Store has holes

A coworker found out how secure Amazon's MP3 store is.  Even big guys like Amazon make errors in their web site security.
So, I clicked purchase and the album immediately started downloading. It was at this point that I had the thought cross my mind: "Did I update my credit card info?"

Well, no, I didn't. Before the album finished downloading, I was trying to change the method of payment. Turns out, for a digital purchase, you can't do such a thing. So, I waited and wondered was was going to come of this...

Sleeping with an iPhone

You know those NyQuil commercials where the guy tells his wife "You will sleep like you did before you had kids."  Well, that is so true.  Before I had kids I laid my head down, slept and then rose in the morning fresh.  I only needed about 5 hours sleep.  But, after I had kids and started worrying about them all night long, I could not do that.  I can still do it when I am away from home which is odd.

Now, after all this time with kids (I have 5 in case you don't know) they hardly ever wake in the middle of the night.  But, my mind is conditioned to wake on the slightest noise.  We moved out into a quieter (aka more rural) part of the state 3 years ago.  Hardly any traffic on the road late at night.  I find myself waking at the slightest noise: the icemaker, a dog barking, our dog getting up and stretching, or that very rare car.

So, after a restless night, I got the kids up and ready for school at 6AM like usual.  But, I was determined to get some more sleep.  So, I stuck in my ear buds and turned on my iPhone's iPod.  While it was not solid uninterrupted  sleep, it was better than what I had all night.  I need to find some soft music or soothing sounds that will run for several hours.  That may provide the best sleep.  That and some more comfortable earbuds for sleeping.  It is either that or take down our nice quiet Hunter ceiling fan and get the cheapest, loudest one I can find.  That always worked in our older houses.

MacBreak missing a demographic

I listen to the MacBreak Weekly podcast every week.  I have liked Leo Laporte ever since The ScreenSaver days.  He has several good regulars on the show and mixes in topical guests as well.  However, I think there is a demographic of Mac user that the show is missing.

There is a growing audience of new Mac users in the tech sector.  Just to the O'Reilly Open Source Conference and take a count.  Mac OS X and the switch to the Intel platform has brought about the most stable, easy to use *nix based desktops and laptops the world has ever seen.  I was a long time Windows user.  I made fun of Mac users.  I even ran Linux on a Dell laptop for a while.  Boy, that was fun.  Nothing like waking up and having to edit X configurations so you can work.  Apple just got it right.  I can run my AMP stack on my MacBook Pro with no problems.  And the Mac UI is wonderful.  I am becoming a fan boy.

So, on this weeks MBW, Leo and the panel were talking about Leopard.  The subject came up about the best new feature for home users, power users and mac software developers.  There was neither anyone on the show that fit into my demographic of Mac user nor did anyone mention us.  No mention of Apache 2.2 or PHP 5.2.  No mention of a much improved  No mention of a built in SSH Agent that works with your keychain.  If you work with Linux/BSD server, you use Terminal almost as much as any other application.

So, Leo, please include this growing Mac demographic into your discussions.  There has to be someone out there in our space that is as knowledgable as Andy Ihnatko and Scott Bourne are about their topics.  Merlin comes close when he is there, but I think he is still and old school Mac user that happens to have gotten into the geekier parts of Mac OS X.

Still, love the show.  Keep up the good work.

My editor of choice

So, I was listening to the Pro PHP Podcast on the way home from work today.  They were talking about Komodo a lot.  I figured I would give my favorite editor a plug.  Believe it or not, it's jEdit.

I keep trying all the latest and greatest editors out there.  I fought with Eclipse and have tried the newer more PHP centric offerings built on Eclipse.  I recently tried out Komodo Edit for a week.  I had tried the Komodo IDE when it came out for Mac a while back.  But, I just keep coming back to jEdit.

What I like about it

The main thing that I like about jEdit over the other top contenders of the new generation is that it has a simple file browser.  It does not have the concept of "projects".  Eclipse and Komodo both have these concepts.  But, when I really got to looking at the projects in Komodo, you basically set a point in your filesystem and tell it that everything in this dir is Project Foo.  So, really, you have to have your code organized on disk anyway.  It also bugged me (in Komodo Edit at least) that my project file had to live in the same dir with my project's code.  That just seemed awkward.  Not everyone that shares my SVN is gonna want that and its gonna be sitting there in my svn status as an unknown file.

Another thing I like about jEdit is the rather large plugin repository.  Now, it's an older project, so that is something that you would hope any established application would have.  But, if I am thinking about switching today, I have to give the nod to jEdit here.  The list is a bit Java-centric of course.  It's a Java application after all.  But, there are some good ones in there like a PHP code structure browser.  I can't live without that.  Makes finding functions or methods really easy in large libraries.

What I don't like

Its Java so its not quite like working with a native application.  The dialogs are funny and the UI is just a bit off even with the Mac plugin that makes it more Mac looking.  Having said that, I don't want a truly "Mac like" editor.  BBEdit and XCode are not my kind of editors.  I like tabbed interfaces vs. multi windowed UIs.

Its not an IDE, its an editor.  There is no debugging, at least, not easily.  There looks to be some ability to hook in debugging tools, but I have not gone through the trouble.  Of course, that could be said of many of the IDEs out there.  PHP has never had the ease of debugging that say Visual Basic had (still has?) back in 1998 when that was my full time job.  That was one thing about VB I loved.  The language was "eh".  But the IDE was really nice.

Things I don't care about that you might

jEdit does not have an SVN plugin that I can find.  I like my command line.  I know one coworker is addicted to the Eclipse real time SVN diff highlighting.  There is a CVS plugin, but I don't know how good it is.  I am not aware of any PHP code completion, but it may be there.  I have an odd knack for remembering stuff like that and those little pop ups just annoy me.  Oh, and did I mention its Java?  That put me off for a long time.  But, it won me over. is hiring

From our jobs page:

As a dealnews web developer, you will help maintain our current stable of deal and price-tracking web sites, and build new features and new web sites as we continue to grow. You'll be part of a small, fast-moving team of developers that are involved at every stage of product development, from concept to rollout.

We use Gentoo, Apache, PHP and MySQL.   While that does not need to be your expertise, it is a plus.  We have a little Perl and Python thrown in as well.  You will need to code on a non-Windows system as we run our development environment on our local machines.  Currently, we all use Macs.

A big plus, however, is disc golf.  We play weekly as an um, team building excercise. Yeah, team building.

OSCON 2006

Well, I am back from OSCON 2006. Portland is a really nice city. I hope they keep this conference there forever. I hosted a BoF on memcached. That was fun. There were a lot of people there. I did not expect that. They had something this year that was either new or I had not seen before. It was called OSCAMP. They fall below a BoF in terms of plans and organization. A neat idea. You just go in the room, post on the wall what you are interested in and what time you will be back to talk about it. Other folks show up and you kick it. No approval, no rules. I tried to set one up, but I got in there too late to get my topic noticed.

Rasmus Lerdorf gave a good talk about debugging PHP and making your life easy when using PHP. His title was different, but that was what I took from it. I was glad to see someone near the top of the PHP food chain say that speed matters to him. Having him work at Yahoo! helps too.

As usual, Robert "r0ml" Lefkowitz was great. His keynote compared Open Source to vegetables. He is a great speaker.

I did not have a epiphany at this conference. It's still good to go. There will not always be something to blow you away every time you go to one of these things. It was good to just get away and hob nob with other open source developers.