As much as I love my Apple products – currently an iPhone, a MacBook Pro and an iPod Nano – my recent experiences with Apple have made me think twice about whether I will continue to patronize Apple in the future.
My iPhone 3GS is finally jailbroken, and I’m just awaiting the unlock hack for the 05.14.02 baseband, which will finally allow me to use the phone with my Israeli simcard. But right now I’m not worrying about my iPhone – I’m just focusing on my MacBook ProBlems.
As you might remember, on the day I immigrated to Israel, the screen of my three-week-old MacBook Pro screen mysteriously shattered with a spider web of cracks on its left side. I held off on fixing it because a.) I didn’t really have much spare time as a new immigrant to Israel and b.) I had decided I was going to return home for my friend Michelle’s wedding on October 24 – so why not head to a real Apple Store then? Israel only has the company iDigital, an authorized Apple dealer owned by Shimon Peres’s son, and the closest actual Apple store in the region is in Jordan.
During my brief weekend home for the wedding, it felt like I spent the majority of my time in Menlo Park, N.J.’s Apple Store. While extraordinarily nice and helpful, the representatives there repeatedly informed me that physical damage is not covered under the AppleCare insurance plan and that I would need to pay them $700 to fix the screen. An added problem – they could not do the fix in three days.
So the mangled MacBook checked back into my Continental Airlines flight with me and returned to Jerusalem. And on Wednesday last week, we headed west to iDigital’s only repair facility in Israel – in the largely industrialized city of Petah Tikvah. While iDigital has two other stores – one in Tel Aviv’s hopping Dizengoff Center and another in nearby Ramat Gan, neither of those locations deal with repairs, unlike Apple Stores in the US. You must take your broken Mac products to the repair facilities on your own.
For NIS 24 each way, I took the Egged 947 bus from Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station to Ganim Junction in Petah Tikvah, on the outskirts of the city. Thanks to my roommate’s recommendations, I knew to then jump on the Kavim 27 bus into town, at the Ganim Junction stop located on Herzog Street, just across Road 40 from where I had gotten off of the Egged inter-city bus.
The Kavim local bus stop had a digitized countdown screen for individual bus arrivals (Egged really needs to get on this in Jerusalem, as does the MTA in New York – well, they’ve started I suppose), and luckily my bus was due in 10 minutes. I jumped on the #27 for NIS 4.60 ($1.50) each way, and took the bus nearly to the end of its route, to Shenkar 13.
En route, we passed by Teva Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithKline and every other drug and electronics factory warehouse that you’d expect to see along the Garden State Parkway.
I stepped off the bus and peeked at my map to orient myself toward my destination, HaMif'alim 9, the surprisingly unimpressive home of the iDigital laboratories. Tiptoeing through a street corner lined with garbage – and cats eating out of said garbage – I saw a few signs directing me around the corner to iDigital’s home. Again, there were no impressive glass cubes hovering over Fifth Avenue, just a fenced-in parking lot and a tiny sign to identify the home base of Israel’s Apple warehouse.
But rest assured, deep within the dumpy recesses of Petah Tikvah’s industrial zone, I was able to find two incredibly jappy (Jewish American Princess) female students – tight leggings, Oxford button-downs , perfect manicures, Westchester accent and all – requesting a computer fix while remaining completely clueless to any questions asked of them.
While one clerk dealt with these girls, another briefly assessed my machine, and informed me that the repair would be about NIS 3,000 ($790) plus a NIS 400 ($120) charge for an hour’s worth of labor, altogether just a bit above the estimate Apple had given me in New Jersey. Though I clearly couldn’t afford either price, I had no choice but to agree to the repair because I can’t really live my life as a journalist properly without a functioning computer, and the crack was only continuing to spread across the screen.
Luckily, the next day, I received a phone call from the technician that the part was going to cost NIS 2346 ($602), as opposed to the original NIS 3,000 estimate, which now ended up significantly lower than Apple’s own price. Again, still entirely unaffordable, but I had absolutely no choice in the matter.
Today, after a surprisingly quick repair, I was able to return to Petah Tikvah to pick up my rescued machine, and this trip – like the first – was rather painless (aside from the money involved).
My biggest complaint occurred not at the iDigital store, but back at Ganim Junction where I was waiting (for at least 30 minutes) to get on my return bus to Jerusalem. A minibus labeled "RamlaLod" in Hebrew pulled up to the bus station area to let some of its pre-adolescent passengers off, and as the vehicle rolled away, some of its passengers thought that spraying both me and the few people around me with some unidentified warm liquid would be funny. Hysterical, apparently, as I could still hear their laughter down the street.
Let's just say it didn't smell quite like water. But maybe that's just my imagination.
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