Three days ago, my "boss" brought in a Power Mac G4 that he says has $10,000 worth of software on it that he uses for video/audio recording and editing. The problem?
It won't power up.
That's usually a very cut and dry case. Most of the time, it's a power supply. Otherwise, it's almost always the mainboard. It's pretty rare to run into something like a stick of RAM or a hard drive that's shorting it out and preventing it from turning on completely.
So I start digging around for replacement power supplies on the web. The machine is old, so I'm not exactly expecting a difficult time finding a replacement.
For those of you that don't know, the G4 power supplies used a 22-pin, ATX brick instead of a standard 20 or 24-pin ATX brick that's used in normal desktop PC's. The odd thing about this is that the moulding for the first 20 pins on this power supply are exactly the same as the desktop PC power supply. They're wired differently though, so a standard desktop one isn't going to work.
Anyway, searching around, I find these power supplies "new" ranging from $100-$350...for the same wattage.
Easy enough right? Buy the $100 and be done with it.
Not so fast.
Y'see...experience has shown me that if you have a part with a humongous price range like that, the ones on the lower and upper ends are probably not going to be what you're looking for.
Ok, still easy. Buy the middle of the road one and be done with it.
Not so fast again...
Seeing this price range pretty much made me start dreading what was next.
I had to call Apple and find out for sure. Usually a manufacturer's price on a part is a good indication of where third party manufacturers are going to fall in terms of price. Apple's website is useless when it comes to hardware support. They want to speak to you via telephone and troubleshoot your issues. You can't just call to get a price on something apparently unless you call one of their retail stores.
Unlucky for me, all of their retail stores don't open until I'm already tied up doing a ton of other things.
I make an appointment for an apple rep to call me between 10:30-10:45AM yesterday morning. 11:45 rolls around and still no call. I leave here for the day to do the work for my business and I come in this morning to a message from an Apple Rep that was left at 3:45 yesterday afternoon.
The message stated:
Hi, this is Amber from Apple calling you regarding case #: #########. I understand you are having issues getting the machine to turn on. If you wouldn't mind, can you please unseat and re-seat the memory in the machine, then call us back at the number provided in your case email please? Thank you and have a great day.
Not because the suggestion wasn't a legit one, but because that's not what I was asking for.
For the type of issue, I selected "Other" and proceeded to explain that I was not looking for technical support, I simply wanted to know the price of the power supply for this computer itself.
So...calling them back this morning, I probably should have just told my "boss" to get a new mac.
The lady I got this morning apparently failed english. Horribly.
She was by far the worst tech support rep I've ever spoken to and I've been doing computer repair services for over 12 years. I can't begin to illustrate how bad her english was through text, so for the following conversation, just assume she's very hard to understand. Also understand this conversation went on for a LOT longer than the text will imply. I literally had to ask her to repeat herself 3-4 times each time she spoke.
Apple Rep(AR): Thank you for calling Apple, may I have your case ID please?
(What was the point of putting the case number in to an automated service if I was just going to have to say it again?)
AR: Ok, one moment while I look up your information.
AR: Ok, I see you cannot get the machine to turn on.
Q: Right. I need to know the price of the power supply.
AR: Did you re-seat the memory?
Q: Yes. I need to know the price of the power supply. It's Apple P/N is: ###-####.
AR: The machine still will not turn on?
Q: No. I've already done all the troubleshooting, I know it's the power supply.
AR: I'm sorry, can you clarify which part again?
Q: Power supply.
AR: Did you try a different power cable?
AR: When you say 'power source', are you referring to the wall socket?
Q: I did not say 'source', I said 'supply'. The internal box with all the cables that plug into the various parts of the computer.
AR: Are you referring to the part the power cable plugs into?
AR: Did you try a different power source?
Q: Yes, I tried a different power supply and it fired up.
AR: Ok, let me put you on hold while I find out some more information.
5 minutes later.
AR: Ok, sorry for the hold. I am still unclear what you are needing. You need another power source?
Q: I need the internal power supply. Emphasis on, 'internal'.
AR: I'm sorry, if it works with a different power source, you should leave it plugged into that power source.
Q: That power supply belongs to another computer.
AR: I'm sorry, we do not sell wall socket supplies.
........... x infinity
Q: THIS FIVE YEAR OLD POWER MAC G4 HAS A BAD POWER SUPPLY - POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUPPLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY - IN IT. I NEED TO KNOW HOW MUCH IT COSTS FOR A REPLACEMENT!
AR: I'm so---
Q: I'M NOT DUMB ENOUGH TO CALL A TECH SUPPORT CENTER OVER A BUSTED WALL OUTLET. DID YOU HAPPEN TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE PART NUMBER I GAVE YOU? DID YOU HAPPEN TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE PHRASE "I'VE USED ANOTHER POWER SUPPLY"
Q: IT'S THE SILVER BOX ON THE INSIDE - NOT OUTSIDE IN A WALL OR NOT OUTSIDE REFERRING TO A BLACK CABLE - INSIDE THE COMPUTER ITSELF THAT HAS A LOT OF LITTLE RED, YELLOW, ORANGE, AND BLACK CABLES COMING OUT OF IT.
AR: Oh, the internal P.S.U.
(Deep Breath...keep it together Q...)
AR: I'm sorry, we do not sell those directly to the public.
Q: Can I speak to your manager?
AR: One moment please.
(Five minutes later)
Apple Call Center Manager: May I help you?
Q: Fire her.
So yeah. At some point in the near future, I'll blurb about where I ended up actually getting the power supply.