Watch Me Take The Bar
Watch Me Take The Bar
This blog, originally started as a chronicle of my taking the bar, is now a look into the mind of an attorney in solo practice in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Friday, June 30, 2006

Rotten Apple

Yesterday, I spent considerable amounts of time trying to get a problem fixed which was clearly (a) not my fault, (b) in need of fixing, (c) someone else's job to fix, which duty to fix was admitted by those with the duty to fix. Instead, I ended up feeling frustrated and at wit's end.

And this was AFTER I spent the day in a seminar on how the system treats battered women.

OK. Here's the story. As faithful readers of this Blog know, I am possessed of an iPod, which are those little things you see people carrying around with earbuds sprouting from their ears. A truly marvelous invention, the iPod can be connected in my car, or is portable enough to go, well, anywhere with.

So, all was well in Michaelville, especially when I started driving a borrowed BMW (see this entry), which has a tape deck which easy connectivity to one's iPod.

One day, shortly before Memorial Day, I went to put on a particular song and my iPod froze. The LED backlight remained on, and the song just froze.

No amount of my tears or piety could unfreeze the thing, or turn off the LED backlight for the longest time. I finally did get it to restart (after something like an hour and a half), at which point, it said the battery was extremely low.

So, I brough the iPod home, plugged it into the wall, and started charging it again.

My iPod duly charged, I went outside with it and listened to about twelve songs before it hit the same exact problem. I recharged it, took it out on Memorial Day, and got it to freeze again.

This was unacceptable.

So, I went online. I tried everything suggested online. Clearly, a living, breathing human being was needed.

Having heard other people's horror stories about trying to call in for help with Apple support, I decided I'd rather just visit an Apple store. Unfortunately, there are no Apple stores near this blogger; rather, there is one in Novi, Michigan (two and a half hours north) and one in Columbus, Ohio (two and a half hours south.) I have had the good fortune recently to have a pleasant reason to spend time north of the border anyway, so last Sunday, I traveled to Novi (together with the Pleasant Reason, who lives somewhat south of there.)

OK, so, we got to the Twelve Oaks Mall, and found the Apple store. There, we were met by a tech. I should take a detour here and tell you that none of Apple's employees wear nametags. None. I think this is so you can't hunt them down at their house and drown them out with the silence from your non-functioning iPod.

So, first, John started to try to sell me AppleCare. For only 64 bucks, I could have Apple service my iPod for free. I pointed out that was what my warranty was for, and since I bought it last August, it seemed to me that was their job. John went off the serial number on the back of the iPod, and advised me that indeed, I was correct, my warranty did not expire until August 13, so it was pointless for me to buy AppleCare at this point (although I would need to do so before August 13.)

Good, John. Fix my iPod.

John suggested I do such things as charge the battery (done) and other inanities. I advised him I had done all of the "five R's" that Apple recommends for troubleshooting. Not satisfied by this, he plugged my iPod into a computer there, reset the software, and said I was good to go.

I wasn't inclined to call him a liar, but I did make him play and replay music on the iPod several times. It kept working (although I was hoping it wouldn't, as I really didn't trust him. Both I and the Pleasant Reason agreed later we didn't think he had good intentions.)

But, I now had a functioning iPod again, so off I went.

And, I must tell you, having my iPod back was wonderful. I'd forgotten how much I missed the thing. I listened to it quite a bit; much of the evening on Wednesday. I was listening to it at 5:45 on Thursday morning as I was driving to pick Anonymous up at her home to travel to Columbus for a seminar.

And it froze. (I had previously threatened that if it did this again, I was going to go through the roof of my condo. Insofar as my car is a convertible, this did not seem like much of a threat were I to carry it out now.)

So, Anonymous got in the car. I made her observe that the LED backlight was on, and that it played no music. I prevailed upon her good nature that, after eight hours of sitting in a seminar, she would allow us to go out of our way to stop at the Columbus Apple Store.

So, after the seminar and a meal, we went to Easton Town Center and the Apple Store. We were met by a young man to whom I explained my dilemma. He listened, and asked me to sign in to the Apple Concierge to reserve a time to speak with their techs.

Which seemed like a reasonable request, until I found out the first available time I could speak to the techs was at 8:45, and it was currently 7:00. (Not to mention that we were two and a half hours from home.)

A woman we spoke to at the store was of no help. There was no one talking to the techs now because they were all scheduled for later, so they couldn't help me.

Here came the first guy again. When we explained the dilemma (and the fact that I live a minimum of two and a half hours from any Apple store), he said he'd get one of his friends who was a tech back there to look at it for us.

Yippee! Things were going my way. They took my iPod and walked on back. The tech (who I will refer to as AE2, for Apple Employee 2) came back and talked to me. I explained the story I've now explained to you. I think he disappeared again, and then reemerged.

There was a problem, he said. There was no evidence I'd ever been into Twelve Oaks. Well, actually, it indicated I'd called in on June 25. I hadn't called anyone on June 25, but June 25 WAS the day I'd been into Novi.

I was devastated. John in Novi had violated my trust, and not duly recorded my pilgrimage to Novi, thus, it appeared, consigning me to some corner of Apple Hell. AE2 suggested that they could take my iPod from me, but they would need to test it for four days to make sure I wasn't lying.

"OK," I said. "Can you send the replacement iPod to me when you figure out that I'm not lying?"

"Well, no," AE2 replied. "You'd have to come in and pick it up."

"That's not an option," said Anonymous. "We live two and a half hours away from Novi and three hours from you."

AE2 got this disturbed look on his face. It's the sort of disturbed look one should get when one is not giving good customer service; but I suspect in his case, it was the disturbed look Apple employees get when their mark -- er, customer -- refuses to go quietly.

"Well," he said, "you'll have to send it in then."

"Send it in?" I asked. This sounded like I was going to be spending copious amounts of time at the post office, mailing, receiving, signing for, two-week mail.

No, no, no, AE2 assured me. I would simply go online, complete a quick form, and Apple would overnight me a box. I would drop my iPod in the box and overnight it back to Apple. Everything would be filled out and taken care of. I literally would require the force to lift the iPod and the assistance of gravity to put it in the box.

That sounded decent. So, John hands me a business card with the Apple support website where I go to get the box, to start what he said would be a four-day process.

Anonymous, being a far wiser and less trusting soul than I, suggested I use a computer at the Apple store to go online and get the box ordered, just in case I would have a problem. I was sure I wouldn't -- AE2 wouldn't lie to me -- so I decided to get online.

At that time, AE2 advised me that, if I had any problems, any problems at all, I should find another Apple employee, because he was going to be doing something else in the back room or something.

(I'm not kidding.)

I should have gotten nervous then.

Merrily, I went to the computer and started typing in my name, email address, residence address, and all those other little details they need to send to me. I then typed in my iPod's serial number, whereupon, I was greeted with a screen which read Your iPod's Warranty Has Expired.

Careful readers will recall that my iPod's warranty has definitely NOT expired. This was established conclusively during my trip to Novi. It lasts until August 13.

Of course, AE2 was nowhere to be seen, so we found another Apple employee. I now told him my story, and he offered to take my iPod and go check my warranty against the serial number.

He went to check the serial number. He returned. He advised me that it was clear my warranty wasn't expired, and wouldn't do so until August 4. (Careful readers will note that Novi told me it would be August 13, which is one year after I purchased the iPod. Nonetheless, I'm still under warranty, no matter what the date is.)

Great. Problem solved, right? Well, he seemed to think so. All I needed to do was take my iPod to one of their techs.

I should note two things.

(1) At this point, I started laughing maniacally.

(2) Many of the Apple employees wear shirts that have but a single word on them:


Insofar as the Apple employees began to blend together at this point, I shall just refer to them as the Genius of the Moment. I should also note that I now wonder whether they put "genius" on their shirt because of their mental acuity, or because everyone was calling them "genius" in a sarcastic tone, and they didn't catch the irony.

Once I recovered from my laughing fit and reminded myself there were laws against what I was considering doing to this Genius, I advised him that doing that would simply start the merry-go-round I'd just been on all over again. So, the Genius disappeared, and then reappeared to write a phone number down on my business card I could call to validate my warranty.

Anonymous at that point, in her words, "politely suggested to him that HE make the call."

Looking at us with those big, uncomprehending eyes that are a sign of Genius, and are not unlike those George W. Bush makes just before he has to pronounce a multi-syllabic word, he took my iPod and headed to the front of the store to make this call.

He asked me to stay close, so that I could give the person on the other end of the phone my mailing address.

The only thing that made this experience more bearable was that HE was holding the phone and was on hold. My range of movement was somewhat less limited, and I didn't have to listen to some inane hold message telling me one of Apple's customer service geniuses would be along shortly.

Well, ten minutes went by. Fifteen minutes went by. Genius of the Moment was now squatting, indicating uncomfortableness with standing in the iPod store.

I did not care.

After about twenty minutes, he waved me over to him. His hold time having ended (really, with what Apple pays these Geniuses, was it a good use of their time to have someone spending 20 minutes on the phone holding because they couldn't deal with my problem in one of two stores?), I now had the opportunity to speak to a Phone Genius.

Now, remember, all she was going to do was to verify my warranty and send me a box. She first asked me how I was doing, and I told her. (Reader: guess.) She advised me that, because I was still under warranty, I wouldn't have to pay $49 an hour for the privilege of talking to her. How nice.

So, then, she tells me that they will send me a box, but I will be responsible for postage.

I did not care, at this point, what postage was. It was the principle of the thing. I was incredibly irate. Out of curiosity, I asked what the expense of postage would be. Eh, around $30 to $40.

Similarly feeling furious and frustrated, I decided not to complain and allow my further association with Apple to cost me roughly 10% of the purchase price of my original iPod. She asked for my street address; I gave it. She asked for the name on my credit card. I gave it.

I then waited anxiously for the opportunity to provide my credit card number to her. Insofar as I was in the middle of a public store with numerous people there, I was thrilled by this opportunity. (By now, of course, the in-person Genius had disappeared.) And waited. And waited. And waited.

"You still there?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, "just getting everything set up." As time moved on (I'd now been there about an hour), I mused to myself that I did not know she had to gas up the plane that was coming to get my iPod.

"Well," she said, "here's the problem. There are two systems here. One shows you're under warranty until August. The other says you're not. And I have to send your iPod out on the one that says you're not under warranty, so you'll have to pay for us to look at your iPod."

I believe I clarified that I was hearing what I was hearing, and that I was not delusional.

Then, through gritted teeth and in a deceptively calm voice, I asked her how much I would pay.

She pleasantly informed me it would cost $265.40.

Now I, Gentle Reader, am a pretty calm-tempered fellow. It takes much to get me to lose my temper.

But, at this point, right there in the middle of the Apple store, I said, in a voice that was louder than I would consider polite for cross-examining any number of recalcitrant witnesses, "$265. Plus $40 for shipping and handling. So, you want me to spend the money it would basically take to purchase a new iPod, WHICH I SUSPECT WAS YOU PEOPLE'S ENTIRE IDEA IN THE BEGINNING."

She said nothing.

I considered my options carefully, slammed down the phone, and stomped out of the Apple store. (Note: I have never slammed a phone down before in my LIFE.) I told Anonymous, who was waiting for me outside, the tale. She suggested I should not use the language I was using in a place where there were so many small children running about. She later indicated she feared I was about to climb a lamppost and yell from the top of my lungs, "Don't buy anything from Apple, kids!"

Here's my problem. I'd really prefer not to patronize a company with such awful customer service. But I'm hooked on my iPod, and have not been told there is a comparable machine out there.

So my suggestion is this: If you plan to purchase an iPod, think of it as a health club membership. You're likely going to pay a set amount every year to use it. Because they are NOT going to repair it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Not The Brightest Hunger Striker In The World, That Saddam

Well, isn't this special: Saddam Hussein has ended his hunger strike, which apparently consisted of, uh, skipping lunch.

I'm not joking.

Saddam was doing without vittles to protest the assasination of one of his lawyers. Legal experts say this may be one of the first time on record anyone, anywhere, has indicated unease at the demise of a lawyer.

But, truly. What a wimpy hunger strike. Two major flaws:

1. He skipped LUNCH. LUNCH, for God's sake. That was it, that was all. Saddam, baby, try working for a living and not having time to eat. Good grief...

2. Generally, the idea of a hunger strike is this: Something bad is happening and will continue to happen absent some change that can be effected. You stop eating so that everyone goes, "Oh my! That Saddam is such a nice man and if he died the world would be so much worse off, we simply MUST meet his demands so he'll start taking nourishment again." (Which leads us to a third subflaw -- you must be someone we would miss if you were gone.)

Your lawyer was DEAD, Saddam. No pulse. He wasn't coming back because you started eating. I mean, the rest of us might have been quite happy to have you continue to protest in this manner, but your method was stupid.

Perhaps he's working on an insanity defense...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

This and That on Thursday

The U.S. is out of the World Cup.

Yeah, I don't care, either.

Seriously, there appear to be three people in this country that cared about the fate of Team USA in the soccer world championship. Two of them were in the lounge here at the car dealership where I'm having my* car fixed, and had ESPN tuned to it. The other one is on ESPN, talking to someone who is clearly from Somewhere Else, my guess being Scotland.

That's my point. ESPN can't even find two American commentators to talk about soccer. Good grief...


This week I've learned a few things about myself.

The first part of the week was pretty hectic for Me, Esq. As you might imagine for someone who represents victims of domestic abuse, the work is high-stakes and can be exhausting.

One day this week, I woke up. My brain was running at a million miles an hour and I have to say I was not in a good place.

Suddenly, it clicked. I always made a little fun of those folks who say, "You need to center!" "Center?" What sort of hippy-dippy crap is that?

Suddenly, I realized (1) I wasn't centered; (2) I needed to be and (3) I could become so. I sat down, thought through what had me panicked, realized none of it was that bad and I could handle it all, and also that I should probably not have a CD of loud fast-paced music while I drove to calm me down. It helped a great deal. It was also a good chance to learn more about mastering your circumstances, rather than letting them master you.


To those of you hitting this blog through searches for the bar exam and some variant thereof, I feel your pain. Hang in. We're thinking of you.


* And now for that asterisk. I can't really call it "my car," but I can say that I have been driving for the past several weeks and will probably be drivng for the rest of the summer, a convertible BMW Z3. No, it's not mine; the Bassett family just has this bizarre way of trading off cars that makes no sense to outsiders or insiders.

Anyway, it's a heckuva fun car and I'm having a great time with it.


Nominee for ad of the year: The Bill Gates imitator on the Mac commercials. I find them kind of interesting.

Certainly more interesting than the guy who proceeded it, askng, "Where does U.S. soccer go from here?"

Monday, June 12, 2006

Fabiolous, plus...helmets, anyone?

Sorry I've been light on the blogging lately; as loyal readers know, I maintain the position that you'd rather suspect I have nothing to blog, rather than to have to come read what I've posted and remove all doubt.


I have to give Fabio a little credit. (Now, there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.) If you haven't caught the latest commercial featuring him, it basically starts off by saying it's a shampoo for a man whose name is synonymous with sex appeal (cue: whispered Fabio). We see a shot of Our Hunk (who, some may recall, got hit in the face with a bird a few years ago on a roller coaster) rowing a gondola, and once again hear the whispered (Fabio.) A shot of the shampoo. A shot of Fabio handing a rose to a woman who is clearly in his thrall.

(At home, a shot of Michael shaking his head and nearly gagging, thinking if this is what passes for sex appeal, he may as well just retire from the Dating Game at once.)

Then, the Fabster goes under the bridge and becomes a 75-year-old man. And, at home, a shot of Michael laughing uproariously at someone who can clearly laugh at himself (and the cartoon character he could become, if he took himself too seriously.)

(Oops: In checking Wikipedia to see if Fabio was in fact the guy who got hit with a bird in the face -- he was -- it appears the commercial has been around since Super Bowl XL. Shows how much TV I watch...)


I've said before that I think being a sportswriter/commentator could be kind of fun. My dad pointed out I'd probably have to have far more sports knowledge than I do, which is limited to knowing slightly more than that there are four downs in football, nine innings in baseball and eighteen holes in golf.

In any case, I think the people that make up the world of sports are fascinating and it sometimes reminds me of my old gig of politics (which may be the best argument yet for not being a sportswriter!) Anyway, one of the better, more acerbic sportswriters out there is a guy named Mike Celzic, and this article is his take on Ben Roethlisberger's recent attempts to secure a new Indian name, namely, Travels Without Helmet.

Someone buy Big Ben a helmet, please?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I'd Be Blogging More But...

...sometimes, you have cases that could use this type of resolution...

I'd write more, but I think I see a Gordian knot over there that needs untying...

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