I encountered a curious problem with my trusty Apple MacBook Air earlier this week: It wouldn’t charge when plugged in.
I purchased my first Apple Mac computer back in about 1991 or so. But for only the second time in those three decades, I’ve had a major problem with an Apple computer. All of a sudden, my MacBook Air didn’t seem to realize that it was plugged in to a charger.
I left the computer on charge overnight. But when I woke up the next morning and started checking email, I didn’t immediately notice the battery status. When I did happen to look up, I saw that it was at 18%. Well, I thought, I need to charge it pretty soon.
But then I noticed that it was already plugged in. The telltale little lightning icon indicating the device was being charged didn’t appear next to the battery icon. I checked the power strip where charger brick was plugged in. It seemed to be working, so I moved the brick to a wall outlet. Still no juice.
Maybe it was that particular lightning port that had gone bad. So I plugged the charging cable into the other port that I used for my mouse. (Yes, a corded mouse: I hate wireless mice.) The battery still didn’t charge, but the mouse still worked.
That told me the port wasn’t the issue.
I actually went to Best Buy and purchased a new brick and charging cable. (The new charging cable is just three feet long and had a price tag of $39! Seriously: I should have gone into the charger business!)
I got home hoping that would solve the problem. Alas, it didn’t. Having ruled out the port and the charging equipment, the answer, apparently, involves the guts of the machine, which I wouldn’t presume to attempt to reach.
I had to call Apple and have them set up an appointment for me at an Apple Store. Different companies have different names for their computer techs. Best Buy calls theirs the ”Geek Squad.” Apple arranges appointments for its customers at its Genius Bar.
Non-Apple fans may have missed something I said earlier.
People who prefer various PC brands to Mac often complain about Apple’s pricing. Note the aforementioned charging cable for $40. Yeah, they charge more — sometimes a seemingly outrageous amount — for their products compared with what you could get for a PC.
But I’ve had extraordinarily good luck with Apple products. Yes, they cost more. But they seem to last a lot longer. It was 13 years ago that a desktop Mac of mine suffered a ”head crash,” a generally irreparable head drive problem. The computer tech seemed shocked that I’d never heard of a head crash.
He actually asked me if I was “new” to computers. I told him I wasn’t new to them at all.
It turns out that after all that time using Macs, I was still new to major computer problems.
A study seven years ago confirmed what I’ve experienced, saying MacBook Airs had the lowest failure rate of any laptop. The study also found that PCs had a higher failure rate even though Macs were, on average, used for longer periods of time.
So yes, I pay more for a computer. But I feel I get a more reliable product.
After 30+ years as a Mac user, as frustrating as it is for a laptop (that’s fortunately still in its warranty period) to go south, the fact that it’s only the second time I’ve had a major problem says a lot.
UPDATE: It took the Apple Genius all of about a half-hour or so to diagnose the problem, fix it and have me out of the store! I wish everything could work as smoothly these days!