Whilst this guide is somewhat lengthy by following my steps you too may not only get your faulty iMac repaired but possibly replaced for a brand new unit, totally for free. It was a several month process in me doing so but hopefully, with the following advice, you may be able to get similar results in a more shorter time scale. Please feel free to post links to this article anywhere you might choose (Facebook, forums, Twitter etc.) but please, don't copy and paste it - I've spent a considerable amount of time writing this and would appreciate it that anyone that finds it of any help to read it directly from here.
I purchased my late 2006 white iMac online via the Apple Store. The specifications of which were 2.17ghz Intel Core 2 Duo, 3gb RAM, Nvidia GeForce 7600GT with 256mb RAM and a 24" display.
After about four years of not too heavy usage a problem developed. At first it wasn't too apparent; occasion ghosting of windows and icons would occur - this was also noticeable in the Dock (which I had set to be automatically hidden) with the application icons often coming up corrupted.
Over the next few months the problem increased. Videos and suchlike would often display corruptions; it didn't matter if they were Flash based, played in Quicktime or VLC for instance and increasingly upon playing a video the whole system would freeze. This would sometimes bring up the 'grey screen of death' or, more usually, wouldn't respond at all. Either way, I would have to hold in the power button to force the computer to restart.
Other problems would later become apparent - these could be from horizontal lines (that didn't necessarily cover the entire screen length and sometimes only on individual open windows) and also what looked like dead pixels would gradually increase as the iMac was being used. After reading about owners of the similar model of iMac I had read that installing SMCFanControl could help the problem as the problem seemed to have been diagnosed by myself and other users as being an overheating issue with the GPU. Whilst installing SMCFanControl worked for a few months even this was not enough in the end to solve the problems. Eventually the computer became unusable in any sort of capacity - any sort of 3D graphics would appear corrupted (both in Mac OS X Snow Leopard, Mac OS X Lion and even in Windows XP via Boot Camp), with kernel panics occurring regularly within 30 minutes of the machine being turned on.
Looking for a solution
I telephoned Apple to query this problem. Even though they denied that this seemed to be an inherent fault with this model of iMac (contrary to the dozens upon dozens of reports of exactly the same fault that I had read about whilst pursuing a solution) they nevertheless booked me in to see a Genius at my local Apple Store.
A week or so later I went to the Apple Store and a Genius had a look at it. He agreed that there most probably was a fault with the graphics card but both he and the manager both said that they had never heard of this problem - even though I provided evidence of what I believed was an inherent fault in that line of machine; the manager even went so far as to say to me "you can't believe everything you read on the internet"! Nevertheless they agreed to run some diagnostic tests and I left my iMac with at the store for them to diagnose the fault.
I received a call some days later and I returned to the Apple Store. I was told that a new logic board would need to be installed at a cost of just over £330. I said I would not be prepared to pay for this as I believed it was an inherent flaw and should be repaired by Apple for free. They disagreed and I not only was I fobbed off with nonsense by both the Genius and the store manager but they both tried to sell me a new iMac instead!
In the UK and quite a few other countries consumer laws and rights are very robust in being able to help the consumer. This I had already done plenty of research in and even took legal advice (this is in regards to English consumer rights but you should check the laws in your own country) to help get my problem solved...and for free.
The basic overview of my particular case are as follows:
- The item should be of satisfactory quality
- As described
- Fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time
So what does this mean? In England the law is good for items for up to six years (in Scotland it's five) - your own country may have different lengths of time. Seeing as my iMac cost me about £1700 it should be expected to last a reasonable length of time - for instance, you wouldn't expect the same of cheap toaster that cost less than £10 to last six years. With this is mind I quoted my Consumer Rights to both the Genius and the store manager but this fell on deaf ears - I believed that in this case Apple should have repaired my iMac for free - this was also confirmed from independent legal advice that I sought. However, they disagreed and turned me away with my still faulty computer.
Next plan of action
I telephoned AppleCare once more and entered into an extremely unhelpful conversation with person who wouldn't discuss repairing my computer for free or even talk about my Consumer Rights. I was eventually warned by this person that any more discussion about my rights should be taken up with Apple's legal department and that any more mention of my rights would end her terminating my call...which she did rather rudely and abruptly two minutes later.
What to do next? I wrote a letter to Apple. Here is the letter template - please feel free to use it and adjust the items marked in red to suit your own circumstances:
RE: Faulty goods and the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended)
In 2006 I bought an Apple iMac (white 2.16ghz, serial number W87********) from you for £1700 (approx.) which has stopped working.
The problem is severe graphics anomalies which render the computer unusable after approximately 30 minutes of use.
The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) states that when a consumer buys goods from a trader they must be: as described; of a satisfactory quality; and fit for any purpose made known at the time of sale to the seller.
This legislation also states that the seller, not the manufacturer, is legally obliged to sort out a problem if the goods do not meet these requirements.
The law also says I have six years from the date of purchase to claim damages for faulty goods.
My goods are not fit for purpose and I wish to claim a repair of my goods under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended.
Please respond to my complaint within 7 days from receipt of this letter.
If you are corresponding with Apple (or anyone for that matter regarding similar issues) always, always send your letter recorded delivery. That way you have proof that they have received it. The address to send it to in the UK is:
Director of Customer Services
Apple Inc. UK
2 Furzeground Way
I received a letter that said that my problem would best be solved via a telephone conversation. I was given a number to call and duly did so. After two or three conversations backwards and forwards and with me also threatening to take legal action via the small claims court, as I believed I had ample evidence to prove that the fault in my iMac was an inherent fault across many of the same line, they agreed to replace the logic board for free. On the plus side, the correspondence I had with the person dealing with my case was extremely helpful.
The repair (and lack of)
I booked my iMac into the Apple Store and was telephoned to collect it about a week later. This I did and upon firing it up what should happen? EXACTLY THE SAME FAULT. Another telephone conversation later and it was booked in for a Genius to have a look at over the course of a few nights. Another round trip to my local Apple Store (with parking costs and fuel this was adding up to about £40 per time) and then home to wait. I received a call to say that my computer was showing no signs of the previous fault and that I could pick it up again.
I took it home and EXACTLY THE SAME PROBLEM OCCURRED.
By this time I was starting to lose patience, not to mention I was wasting my own time and money going to and fro with the Apple Store. I decided to take drastic action. Another letter to Apple (same address as above) and a copy of the letter sent via email to Steve Jobs (who was, by that time, still CEO) as I had read that his email is regularly monitored and sometimes even replies were sent out by himself. I expected no reply to my email and a letter was not received in due time. By this time Steve Jobs had resigned as CEO so another, very lengthy, email was sent to the new CEO, Tim Cook (I won't publish his email address here but it can be easily found with a bit of simple searching) containing in detail everything that had been happening to me, including my frustrations, time wasted and accumulating travel costs.
asking to arrange to speak to me. This was arranged and she telephoned me regarding my case. She had been in personal touch with the Apple Store in question and had asked me to email her photographs of my faulty display / computer so that their technicians could have a look - the very same machine that the Apple Store said had been repaired. A couple of days later she had yet again arranged for another repair to my iMac at their expense however this time they were going to replace the logic board (again) and also the 24" display.
A week later I received another phone call:
AER - "Hi, this is ***** ***** from Apple Executive Relations. Well, I have some good news and bad news."
Me - "Go on..."
AER - "Your iMac's display and logic board have both been replaced. Sadly, the graphic problems and kernel panics are still occurring..."
Me - "Oh dear."
AER - "...and the Geniuses at the Apple Store are unable to find what is causing the problem."
Me - "Oh, right. So now what?"
AER - "Well, as a gesture of goodwill and seeing as you've been an Apple customer for many years now I've used everything within my power to replace your iMac with a brand new one of similar cost."
Yes, you read that right. After many months of determination and perseverance I finally came good and received a brand new, Aluminium 27" Core i5 iMac.
Obviously this is only a document of my own experience and laws and rights will vary from country to country. However, I am proof that if you think you have been hard done by in any way then stand up for your rights and prepare to fight to the end. I did...and I won.