Over the past week, I have decided once and for all to keep my computer out of the hands of Streetwise, a popular Apple retailer here in Melbourne.

I have previously written about Streetwise, an Apple Authorised Service Centre, and its policy of holding onto computers while they wait days for replacement parts to arrive so that they can maintain a high Apple Service Rating.

Missing Serial Number

That original post came about when I had to get the palm rest of my MacBook replaced under warranty, and in the past week another shocking outcome of that repair has come to light: when the Streetwise technician replaced my palm rest, he did not transfer my MacBook’s serial number sticker (which is attached to the underside of the palm rest—inside the battery compartment).

When I contacted Streetwise about this last week, service manager Jedda Wignall was appropriately contrite. “It is incredibly unfortunate that you have been hit with this inconvenience, as could have been put in a precarious situation as a result,” he wrote (sic.). “The technician who performed the work is no longer with the company, and I would like to think that this situation would not arise again.”

The precarious situation to which he refers would occur if damage or malfunction left me unable to turn on my computer to look up the serial number in the operating system. In effect, I would be unable to prove the identity of my computer, and thus unable to obtain warranty service.

In order to make it up to me, Wignall offered to waive the cost of labour on any future repair work I might require. I turned him down: “I’m afraid that it’s reached the point where I would rather pay the labour costs than leave any of our computers in the hands of Streetwise staff again.”

At the same time, I advised everyone else here at SitePoint to avoid using Streetwise to service their Macs. Streetwise would not be getting near any of our computers again … except for one.

While this exchange went on, my colleague Andrew Krespanis was also struggling with his own Streetwise horror story. He had left his MacBook Pro with Streetwise for warranty repair of his display, and when he insisted on taking his computer back while Streetwise awaited the replacement part, he discovered that the screen’s case had been bent and the computer would no longer run on battery power!

It took many phone calls and more than a few trips to Streetwise to do it, but Andrew finally got his MacBook Pro back from Streetwise this morning. It’s in perfect working order … but it has no serial number sticker.

Yes indeed. Part of the repair work Streetwise performed on Andrew’s MacBook Pro involved replacing the palm rest, and just as they did to my machine they again failed to transfer the serial number sticker to the new part. So much for Wignall’s assurances that this would not happen again!

Discovering this, I called Wignall personally. He thanked me for bringing it to his attention, agreed it was absolutely shocking, and promised to take steps. He also dug Andrew’s old palm rest out of the trash and peeled the serial number sticker off of it for us.

My advice? Avoid getting your computer serviced by Streetwise at all costs. If you can’t avoid it, or have already left your computer with them, be sure to check for the serial number sticker when you get it back!