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Apple in Saudi Arabia: 2 years of frustration

Another title would be: Why Apple should end their Apple IMC program and start selling their products directly.

A Mac user in Saudi Arabia, Talal Bakry, posted on the Mac Rumors Forum about his unfortunate experience with GlobalStore ( An Apple Authorized Premium Reseller in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia), Arab Computers (Apple Authorized Distributor in Saudi Arabia) and Apple IMC(Apple’s third-party partners across Europe, the Middle East and Africa acting as officially-sanctioned representatives in these regions) mainly Apple IME Middle East but it could happen with any other IMC.

What he went through in the duration of 2 years:
1. He bought a MacBook Pro from GlobalStore on 11th of June 2006.
2. Two weeks later the battery died.
3. GlobalStore told him there are no replacement batteries and no shipments expected for a few months.
4. GlobalStore gave him a “spare battery” from an “existing machine”.
Khaled’s comment: Why didn’t GlobalStore contact Arab Computers and asked for a replacement battery. Its under the warranty and they should honor that.
5. Replacement battery started to swell and damaged the MacBook Pro’s trackpad.
6. GlobalStore told him they don’t “do repairs” and Arab Computers are the only Authorized Service Provider and they would take a month to repair it. Talal had to travel to Canada.
7. Talal took the MacBook Pro to an Apple Store in Canada and they replaced his battery at once. They also replaced the top case of the MacBook Pro.
Khaled’s comment: excellent warranty coverage from different countries.
8. Talal then noticed screeching noises from the MBP and discs would not eject from the optical drive. So he took it to the Apple Store again.
9. This time the Apple Store claimed that the MBP’s warranty is not accepted in their system. Because it was purchased in an “IMC Country”. He was told to contact Apple Customer Care to activate the MBP’s warranty.
Khaled’s comment: A serious issue with Apple’s IMC. A reason why Apple should just sell their products directly in the region. Read this excellent article by Mazen Al-Angary on mymac titled “The Truth about Apple in the Middle East”.
10. He returned to the Apple Store on 12th of August 2006 after he called Apple Customer Care. The system still did not accept his MBP but they still took it in and replaced the right fan and superdrive.

11. He traveled back to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in September. After a few months a high pitched buzzing noise was heard from the left side of the MBP. It was a specific problem as noted on Apple’s knowledge base. Apple’s solution would be to replace the Main Logic Board of the MBP affected.
12. On 11th of June 2007, the last day of warranty he took the MBP to GlobalStore. They said they will take it to Arab Computers to repair and it should take 2 weeks (instead of the initial estimated 1 mont).
13. In the time of 6 weeks he was told that Arab Computers are refusing to do any repairs. Claiming that the left speaker works correctly. He re-demonstrated the problem to GlobalStore many times.
14. Arab Computers refused to talk to him directly. Claiming they don’t deal directly with individual customers. And he should only deal with GlobalStore regarding machine repairs.
Khaled’s comment: This is absurd! Arab Computers are the “Apple Authorized Service Provider” they are supposed to deal with their customers who bought their machines and do the repairs that Apple itself provided in their knowledge base.
15. On 22nd of July 2007 he took his MBP from GlobalStore with no repairs done and traveled back to Canada.
16. He sent an email to Steve Jobs in August 2007 and he was contacted by Apple Executive Relations in Canada. He explained his problem and was told to take his MBP to the Genius Bar in the Apple Store.
17. The problem was found and the Main Logic Board was replaced under warranty.
18. He picked up the MBP and he can still hear a high pitched buzzing noise. He was contacted again by the Apple Executive Relations to follow up with his issue. He told them about it and was asked to bring it to the Apple Store for inspection again.
19. On 11th of August 2007 his left I/O Board was replaced but it did not solve the problem.
20. The Apple Executive Relations in Canada told him that they would replace his MBP with a new one if he did not buy it from an IMC country. So he had to ask GlobalStore/Arab Computers for a replacement.
Khaled’s note: Again with the IMC red tape. I urge Apple to cancel the IMC program and sell their products directly to its customers in this region!

21. In 2nd of September 2007 he took the MBP to GlobalStore and they said they will attempt to arrange a deal wih Arab Computers to have the MBP replaced.
22. For a few weeks GlobalStore claiming that his MBP was at Arab Computers but in reality it was at GlobalStore and was never taken to Arab Computers.
23. Arab Computers have agreed to replace the MBP but they are waiting for final approval from Apple Europe. And if Apple Europe did not approve of the replacement. he can get a trade-in by paying a few hundred Riyals in difference to get a new MBP.
Khaled’s note: I am getting frustrated for the poor guy.
24. On 7th of October 2007 when he visited GlobalStore he was told that Arab Computers have instructed GlobalStore to not get involved with him anymore. Even though they said earlier that he should only deal with GlobalStore.
25. An Arab Computers employee “Hussam Zaa’zaa” was at GlobalStore at the time and he confirmed the replaced offer and assured that they’ll get the replacement MBP before 10th of October 2007.
26. On the 20th of October. 10 days after the promised date he called Mr. Hussam and Mr. Hussam told him to come to the Arab Computers “office” which was just a small house in a residential area.
27. Mr. Hussam told him he had never confirmed the replacement offer! and they are discussing his issue with the parent company in Dubai (ABM I assume). and he have to follow up with Mr. Abdulmajeed Al-Shakaki Arab Computer’s Head Technician.
28. Mr. Shakkaki told him to come back the next day for their final answer.
29. On the next day Mr. Shakaki denied the existence of such a replacement offer! No one at Arab Computers were willing to help and Mr. Hussam denied his involvement in his issue.
30. Arab Computers didn’t let him talk to their manager, Amjad Matar.

31. On 31st of October 2007 he called Apple Customer Relations in the US using Skype to explain his situation.
32. Apple Customer Relations don’t deal with IMC countries. And so are Apple Customer Relations in the UK. No one at Apple Europe deals with IMC counties.
Khaled’s note: Apple buyers in IMC countries are simply orphaned by this. Apple needs to end the IMC program.
33. Apple’s Customer Relations tried to contact Arab Computers by phone but they were unable to reach them.
34. Talal finally managed to contact Amjad Matar, Arab Computers manager on 29th of November. And they met at Arab Computers’ main office on the 5th of December.
35. Mr. Matar denied any knowledge of a replacement offer and it was never an option to begin with and Arab Computers is under no obligation to replace his MBP.
36. Mr. Matar offered a 6-months extended warranty and if any technical issues arise he will personally have his machine replaced with a new one.
37. Apple’s Customer Relation supported Arab Computers on their decision. In other words bailing them out of their promise.
Khaled’s note: It was Apple’s Executive Relations who suggested the replacement in the first place.
38. Technical issues started to show up after a few months in April 2008: Unstable battery, noise from the left side, LOCK keys LED, uneven display backlighting.
39. Talal contacted Mr. Matar. Mr. Matar acknowledged the warranty but he denies offering replacement as he promised earlier. Matar said he will contact Apple Europe to ask for replacement.
Khaled’s Note: The same Apple Europe that “does not deal” with IMC countries?
40. On the 25th of May 2008 Talal recieved a call from Arab Computers telling him that they have received his replacement MBP and he could come and pick it up.

41. The replacement machine was an open box MacBook Pro of the same model (first generation Core Duo), scratched up, no accessories or software and without Apple’s warranty.
Khaled’s note: Apple’s refurbished come in sealed boxes with all their accessories. This sounds like a leftover machine that was on display for too long.
42. Mr. Matar claims that this machine is “brand new”.
Khaled’s note: Someone needs his eyes checked.
43. Apple’s policy regarding warranty: “new or which has been manufactured from new of serviceable used parts and is at least functionally equivalent to the original product”.

I have contacted Talal for more info regarding this.

As for what I think? I blame it on Apple for their IMC program and I believe they should end it as I said a few times already. Apple should simply sell their machines here to their customers directly. Also, “Authorized Apple” distributors and service providers are not even honoring their own warranties.

This is another reason why many people don’t buy Apple products in Saudi Arabia. The level of service provided here is low. The “international” warranty provided here isn’t honored in the United States, the UK and Europe.

Found the forum post on MacRumors forums.

About Khaled A.


  1. Battery caused a damage to the tracpad (loooool), with all these problems the machine should not work at all, how come it still working with all these noticeable hardware failures!, someone is not telling the truth.

  2. MacMania,

    Yes, defective batteries causing damage to the trackpad on MacBooks is a known issue. If you ever used a MacBook or MacBook Pro, you must have noticed that the battery is directly beneath the trackpad. So if the battery swells, it’ll damage the trackpad.

    You can check this website if you don’t believe me: http://www.macobserver.com/article/2006/06/15.13.shtml

    And yes, this machine did have a lot of technical problems, though none have made it inoperable.

  3. great idea

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