Mac Users, Don’t Buy from CyberPower Inc.

Update (February 16, 2009): CyberPower has issued me a full refund for the UPS. They maintain that the issue is not with the UPS, but with my MacBook Pro, which appears to be correct.

CyberPower is an upstanding company with a great reputation. Their only fault in this situation was a representative with sub-par Macintosh experience. I appreciate their cooperation with working through this situation.

The original post is archived below, for posterity sake.

I recently purchased an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) from CyberPower Inc. It’s the CP550SL, and it looked pretty good in the store. The box said it was PC and Mac compatible, had a comfortable number of outlets, and had standard shutdown features that worked out-of-the-box with Mac OS X. Great!

For anyone who doesn’t know, a UPS is a glorified power strip, a device that takes one electrical outlet and makes several. In addition, it has a built-in battery to power attached devices in the event of a power failure. Using a usb cable, a UPS connects to a computer so the computer can shut itself down before the UPS runs out of electricity.

I plugged in all of my devices, attached the USB cable from the UPS to my Mac, and plugged the UPS in. After cycling the power on all of my devices, I booted my Mac. Excited to configure the automatic shutdown options (the real reason anyone buys a UPS), I went to the Energy Saver prefpane of System Preferences.

Much to my surprise, all of the UPS options were grayed out. I couldn’t configure anything!
CyberPower UPS in Mac OS X Leopard

From here, I did the technical thing. I cleared out the user and system caches on my MacBook Pro, rebooted, and tried again. No luck.

At this point, I did the responsible thing – contacted tech support. I sent this email:

I just took the UPS out of the box and installed it with my Mac by plugging the USB cable into my Mac’s USB port. In the System Preferences panel, Energy Saver, I can see the UPS under the drop-down “Settings for:”. When I click that and go to the UPS tab below, I can see the battery level and model, but all of the UPS options (what make the UPS useful, like shutting down the computer after a certain period of time) are grayed out! The UPS is useless unless those options work. I’m an administrative user and the panel is unlocked.

I’m a poweruser, and I’m puzzled as to what the problem could be. Normally these things “just work”. Any help would be appreciated before I have to take this unit back.

This morning, I got this two-sentence response:

The grayed out option is a bug in the latest version of Mac. You can check for an update from Mac.

This response is unacceptable. First and foremost, “the latest version of Mac” doesn’t make sense. The Mac is a computer, the Operating System it runs is Mac OS X, and the company that ships both of those products is Apple Inc. A tech support person would never say,

The grayed out option is a bug in the latest version of Windows. You can check for an update from Windows.

Obviously, he or she would recommend that I check for an update from Microsoft or from Windows Update.

Moving on, there’s no update available from Apple! I’m running the latest version of the Mac OS; the next version, 10.5.5, isn’t expected for some time (more than two weeks). A responsible tech support agent would have told me that CyberPower Inc. is working with Apple to correct the problem and I should expect a fix on a certain date or time-frame. Due to his or her lack of detail, I will likely return this product to the store I purchased it.

The Apple market-share is a small fraction of the computer market. However, we’re a vocal fraction. Until this is resolved, I unequivocally urge Mac users not to purchase any products from CyberPower Inc.

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