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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Monday, November 13, 2006

Paul vs. Apple, Round Three

I've been meaning to wrap this one up. I'm sorry it's taken so long.

Nexus readers may recall the customer service saga I documented, in which my attempt at getting a known problem (discoloration on white Apple MacBooks) fix under warranty was initially thwarted by support representatives at Apple Computer. (Adding insult to injury, I had literally just spent $250 on an AppleCare Protection Plan for the computer.)

After my complaint, Apple responded quite quickly. A representative from Apple's corporate executive relations contacted me immediately (on a Sunday, no less) and arranged to have the MacBook fixed. Anyone who's had an Apple product (like a notebook computer or iPod) fixed will be familiar with the drill: The company sends you a box in which to ship the device (complete with various foam inserts to ensure a tight fit) and provides the packing tape and postage. A while later, the device is returned, (usually) fixed. If it's under warranty, the service is free.

In this case, I was promised a quick turnaround, and within a day or so I received an email asking me to call Apple because there was a problem with the machine. The email was vague in the sense that it didn't describe what the problem was, and when I called, the support rep--who, as expected, kept me waiting an astronomical amount of time--couldn't figure out what was needed. According to him, everything was all set.

The next day, my contact from Apple corporate executive relations called and explained that the MacBook was scratched and they weren't sure whether the scratching had occurred at the service center or before, so they were simply going to replace every outer surface of the machine just in case. This includes the outside top and bottom and well as the area around the keyboard (which was the piece that would have been replaced anyway under warranty) was well as the piece around the screen.

Anyone who's owned a white MacBook, iBook, or iPod understands that these devices are scratch-tastic. They scratch early and often, and easily, and can sometimes scratch when you just look at them funny. My MacBook was well taken care of, but it did have what I'd call a normal amount of scratching given its use. It wasn't horribly scratched, in other words.

Clearly, Apple was trying to do right by me, and while this replacement was unnecessary, it was certainly appreciated. It did delay the return of the notebook to me by a day or so, but that wasn't a huge issue. I received the MacBook back on a Saturday (they had rushed shipped it). And sure enough, it looked (and looks) brand new: Each of the other sides of the machine was covered in clear plastic, and the machine itself was pristine. Absolutely unbelievable.

On Monday, Apple called back to make sure I was happy with the repairs. Needless to say, I was overjoyed (though, again, I'm still unclear why Apple Support couldn't have accepted this repair to begin with). Then, I was offered a free iPod nano for my troubles, or, if I preferred, a $149 credit at the Apple Store. This, too, was certainly appreciated, but I ultimately turned down the offer. As I told the man from Apple, the company had already more than made up for my earlier experience. I didn't want that on my soul as well.

Ultimately, this reinforces the notion that it pays to complain when you've got a valid argument, especially when it comes to customer service. While I'm still dismayed that Apple Support didn't do the right thing initially (especially given the $250 AppleCare purchase), the company certainly went overboard trying to make up for it. I've gotten a few emails from people pointing out that I wouldn’t have been treated this way if I was just a random customer. That may have been true with my similar Dell support experience, but I got the vibe from Apple that this sort of make-up might be available to anyone that complained in the proper manner. The key, of course, is getting your pleas heard. I don't know.

Here are the before and after pictures.
[ Posted at 9:04 PM | Permalink ]


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