Apple Dissent (gasp!)

An email from my friend John:

I was just pricing a new laptop. I like the new G4 12" iBook. Bump up the HD
from 40 to 80 gigs for 100 bucks and that’s a very useful machine.

Here’s where Apple falls down for me: The Apple Care package is $250! That
raises the price of my iBook by 20%. It’s almost like they don’t *want* to
have to support their products. And as much as I’d love to roll the dice,
I’ve owned laptops before and I know it’s going to get dinged up at some
point. Urgh!

I find it amazing that Apple is so good at creating brand apostles while
being so insanely shady about supporting their own stuff. There’s a lesson
to be learned here. You don’t actually have to be good to your consumers to
get them to love you. Apple is the Bill Clinton of computer companies.

Well, gosh. That is something to chew on. I can tell you first hand that we have had similar experiences with Apple. What is it that keeps people heading back for more? I think it’s this: Their stuff is so cool that people are willing to put up with crappy support. But is that a sustainable strategy?

Here’s the thing: Eventually someone, somewhere is going to catch up or even beat Apple in coolness. If a significant number of Apple zealots are actually steaming under the surface , there may well be a dramatic backlash.

So, what is the lesson? For Apple it would be this: Take stock now and invest in making your service the best it can be. Inoculate against a service backlash. For the rest of us? Take stock now and invest in making your service the best it can be. I know my company doesn’t have nearly the power of Apple to keep customers in the face of silent anger. Yours probably doesn’t either.

9 thoughts on “Apple Dissent (gasp!)

  1. What are you talking about? Consumer reports has them at #1. PC mag has them at #1 or near the top of the industry. Nothings perfect. This just sounds like whining about something that might happen. You get a 1 Year warranty. If you want an extended warranty you have to pay for it. What disrespect are you talking about? What is shady about a year warranty & telling you up front you can purchase an extended warranty. What company does not do this? Maybe your friend should grow up.

  2. Don’t bother with AppleCare. Just be somewhat careful with your PowerBook and you shouldn’t have a problem. I never buy AppleCare and I have bought 4 Mac laptops and 2 Mac desktops for myself and family plus dozens of Mac systems for work. I *never* buy AppleCare.

    I have had 1 system completely die recently. It was 4 years old. If I had bought AppleCare it wouldn’t have helped. I have had other systems that did have problems. Usually its been a dead hard drive, but both times this has happened has been within the first year (i.e. the regular warranty period.)

    I’m not saying that you might not benefit from AppleCare (peace of mind?), but I have not actually seen a case where it would have helped me – on dozens of systems. Apple computers are damned reliable.

  3. I agree: AppleCare is insurance. If something goes wrong, Apple will fix it for free–no muss, no fuss, no hassle. And it will be cheaper than if you pay for it outside of AppleCare. But if nothing goes wrong…?

    By the way, the three year AppleCare package is $250–20% of the cost of the computer. Imagine how you’d feel if you bought a Dell Inspiron 700m for $949 and paid $279–almost 30%–for the three year warranty? You might feel a little better with Gateway, where a three-year service plan on a $749 laptop is only $159–20%. For some odd reason, I can’t check out HP to see if they’re better or worse.

    In short, Apple’s extended warranties are not out of line.

  4. Joe-
    Certainly, I should grow up. But I don’t see how that’s germane to this discussion.

    Know why people rank Apple #1 in customer service? Because they’re brand zealots. Read: “nerds.” Nerds who will defend Apple no matter what they do. These are people who thought the Newton was a good idea. Ever have to deal with Apple when your laptop is broken? I have. And it sucked both times. Their service is not that good. And maybe Mike is right–if they had any competition in the “cool factor,” they could end up in serious trouble.

    Also: It’s a one-year warranty, but only 90 days of support. There’s a difference there.

    So basically, Joe, there are two kinds of people. People like you, who will defend Apple to the death no matter how wrong they are. And then there are people like me, who like their Apple products just fine, but are more than willing to call them on their bullshit.

    –John

  5. John,

    Grow up. If Apple’s warranty extension is in line with everyoen else, then your argument that it is a rip-off is incorrect. Deal with that.

    As for your opinion about their service, if they are rated number one and you have had several bad experiences, that is called a “statistical anomaly.” It is not due to Apple fanatics. I call bullshit when I see it, and while I understand your frustration at some bad experiences, but that does not mean everyone is ignoring bad service. Apple “fanatics” generally are tough on Apple. I am.

    Imagine your experiences if you bought a Dell!!!

    Dave the realist

  6. I bought a 15″ PB on April 30 this year. For the first time ever I also bought Apple Care. When Mail stopped working nothing I could do solved the problem. The problem was partly due to changes my ISP made, partly due to stuff I did trying to adjust and partly due to a damaged Preferences file. The computer was just out of its 90 day warranty. I took it to the local Apple Store where a Genius spend 45 minutes with me but could not fix the problem.

    I called Apple Care, got bumped upstairs when the first level could not fix the problem.

    Problem fixed. Everyone very nice and very professional.

    Apple Care has paid for itself. Don’t leave home without it.

  7. As an employee at one of Apple’s retail stores I can guarantee you that every Apple retail employee prides themselves on customer service. You should see the endless list of emails we get from customers thanking us for spending however long it took to fix there system. We even get emails thanking us for being honest and recommending systems that fit their needs and not trying to sell them more computer than they will ever use. Apple retail employees do not work on commission, but are paid hourly. So when I recommend Apple Care, its not because I get bonus from it, its because I stand by the quality of service it provides.

  8. By the way, Consumer Reports is NOT run by a bunch of Mac zealots. They routinely make mistakes/omissions that are negative toward Macintosh computers.

    So, the fact that Apple got a #1 rating in customer support from Consumer Reports cannot be explained away by your dismissive comment. Rather, your anecdotal complaint is ridiculous, especially since several comments here point out that Apple’s extended warranty is similar in price to other computer companies.

    What a useless comment.

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