We have had our current computer, an iBook, since 2003 or so. It still runs fine. We have updated the operating system. We can send email and write documents and watch videos and all the other computer stuff one might do these days. But we are starting to have a few issues. For one, the R key is off. It popped off, literally, once (snagged on a sleeve, I believe) and we couldn’t get it back on quote right. It still works but requires a small extra effort to type that important letter (22 of them so far, including the ones in these parentheses). The screen also has some issues, turning half blue if it is tilted at the wrong angle. Oh, and the battery is dead, so essentially it is a desktop on the counter.
So we decided to get a new computer. Here is our strategy: cash in all the points we have accumulated from our credit card for a mortgage payment (who knew you could get that?) and use what would have been our mortgage payment to buy a new computer. We want to get another Mac (I mean, duh) and right now they have a deal that we would be prudent to accept. We can get a free iPod Touch with the purchase of a new computer. Done. At least, I tried to make it so. Then I pulled the plug.
A couple of days ago I went to the Apple web site and put in an order. I even got the free engraving on the iPod Touch. I was excited and eager to get the goods. I splurged on the $19 remote for the desktop (the laptop just seemed more than we needed after using our current one in stationary mode for so long). Then my wife pointed out that you can download a 99 cent app and turn your Touch into a remote. When I tried to go back to the order online (now a mere hour old) I couldn’t separate the remote from the order. It looked like I would have to cancel the whole thing. So I called.
The good news came first. “We won’t make you cancel the order,” the rep told me. “We’ll just leave the remote in there and credit you $19.” What a deal! Then she mentioned the tax holiday. Vermont has a tax holiday on August 22nd so no one has to pay state sales tax on anything under $2,000. We would save close to $100. That seemed stupid to pass up. But it would mean I would have to cancel the order and start over, ordering on August 22nd. So I told her to cancel it. That meant no free remote.
The problem was that the iPod Touch was already being processed and it was too late to stop that being sent. They are quick with those puppies apparently. No big deal, I thought, I can wait for the computer. The catch, however, is that to get the free iPod Touch you have to order it at the same time as the computer. So now I would have to pay for the Touch or send it back when it arrived. Free sounds a lot better than $229 to me. They would email some labels so I could mail it back without having to pay postage. Easy. Done. I hung up.
But then I remembered that if you get engraving on an iPod you can’t return it. So I called back. This time I talked to Sheryl, and she was patient with me. She told me that typically they would not accept an engraved iPod as a return, but they would make an exception for me. What a deal! Great customer service, I’m thinking. Then I asked her what would happen to it when it got sent back. She said they would remove the back, where it is engraved, put on a new back, and sell it as refurbished. So they would pay the postage to get it to me, pay the postage to get it returned, then make less of a profit on top of that. That seems, well, kind of dumb, considering I really do want the thing. If they would simply let me keep it and use the rebate (and it is a rebate after all, meaning I have to pay for it and get the cash back) then everyone would be better off. They would have less work to do, make more money, and I would get what I wanted faster, all saving green house gases and fuel and whatever else would be saved.
So I will get my new toy in the mail, send it back, and then re-order the whole kit and kaboodle in a couple of weeks. I hate to wait, but I also hate to pay an extra hundred bucks. I loved Apple’s customer service, but it does make me a tad concerned for the company’s future. They were willing to give me a free remote, take back something they wouldn’t normally take back, at a loss perhaps, and mail me something twice that I am sure would be perfectly good the first time. I will end up with what I want in the end, I suppose, although I will have to wait longer than I wanted. Apple takes the hit. That is too bad. I am sure it could have been better for both of us but hey, not all relationships can’t be perfect, now can they?