Free Stuff, Pretty Much

Recently we ordered a new computer, a Mac.  We also ordered an iPod Touch and a printer.  We are getting a pretty good deal, if you ask me.  If you don’t ask me I still think it is a good deal.  It is all sort of free.

How might you get a computer and an iPod and a printer for free, you ask?  Like this:  Apple has a deal right now for educators–if you order a new Mac you can get an iPod Touch for free.  Well not exactly free, but you can get a rebate for the cost of the thing, so it counts as free in my book.  So that was an incentive (aside from our aging computer showing some hints of age).  When you order a Mac you also can get a rebate on a printer.  The rebate is the same as the cost of the printer.  We did spring the extra 30 bucks so the printer will be wireless (and host a copier and a scanner) so we are out of pocket a Hamilton and a Jackson at this point.

The computer wasn’t directly free.  We have been saving points from our credit card for a while now.  We wanted to just use those to get a computer but that wasn’t an option.  You can use your points for a lot, but not that.  You can, however, use your points for a mortgage payment.  They make the check out to your mortgage holder and send it to you to send in as a payment.  You can get it for whatever amount, so we got one for the cost of the computer.  We pay for the computer instead of the mortgage and it’s a wash.

All three of the items on our order were shipped separately, from different places.  The printer was shipped first and arrived yesterday.  It came late, at 8:30, right when the children were falling asleep, of course.  I met the FedEx driver on the porch and he had three packages.  One was some unlrelated clothing my spouse had ordered.  Then there were two printers.  I asked if he was sure they were all for us.  “Yup, the two printers and this smaller package,” was his response.  Sure enough, both printers had the right name and address.

Right away I checked to make sure I had not ordered two printers by mistake.  I had, indeed, only ordered one.  The tracking number was only attached to one.  Our order status only reflected one.  Apple had made a mistake.  So we called.  Maybe you would not have called but we felt it would be the right thing to do.  Good karma and all that.  My wife asked “What if you made a mistake but we are happy with the mistake?”  The rep at Apple asked if we would use a second printer.  Then, with the answer affirmative, said we could just keep it.

So we had to pay an extra 30 bucks but then we got an extra printer.  We may actually be ahead after all this.  We aren’t sure what we will do with the extra printer yet.  Use it at home?  Sell it?  Give it to someone who could really use it?  Like a nonprofit agency?  We will have to decide at some point.  That thing is taking up space.  And it is a good printer.

The Touch came today and I am taking precious time away from exploring its features to write this.  But it is a good story, no?  The computer is scheduled to arrive on Saturday.  I can’t imagine they would make the same mistake twice.  But one can hope, no?

Too Much Getting Sent All Over

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?