Fun repair experience

While on vacation in Hawaii, my Macbook Pro suddenly decided to stop working. When hitting the power button, all you get is a loop of startup chimes. Good times. I took a little trip to Maui’s home depot, and got the screw drivers I would need to take it apart. I pulled the ram, HD and optical drives, just to make sure they weren’t causing the issue, and checked for liquid spills from the cleaning staff of the hotel. Nothing. So it’s going back to Apple on a flat rate repair.

There’s a local Apple service provider here on Maui, MacNet computers, and I thought I would set up the dispatch with apple over the phone, and have the box shipped to them. They could babysit my laptop overnight, and just ship it out when they get the box. I’ve worked for 2 previous resellers, and the Apple Store. We did this for our customers at all three places.

So I wandered down there to see if they would do it.

Now there are a couple of ways a dispatch can happen. Apple can set it up over the phone and mail out a box to where ever you specify. Also, a reseller can set up the dispatch and have the box mailed to them. Like I mentioned, I had already set up the dispatch, and just had the box mailed to them. The extent what I was asking them to do was: Take the laptop today, hold it overnight until the box comes in, put it in the box, tear off a label, and hand it back to the DHL guy. Pretty simple.

Now I expected, this being a reseller that I’d have to throw $20 their way for the trouble of hanging on to it and boxing it up. I would have even thought $40 was reasonable.

When I talked to their tech and explained the situation, he immediately said it would be $80. He started explaining that they had to take it into their care, and call apple and get a box… so I stopped him, and reiterated that I already had created the dispatch, a box was on the way, and that all they had to do was box it up. He said it would still be $80. Okay, no harm no foul. I understand you need to make money, but that’s too rich for my blood. So I say okay, thanks, and start to wander looking for an FM transmitter for my iPod. He stops me trying to explain that it really is a lot of work for them. So I turn back and say… really a lot of work to put in a box and tear a label? He then starts explaining that when it comes back they have to check it out and make sure it’s fixed. At which point I explain that it’s being shipped back to me in Arizona, and they’ll never see it again after it gets mailed out. (I was thinking here that something would click and he’d say.. ohhh I get it now, sure we’ll take care of that for you). He then gave me a disbelieving look and told me that Apple doesn’t do that.

Now, I should point out, that up to this point I wasn’t really annoyed. $80 is a little rich for what I was asking them to do, but I understand they need to make money. I just wasn’t willing to pay it, and wanted to get on to other stuff. This wasn’t what made me mad.

So, at this point I’m not confident that this guy was really understanding what I was saying, so I reiterated once more. I’ve already set up the dispatch, the box is coming here, you would sent it off, Apple would send it to me in Arizona. “Yeah, Apple doesn’t do that”. Okay dood. Now I’m a little miffed. “Yes apple does, I was an MG for over 2 years, I know Apple’s policies”, “Well the retail stores are different” “No they aren’t, you can do this from any store, I know because I’ve also worked at 3 different service providers” “Well we’ve tried it and Apple won’t let us”.

Now what he was probably thinking about was the second way of setting up a dispatch, where they actually set it up. It’s true that they can’t set a different return address in the system. But that wasn’t what I wanted them to do, and had told him so at least 3 times already by this point.

So I told him for the final time “Yes this can be done, I’ve already done it, the box is already on it’s way here, and it will come back to me in AZ when it ships back, it’s okay that you can’t or won’t do it, but I’m leaving now.”

This is something that I’ve seen at a lot of different resellers, including some that I’ve worked at. The tech immediately looked for a way to charge me, without listening to or understanding what I was saying. He then took my attempts to clarify as objections to the price he quoted me (which they weren’t), and tried to explain why he was charging what he was. Problem was, his justifications for the charges were for things I didn’t want or need them to do. Trying to clarify further again, only brought more justification, then denial that what I wanted to do was even possible. He had jumped to a conclusion before I had finished explaining the first time, then wouldn’t move from that conclusion even when I had shown it didn’t fit me. Instead he thought it would be good to just deny that Apple does what I was describing.

I understand the need for resellers and service providers to charge for their services. What made me angry here was not the price, but the immediate classification of what I wanted as a particular kind of service (which it wasn’t) which costs a particular amount, and a refusal to consider it as anything other than that. There was literally 5 minutes of work involved here. And this is BTW a service that the Apple stores do routinely, and don’t bat an eyelash at.

And while I understand that resellers need to make money, they shouldn’t try to nickel and dime people for every little thing they do. It’s okay to do some things for free to generate good will. If it takes less than 15 minutes, it’s probably okay to do for free. If you insist on charging for anything above talking to me, you’re going to come off as cheap and money grubbing, and you’re going to drive business away. Why would I buy from you when you’ve made it clear you’re going to try and extract every last penny from me?

In the age of Apple Stores, resellers have to provide service above and beyond the Apple Stores to compete. This is not what I’m seeing these days. Most resellers seem surly, customer hostile, and ungrateful for the business they get. There’s a reason Apple started the stores, and this is it.

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