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Apple Got It Right In The End

This is a consumer’s tale. It starts ugly, but ends in the right place.

A couple weeks ago, my iPod Nano died. iPods have a “lock” switch on them that turns off the wheel control so you can shove it in your pocket and not inadvertantly turn the volume up to 11. I got on the T, headed into work, locked the iPod, and put it in my shirt pocket. I took it out to change the volume, and the lock switch was stuck. It wouldn’t unlock. My iPod was going to keep playing until the battery died. I went to the Apple website and found that I had a 1-year warranty. The iPod was 10 months old, so I figured I was set. I filled out the online form, they sent me a box, I sent them my iPod – it was very smooth. Here’s where it got sticky.

They sent me back my iPod, still broken, with a form letter. The form letter indicated that there were four possible reasons why it was rejected – but they didn’t check any of the boxes. I’m a bit suspicious that the iPod was in the same plastic bag. I’m not sure they even opened it, though I’m not sure of that. Obviously, I wasn’t happy.

So, I took the iPod to the Apple store in the Cambridgeside Galleria. The guy at the desk in the back of the store listened to my story and looked at the iPod and the form letter. He decided that the rejection was because the screen was cracked. I showed him that it wasn’t a crack, but it was a protective plastic film (that I’d bought at Apple!) for the screen that was a bit delaminated. He pointed to a dent in the back of the iPod, and said that voided my warranty. As far as I was concerned, he didn’t have to fix the dent, but he did have to fix the switch at the top. He offered to take my iPod as a trade in, and he’d give me 10% off my next iPod. I told him quite clearly that that was not an option. There were a lot of ways this might end, but me giving Apple a few hundred bucks in order to get them to honor the warranty was not one of them. I asked to speak to a manager.

She was equally polite and listened. She also pointed to the dent, but I repeated that I didn’t care about the dent, I only cared about the switch. She said that she’d go in back and check the service record and see if that gave any more information. I thought that was a great idea.

Several minutes later, a third guy, Ed, came out. He told me the system was down and they couldn’t check the iPod history. He said that it was unusual, but he would replace my Nano with a new one. I thought that was a perfectly fine solution. Black wasn’t available (like I care!), and I got silver instead. I’ve been using it this week, and it’s been good.

Bottom line: Apple should have honored the warranty in the first place, but they got it right in the end. It was a legitimate claim. If it wasn’t legitimate, they needed to explain why: checking a checkbox on the form letter is a good start. Similarly, the first guy at the Apple store should have been more interested in helping me. I get the feeling that he was just doing what he was told, meaning that it wasn’t his fault. And in the end, compliments to Ed and to Apple. They got it right, kept me happy, get a good posting, and my continued business.