minutia press.
Apple store's (non) guarantee

The display of an iBook I bought two months ago just bit the dust, and so I called the Apple support number to find out how and where to get it fixed. I had to wait 20 minutes until somebody could help me, but it just took a few minutes after that to find out that there's a place in Clayton that does repairs.

It turns out the Clayton place had to mail my iBook to Apple for repair but they expect it back in 10 days.

Then I went to the Apple Store in West County Mall to pick up something for my kids. I noticed they had no their wall "3 day turnaround guarantee on repairs". I asked the cashier if I could have brought my iBook here instead of Clayton for repair, and of course the answer was "yes". So, I asked, it would have been reayd in 3 days right? Well... no, because they are so swamped with repairs they would have sent it to Apple like the Clayton place did. But what of their posted 3-day turnaround guarantee? Well, the guy says, that's only if they have parts and the labor staff to do the repair. I didn't see any such fine print on their sign, and pointed it out to the cashier, but he didn't seem to get my point.


I'm sure I'll be flamed for this, but based on the anecdotal information I read on blogs, Apple products don't seem to be very robust. It seems that everyone has problems with their products within a year of buying them. I'm wondering if this is because of a form over function mentality at Apple or just shoddy workmanship.

Posted by: david at August 19, 2004 2:29 PM


It looks like you can't follow anecdotal evidence based on a few weblogs that you read...

Posted by: Nathan at August 20, 2004 7:41 AM

Actually, based on that chart and its 3% margin or error it seems that almost all laptop brands stack up the same. The chart also doesn't present the full picture since a product that requires one repair is treated the same as a product that required multiple repairs. A better statistic would tell me the number of repairs required, on average, over a three year period.

Posted by: david at August 20, 2004 8:28 AM

You're right. That would be better. But I think it does show that, in general, Apple is no better or worse than anyone.

Posted by: Nathan at August 20, 2004 8:51 AM

Right, but given that they all break, what's the hassle involved in getting the laptop fixed? I haven't had a single Dell problem yet so I can't say, but my Apple experience so far is fine.

I think that store should take down their sign about 3-day turnaround guarantees though!

Posted by: rkc at August 20, 2004 9:34 AM

I haven't had any problems with my Dell laptop either, but in general it seems that most laptops need to be shipped back for repairs while larger desktop units can be fixed locally. And I totally agree with you about the non-guaranteed three day guarantee.

Posted by: david at August 20, 2004 11:42 AM

I haven't had to deal with Dell, but my Apple experience was great, and I have found IBM to be okay.

Posted by: Nathan at August 20, 2004 12:01 PM

Everyone at work (including me) has a Dell laptop and from what I can tell so far no one has problems with them besides self-inflicted software ones (installing wacky toolbars and spyware). I still find it amusing that Nathan finds his Apple experience great when he's had to send his laptop in for repairs. Sounds like someone drank the Kool-Aid... ;-)

Posted by: Chris Hill Festival at August 21, 2004 5:51 PM

More anecdotes. I've owned three Apple laptops in the last three years, two iBooks and one Powerbook. My iBook 500 was an Apple refurb, and is still going strong with its third owner (girlfriend's roommate). My iBook 800 caught on fire outside of its Applecare warranty, but Apple fixed it for free with a four day turnaround, and it's still chugging along with its second owner (my girlfriend). I haven't had any troubles with my Powerbook and have been very happy with it.

I'm an Apple advoacate, and when my friends are looking at buying a laptop I point them in the direction of Apple and HP. I like Apple, and everyone I know with a Costco HP (my dad, by boss, and coworker) has been very happy with them. I also think that they are by far the most attractive PC laptops out there. I tell people to avoid Dell. We bought a whole bunch of them at work, and every one has been sent back to have hard drives, memory, or video cards repaired. Dealing with Dell technical support has been nightmarish.

I think that Apple's biggest problem is releasing products without sufficient QA testing. You're seeing it with the 15" powerbook battery recall and the 4G iPod static issues. However, I think that Apple is very responsive towards their engineering failures.

Oh, and Ron, I would suggest turning the iBook around when you get it back and upgrading to a 12" Powerbook. The education discount provides a pretty good deal, and with the memory maxed out it works great.

Posted by: Chris at August 23, 2004 12:18 PM

I'm a bit late to the party here, but I'll toss my hat in anyway.

I've invoked the AppleCare warranty on my 12" PowerBook twice, once to replace a broken power adapter and once to get a replacement LCD screen due to a cluster of dead pixels that cropped up.

Funny enough, my last laptop was a PC, and it too happened to have developed dead pixels and a dead power adapter after just over a year. And those same things I didn't get replaced for free.

Between the slighly flimsy housing on my old machine and the bad power adapter, I probably dropped $300 to purchase replacement parts and a whole lot of headaches spent laboring over a dismantled laptop trying to fix it myself.

I paid $249 for the 2-year warranty extension and spent $800 less on this computer than I did on my last laptop, so as far as I'm concerned I've come out pretty far ahead in a monetary sense. What "would" have gone dead already likely has, and I've got two years more of warranty coverage left on this in case anything decides to go out anyway.

The only gripe I had about the AppleCare service was that they sat on the computer for a few days at the Apple Store before sending it off to California for the work to get done. Even in spite of that, they overnight shipped it to my office per their standard policy and it was still back in my hands the day they had quoted me in the beginning.

Posted by: ben at August 23, 2004 11:48 PM