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On Cutting in Line

PowerBook and Dell, fronts

First, it’s always endearing to see that the Apple Hoard is still in full-force. Thanks to the iPod-halo, Dvorak’s Gambit applies stronger than ever: writing anything remotely negative about Apple get instance attention.

I’ve been lucky enough to still be on the PPC platform with my PowerBook and the service has been just fine so far. In fact, when I had it in the shop last, the Genius commented something along the lines of, “oh, with your PowerBook it will be no problem.” That is, reading between the lines, he could be interpreted as saying, “good thing you don’t have a MacBook.”

Back when the MacBooks came out, when I heard there were no more 12″ Titanium laptops I was quite miffed. I’ve come to find the 12″ PowerBook the perfect size: it works as a desktop (optionally, with an additional monitor), a laptop in the living room, on airplanes, for bed time reading, and anywhere I want to take it. While the 13″ may prove to be the same should I get one someday, my opinion was “why screw with a good thing?” And plastic casings? What up with that?

In short, I’m a fanatic about my 12″ PowerBook.

Members of the Best Platform Deserve the Best Support

PC Home Movie

Several commenters reprimanded Dave for expecting faster customer service from Apple. Seven to ten days seemed lengthy for him. The funnier streak were people getting on Dave’s case for worrying that his space bar was squeky, e.g.:

Oh yeah my keys make noise and I don’t like to wait for service.
Please for the sake of the wasted bits in your blogs trade in your Mac for a Dell. And blog PC users with your inane blather.

Now, the response to this is best expressed with an analogy: if I went out and bought a BMW with tinted windows, if that tint started to bubble and sag, I’d be rightously pissed. You don’t buy a BMW so that you can live with annoying little problems, you buy it because you want perfection. (I should mention I don’t know if BMW’s are perfection — I drive a Volvo — but you get the point.)

The same is true for an Apple. I could go out and buy a Dell or even a ThinkPad and I’ll be accepting of annoying little problems (though less with the ThinkPad). In fact, much to her consternation, when Kim, my wife, had a Dell I’d often tell her, “oh, it’s just a Dell with Windows…what do you expect?” when she had “little problems.”

For me the point is not that I want to be treated like a “business user,” nor do I want to pay that premium. But I do want to be treated like someone who paid a premium for my laptop, which I did and will more than likely continue to do.

Call it a “luxury user.” To be frank, that is the story Apple has sold for the past 10+ years, right into it’s current PC vs. Mac campaign. Luxury is their brand. We all know that being an Apple customer means the door man will lift the velvet rope for us, letting us cut in line, while those suited, “productivity” losers wait outside writing their Excel macros…

Of course, the funny thing is that there actually is a cut-in-line card you can get, the ProCare card — strangly, only available in-store.

Paying for The Bitch Option

Sure, it’s “bitchy” to complain about a squeaking spacebar and 7-10 day turn around time. But I feel like I, and any other Apple customer, has paid to have the privilege of being bitchy and picky. It is Steve Jobs’s world we’re buying into after-all. Otherwise, we might as well go get a ThinkPad: after having used one for a week they’re not so bad except for the OS…and I understand their service is stealer.

Disclaimer: MuleSource is a client.

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5 Responses

  1. Hmmm… I don't know if his service comparsion is fair: He's talking about retail service in one of the physical locations compared to vendor service.

    Also, it's not like Apple can realistically give out loaners: They'd have to have backups of all the different models they were servicing in every store and be able to keep track of those.

    My campus has a loaner program with our Computer Repair service, but they only have one model per year so they can do hard drive swaps.

  2. which annoying little problems with Thinkpads were you referring to. i'm on my third, and the next one will be the first.

    well, problems that i have not created myself, i mean 😉

  3. It's on Kim's Dell that most of the "annoying little problems" occured. The only problem she has on her T43 is that is doesn't come out of sleep very quickly at times.

  4. IBM gives out loaners, at least to some people. And they have far more models available than Apple. In fact, Apple only has a few models. In fact, Apple has a way to migrate stuff from your old Mac to your new one. 90% of service customers would probably be happy enough with a 'almost' device than another. Wait! Why not just give out a fully loaded to the gils MacBook Pro? Maybe you'll get some MacBook users wanting to 'upgrade'. There's really no excuse for not giving out a loaner if the machine's going to be gone for more than a week. Some of the random shutdown folks had machines in service for more than four weeks.

    I definitely feel Dave's pain. I've been at the Genius Bar maybe 5-6 times, and only once did I not feel like I was being treated like an idiot, and told that my machine was working "to spec". The only once time was the most recent visit, my 3rd random shutdown repair in 6 weeks, where I didn't even have to 'prove' my machine had the random shutdown, and the repair was completed in 16 hours (overnight! dropped off at 5pm; called me to tell me work was done next day at 9am). The Genius even noticed a Smalltalk (Ambrai) icon in my dock and asked me about it! But it was more than the genius this time (though that helped). Apple apparently, after months of not doing so, had started telling support folks about the random shutdown problem with the MacBooks.

    The only thing I can say in Apple's defense is that there a LOT of folks's who take stuff into the Genius bar for the most trivial matters. How do I use Finder kind of stuff. After a while, I can see how they'd treat every customer as someone who has no idea what's going on, and treating every technically minded person as someone trying to pull something over on 'em.

    My most gratifying experience was, after my 2nd random shutdown repair, the genius brought the machine out, powered it up, and the screen filled with random colored lines. "Oh no, we'll have to send this back, they didn't fix it", he says. (um, 10 more days???). "No, I can fix that", I tells him. PRAM-reset, video resolution change, voila. Yes, sometimes the Geniuses are wrong, and sometimes the Discussion Forums are right.

  5. That's some nice background, Patrick. It does strike me that Apple should give out loaners…esp. if you've purchased additional AppleCare. Indeed, maybe they could add it as a feature to their swanky ProCare club…