Apple – your warranty policies have lost you a customer

Thank you Apple, for all your glitz and glamor and style over substance, you’ve lost a potential customer, and I hope with this blog entry many more will be better informed about your policies when they choose a portable music device.
My wife bought me an iPod mini last year for my birthday, and within 2 months the click wheel started to fail. So, I sent it back to Apple and after a 10-12 week delay (for some reason they lost it) and many hours spent on the phone trying to sort it out it was replaced and a new unit was sent to me.
About 1 month ago, my replacement iPod mini started to exhibit exactly the same symptoms. The click wheel becomes unresponsive, and will start to act of it’s own accord (as I type this, my iPod is clicking happily to itself on the desk next to me). I was doing some tests and it appears to occur more under low battery conditions than otherwise.
So, I rang Apple today to see what can be done, and I’ve been informed that the device is 2 months out of warranty, so they’re not doing anything. What the fuck ? Nothing, nada. The device is still in perfect condition, there are no scratches, issues, anything with the device, and I only use it travelling on the train to-and-from work.
I explained that I didn’t want a replacement iPod mini anyway because there were obviously issues with the device, and I was willing to accept a discount on a Nano, or other iPod as a replacement.
The customer service operator went away “to discuss with colleagues”, and then came back with a “it’s 2 months out of warranty, we’re not doing anything”. When I questioned this I was told “no manufacturer would do anything outside the warranty period, and after talking with my colleagues there are no known issues with the click-wheel”.
Well, that’s funny, when my Subaru lunched a gearbox last year, it was nearly a year out of warranty, however the dealer was able to identify that it was a collapsed bearing in the gearbox, so even though it was out of warranty, Subaru replaced the gearbox for free as part of my service. (I paid for labour) So, my iPod clicking on the desk next to me reminding me of the difference between good customer service, and crap customer service.
Guess what ? I’m buying a Subaru Liberty next year when I get a new car. Yes, it’s a good car, but what really clinched it was the customer service I got when something went wrong.
So, I’ll be going out today to buy another portable music device, and it’s not an Apple. And it never will be. And neither will the presents for my wife, or children, or nieces and nephews. Oh, and my work colleagues who are standing next to me wondering why my iPod is clicking and flashing, I can’t imagine that they’ll be too interested in purchasing your products when they hear this story.
Gosh, that’s a lot of money Apple. All because you were unwilling to extend your customer service appropriately, just think if you’d been willing to give me a discount on a Nano (which is all I really was interested in) then this blog entry would never have taken place, and there would have been a different one, saying how great your service is.
Edit: My wife will be buying me a new MP3 player for Christmas. Any recommendations out there ? I’m leaning towards a Creative Zen of some form after having a great experience with my Creative Nomad for 5+ years.
Edit: Mine is an iPod mini – I’ve heard nothing but good things about the 20Gb+ iPods regarding reliability.

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To Ruby evangelists: Be careful of what you wish for.

I watch with interest from the sidelines as the ADD crowd launch into the failures of Java and how terribly difficult it is to use etc. I watch as they struggle for recognition of their favourite language and framework and about how much “better” it is. I read the blogs from both sides of the fence and occasionally taunt Rubyistas that I know (like Jon Tirsen), but that’s out of fun, not spite.
I’m a Java guy, have been for years. I was a C guy, was for years. I’ll be a Ruby guy if I need to. Like what Michael Yuan says, the language is the lowest lever on a software project (and something I’ve blogged about before). (Oh, and Ruby guys, cut Michael some slack, he’s a J2ME developer, one of the most marginalised of the Java developers, only slightly about JINI developers. He knows exactly the pain you’re going through. Read the damn article.)
Now, here’s a little history for your Ruby-on-rails zealots. I was a Java evangelist (and some would say I still am) for meany years, and suffered the same issues in trying to get Java to replace C++ for development when it was suitable and warranted it. I’m very happy that I’ve been able to do that, and it was a positive experience.
Those times are past, and Java is the de-facto standard. All the evangelists have packed their bags and have either moved to Ruby or Python or whatever, or are happily living in Java land (like me). What happened after the early adopters and the evangelists arrived is the vast amount of “developers” who were now using Java that basically are mind-numbing morons.
They have no interest in software development as a craft, so out comes the mind-numbing crap (3000 line long methods anybody ?) and the fodder for the next set of evangelists to latch onto. Wow, so is it a great surprise that morons produce worse code than the early adopters ? It’s not Java, it’s the morons.
Soon, when Ruby (on Rails) becomes the new defacto standard for simple web development, and the VB morons who became Java morons will be forced to become Ruby morons.
It appears that the worst possible thing that could happen to a language or platform is when it becomes the new de-facto standard. The corporate developers just screw it up for the rest of them. Look at the grumpy old guys who lament lost loves like Smalltalk, Lisp and to a lesser extent Python. Languages while not dead, but never made it into the mainstream/corporate and remained with highly motivated, early adopters that continue to produce high quality solutions with those languages.
So, with all that said – do you really want Ruby on Rails to become the next big thing ? Or would it be better if it was kept quiet and just used by people who know what they are doing ?
In some ways I wish Java wasn’t as popular as it is today. But maybe I shouldn’t wish for that either….