Recently Apple added a a knowledge base article announcing that they are replacing frayed power adapters (sees also here). The wording of that artcle is:
Whether your product is in or out-of-warranty, you can take your adapter (you don’t need to take the computer, however, please do bring the computer’s serial number) to an Apple-Authorized Service Provider or Apple Retail Store for evaluation and replacement if necessary. The location of your computer’s serial number can be found in the following articles: MacBook and MacBook Pro. You may be eligible for a replacement adapter free of charge. Make a reservation at the Genius Bar before visiting your local Apple Retail Store. To make a reservation, go to http://www.apple.com/retail/geniusbar/.
Since my power adapter looks exactly that way, (well not exactly the problems are at the other end of the cable), and the MBP is only about 18 month old i thought it might be worth a try. I was not expecting too much, given Apple’s reputation wrt. customer friendlyness. Well i have to say that Apple unfortunately lived up to my expectations.
Episode 1: The flagship store
Since i was in NYC meeting with my friends at the AP, i first tried to exchange the power adapter on a sunday morning in the flagshipstore. Well, i wasn’t able to make a reservation at the genius bar (i”m told that you have to book far in advance). Hence i approached one of the regular staff. This guy wasn’t aware of the exchange program. After checking with some of his uppers i was told to exchange the adapter in germany (i ‘m one of these honest guys).
Sounded ok with me. I briefly thought about buying an adapter just to take advantage of the exchange rate and as an assurance if Apple wouldn’t exchange the adapter in germany. But i didn’t do it, because i was pretty sure that this was not going to happen.
Episode 2: The qualified german resellers
Back in germany i paid a visit to the Apple qualified reseller where the MBP was bought from (For those who don’t know, there are no Apple operated stores in germany. They checked with the Apple Care system, and found out that besides being told otherwise by the company, the computer wasn’t registered with Apple and had no warranty extension.
Don’t worry i thought, the knowledge base article said: “Whether your product is in or out-of-warranty,”. Asked about that the staff told me that i had to directly deal with Apple. Since another Apple store (this one of the biggest german Apple reseller) is only a couple of hundreds of metres away i tried my luck again there. To the exact same result, but they also handed me the number of the support hotline.
Episode 3: The support hotline
I then called the the support hotline (0.14 EUR/minute) and entered the usual loop. Approx. 45 minutes later and a couple of escalations to second level later i was confirmed that i was in fact eligible to a goodwill exchange of the adapter, but i had to provide the serial of the adapter itself in addition to the serial of the laptop. Unfortunately i wasn’t able to read the serial, even with my glasses on. Because the iPhone could not take pictures that focused on the serial, i first had to recharge my N95. Since the support hotline was about to close at 8pm (no 24h service in germany), i was given a ticket no. and told to call again the next morning.
So i charged the N95 and took a nice autofocused image of the serial and called again next morning, quite sure that finally everything was in place to exchange the adapter. How wrong i was! After a first escalation to second level I was told that the serial of the adapter itself was slightly off the number range of the exchange program, but only a little bit. How assuring :-) The knowledge base did not say anything about the serial of the adapter i answered, and i was told that there are rules and regulations they have to follow. The call agent then to another escalation route to customer relations in order to see if at least i could get a voucher for a few euros in the Apple store. But he also came back empty handed, saying that this was not unfortunately this also was not possible. Knowing that the agent itself could not do any more, i asked him to add a remark that this ticket was closed with a very dissatified customer.
Summary: 3+ hours of time and $25 spent for nothing but frustration
So in summary i spent 3+ hours and approx 25$ in phone fees and got nothing but frustration from Apple in exchange. In retrospect i should have bought the adapter in NYC knowing that Apple would never ever think about a goodwill exchange. This would have saved me 3 hours of my precious time and at least 50EUR (phone cost plus lower cost of the adapter in the states).
It is a shame that Apple customer relations isn’t even willing to give some of these bucks back as a voucher for the store, e.g. the phone costs. I’m only using Apple computers for 25 years (starting with an Apple II+). Right now the customer relations guy should have seen that registered only the following with Apple: 1 iBook, 1 Mac mini, 2 Mac Book Pro, 1 Apple TV, 1iPod 4G, 1 iPod nano, 1 iPod touch (not sure if the iPhone 3G is already registered).
Sure this amounts to nothing given Apple’s standards. Or they think they don’t need to do anything, because i’m stupid enough to i would stay loyal to their brand no matter what.
Maybe they shouldn’t be too sure . E.g. the new Samsung X 360 looks quite good, and i’m also a happy user of Ubuntu and Debian. I’m pretty sure that i could get Mac OS X running on this hardware too (if needed)