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Friday, March 10, 2006

Apple customer service - whose hard drive is it?

Heidi Miller's hard drive went kerflooey. Hey, it happens. But what followed is a little surprising.

After bringing her ibook in to her local Apple store for repair, the hard drive was proclaimed to be dead and a new drive would be $300. She had anticipated that such would be the verdict and had a specialist standing by to do data recovery on the dead drive. But when she asked for her old drive, she was informed that it now belonged to Apple. She could have it back temporarily, but if she didn't return it in 30 days her credit card would be charged an additional $300.

Heidi was put in contact via email with Robin Roberts, a media relations person for Apple, and asked some reasonable questions. Such as:

  • Does Apple get a rebate on returned hard drives?
  • If so, how much is that rebate?
  • If not, why is the customer charged $300 to maintain ownership of her own hard drive?
  • What is done with the hard drives that Apple retains? Are they returned for the rebate?
  • Are they refurbished and resold?

Robin responded that she would be happy to talk with Heidi over the phone but would not answer the questions as they 'relate to internal data that we will not discuss'.

Over in the comments section of For Immediate Release (where Lee Hopkins' report brought the story to my attention), Macfan has provided the relevant paragraph from the work authorization form.

“4. If repairing your product under warranty or extended service contract, Apple may use new, used or reconditioned parts, if permitted by the terms. If repairing parts outside of warranty or extended service contract, Apple may use new, used or reconditioned parts. Apple will retain the replaced part that is exchanged under repair service as its property, and the replacement part will become your property. Replaced parts are generally repairable and are exchanged or repaired by Apple for value. If applicable law requires Apple to return a replaced part to you, you agree to pay Apple the additional cost of the replacement items.”

This, to my mind, still doesn't explain why Heidi was to be charged $300 - full retail - for her original drive which was still just as broken as when she brought it in. And I'm left wondering how a company as savvy and slick as Apple can be so clumsy in its customer relations.


At 12:33 PM, Heidi Miller said...

I agree. I'm disappointed not only with the policy itself, but with Apple's refusal to comment on it or join in the conversation. Quite a change from the stellar service and participation that has been their hallmark for so long.

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