The past year or so since getting a Macbook Pro I’ve been a fairly vocal Apple fan, but a couple incidents recently leave me wondering if they are running the risk of alienating their best customers - the early adopters who will pay premium amounts to have the latest gear that looks good and works well. I’ll say up front that this is going to come off as a bit of a rant but in the midst of all the iPhone hype and the building interest in the rumored ultra-portable Mac laptop I think this needs to be said:
- I use an Airport Extreme as my main wireless access point and it works mostly well: great coverage and throughput for basic browsing. But it does not support Wi-Fi multimedia and therefore my T-Mobile UMA phone does not work with it. I was charged $50 by their tech support to figure this out, even though they somehow managed to (repeatedly, nonetheless) get the Airport Extreme certified for Wi-Fi Multimedia. Yes, I know I was calling and consuming valuable technical resources outside of the 90 day post-purchase support period but this is a crappy way to treat a customer when a key selling point for most of your products is, um, Multimedia. Better approach would be to admit the lack of support at Tier 1 support, not Tier 3 and just not charge me for helping research your own product’s failing to do what you had it certified as being able to do.
- I recently bought a Mac Mini for a home entertainment server / family computer that I plan to hook up to our plasma tv (shhh…don’t tell my kids as it’s a Christmas present). Knowing what I wanted, I walk into my local Apple Store and drop about $1000 on the Mini and related items in 5 minutes, only to be told in a curt tone by one of the staff (all of whom were dressed like they just got done with a long night at a rave) that “return period is 14 days, if opened a 10% restocking fee.” I received no “thank you,” no “have a nice day” after basically walking up with my credit card out and practically screaming “easy profit right here!” I’m no sales expert but isn’t one of the basics of salesmanship the idea of making your customers feel good about spending a fair chunk of money so quickly, even if it’s with something as cheap to produce as a smile?
Apple: I get that you are largely a design, marketing and hype building organization. I knew that going in but I like your design and will always pay a premium for good “kit” as the Brits would say. That said, please get off your high horse and don’t push your luck with my buying intentions - especially if you want me to drop what will likely be another three grand on your ultraportable laptop when it comes out. A good place to start with me (if you want my continued business and evangelicism) would be to begin acting like we have an actual customer relationship. At least “PC-guy” on your commercials has manners. Try learning from him a bit.