I’ve been a Mac user for a long time. The first Mac I owned was a Motorola StarMax beige tower, which means that I went off to college before the original iMac. That’s before the time best known as Steve Jobs 2.
My dad, who I had to convince to buy me that Mac, now works on a MacBook Pro. My roommate, who laughed at my computer and then used it to play Swoop, has been using Macs for almost a decade.
Bits, which is my place for the two things Bobert says I do best, has featured a lot of Apple ranting recently, and I am frequently asked why I stick with Apple if I don’t like their policies, or why I got a new iPhone if I hate AT&T.
The answer is simple: because every time they have the opportunity to influence my decision-making Apple does a wonderful job.
This doesn’t mean Apple is flawless. It also doesn’t mean I’m immune to competition, to news sites and friends, and to other products. What it means is that when the ball is in Apple’s court they hit a home run.
I write this up today because today I took Tara’s iPad in to the Apple store in downtown SF. The screen had some streaks on it that continued to re-appear after cleaning. They looked as though the glue that holds the display in to the bezel was leaking slightly. At first I thought they came from the glue used on the black plastic portion that houses the 3G antenna, but after a month we noticed them on the other end as well, around the home button. They look like dirt or finger print oil, except that they originate at the black edge of the glass and streak inwards, on two sides. After two months, we knew it was a defect, and I scheduled a Genius Bar appointment online.
I worked for several years in quality control in China. I am very aware of the realities of manufacturing defects and error rates. While it is sad to get a new product that has a defect, and while production processes can usually be improved, unless there’s a problem at a scale that warrants a recall, what matters is not the flaw, but how it’s handled.
The way we treat each other is key. What I am looking for from Apple and other companies is not products that never have problems, but companies that treat their customers well when problems are discovered.
This morning I walked in to the Apple store at 10:04 and checked in on the second level. I waited on a bench for around five minutes for my name to be called, and then showed my Genius rep the iPad, screen off so that the streaks were immediately visible. She took it, looked at them, asked the next Genius over if he thought wipes and alcohol would work, took it in the back and tried to clean it. She was gone for three minutes. When she came back she promptly told me she would replace it as cleaning it hadn’t worked. She pulled out a new iPad, had me sign the paperwork, swapped SIM cards, wiped the old iPad, and we were done. The total time was 25 minutes, most of which was spent activating the new iPad, wiping the old one, and swapping SIM cards.
I left the store completely happy and texted Tara to tell her the good news.
There’s no joy in finding a problem with something. Making an appointment, taking it in, being potentially without it for a few days or weeks, those are all unpleasant things. They are also almost impossible to avoid. The only things a company can control are their products pre-sale and their treatment of their customers at all times.
To fix my problem Apple’s staff treated me kindly, listened to me respectfully, didn’t question my honesty or intelligence, and repaired the original flaw in the product promptly.
That’s why they keep getting my money.