I Heart Apple

No, not the Big Apple, although I heart that, too.  I'm talking about the computer company.  And yes, my aunt is a senior executive there, so that may make me a little biased.  But the truth is, Rob and I are relatively recent converts.  We bought our first Mac, a laptop, two and a half years ago.  Last December, it was stolen, but by that time we had purchased a desktop as well.  Yes, it's sleek and sexy and looks much nicer than a TV, so we didn't mind getting rid of ours to make room.  But it also works perfectly.

Okay, so the hard drive failed last week.  This was our first computer problem since converting to Apple products.  But here's the upside:

  • We got to call Customer Service. Yes, I know, this is usually equated with "We got to spend a week in purgatory."  But when I call AppleCare, I almost always end up in a friendly conversation with the representative.  They're real people who speak English and take a genuine (or genuinely faked) interest in your case.  And more importantly, THEY CAN HELP YOU.  I even call them about small problems, like "I can't figure out how to burn this DVD properly."  They'll talk you through each step without putting you on hold, treating you with contempt or trying to sell you something.  When you realize all of this, $150 is a small price to pay for the extended warranty, which gives you three years of unlimited quality service on your machine.

  • They replaced the drive for free. No questions asked.  We didn't have to give them a credit card number "just in case."  They didn't try to charge us for labor or shipping.  We didn't have to wait in line.  We just brought the computer in.

  • Everyone is honest, at least everyone I've met. Case in point: while putting the computer back together, they accidentally dropped and broke the monitor glass.  They immediately called me at home (around 10 PM, an hour after the store closed) to apologize and say they would order a replacement immediately.  Apologize, people, with no excuses: just "We feel really stupid about this, and we're so sorry."  I felt like I had traveled back in time to the period when (so my grandparents say) the customer was always right, and the shopkeeper was humbly mindful of this fact.

  • We didn't lose anything. Apple comes with a program called Time Machine, which is effortless: you plug in an external hard drive, which backs up every hour, day, week and month.  You can "travel back in time" to retrieve something you accidentally deleted, and if you have to replace your hard drive or your computer, just plug in the external drive and everything is transferred automatically.

We had to do without a computer for a week: that's life.  When I confessed to one Tech Support agent that I was experiencing symptoms of withdrawal, he responded, "Wow, I honestly don't know what that's like.  I'm a Tech Support agent, so I always have a working computer."

"Oh," I said.  "So, when your computer has problems, do you call yourself up and put yourself on hold?"  We both laughed, and then I asked him one of my all-time favorite questions for anyone in the retail or service industry: what's the dumbest thing anyone's ever asked you?

Well, he said, this question is pretty common: before the agent can help you, he needs to know the serial number of the computer, which is printed on the bottom of the monitor.  After sharing this information, he said, most people respond: "Do I have to pick it up?"