June 10, 2012 01:44
Posted by Jeremy Durham
People who’ve never owned an Apple product tell me that I’ve paid too much. They tell me that I could probably build something better, cheaper. I’ve probably had the best customer experiences ever from Apple, but first I’m going to talk about the other side. The bottom of the barrel products that the companies they produced could care less about, and what kind of support you can expect for these products.
Last August I was involved in the HP Touchpad “firesale”, and I managed to purchase two tablets. The first tablet has been fine, has worked great since day 1, and it won’t be the topic of this article. The second tablet is the one I want to discuss.
Because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the tablet, it sat until around December. When I first started the tablet, it went into infinite reboot on startup. After troubleshoot the issue, it was obvious it needed to go back. I called HP and was greeted by their support team, which determined, after about 15 minutes or so that the tablet needed to be returned. I was sent a box to return the tablet, and a week or so later, I received a new tablet, and was informed that my tablet was not repairable. This was sometime in January.
After a few hours with the new tablet, it was pretty obvious something was wrong. Every time the tablet went to sleep and sat for 15-20 minutes, I had to forceable reboot the tablet by pressing the sleep and home button, or worse: the tablet would just automatically reboot. I went through all the steps of WebOS doctoring (wiping) the tablet, and after a week or so of messing around called HP. This time it was much different. I spent about a half hour troubleshooting with HP, going through various steps with support. We decided to send back the tablet for repair. Another box at my door, wait a week or so, get a new tablet, and test it out. At this point it was around February.
I won’t detail any more of the incident, but I want to get to the important points. At this point, I’ve sent back a tablet four times, waited a week or two each time, and I am about to send the tablet back for a fifth time, but this time, they’re going to give me a tablet first so I can make sure it works. I’ve probably spent about 4-5 hours of my time on the phone with HP support, not including the countless hours I spent troubleshoot before calling them, and I am still hoping that my next Touchpad will work. Sure, I only paid $150 in cash for the tablet, but how much is my time worth?
In my situation about, the company is HP, but it could just as well be anyone. My point is, before you go off buying some device because it’s “uber” cheap, make sure the company is going to stand behind it. Better yet, reward the companies that treat you well with more business, and punish companies that treat you poorly with no business.
I started this article with Apple, so I want to talk about why I happily hand my money to Apple. Every Apple device I’ve ever bought was a refurbished device. Every iPhone, every iPod, every laptop. That means I paid somewhere between 10-15% lower than “retail”, and my device came in a little brown box.
I’ve also had a few situations where my Apple device has misbehaved, been defective, or failed. In every situation, my problem was solved, the first time, in under an hour. The best story I can tell is when my hard drive died when I opened my laptop after landing 1000 miles from home. I called the Apple store while still sitting on the plane, who made me an appointment for 30 minutes later. After replacing the hard drive in less than 15 minutes (with OS preinstalled), they gave me the old hard drive (without me asking), allowing me to recover all of the data. Total amount of money I paid for these repairs? $0. It was within the warranty period, but they handled it the way you would expect it to be handled.
This is one of the main reasons I buy Apple products, and will continue to buy Apple products. I write software for a living, I don’t sit on the phone with support people for hours upon end while they can’t solve my issues. I don’t send devices back 4-5 times before they are fixed, losing months of use. Well, actually I do. But when I do, I never buy another product from that company again. I hope you consider doing the same.