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Talkin' Smack: Apple's Back End Stinks
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Of course, the Apple Store is at the heart of it all right now, specifically their refusal to exchange defective merchandise. They'll take it in for repairs, sure, but they'll send it back in just the same condition, as often as not. So, unless you plan to find all the defects of a product you buy from the Apple Store within the first 30 days, during which time the law requires all mail order companies to accept returns, you're out of luck.

When a company manufactures and retails its own products, it has a particular responsibility to take care of any and all problems its customers experience—without hassle, cost or delay. Until Apple accepts this reality, I say don't shop at the Apple Store. The store carries nothing of value you can't find elsewhere anyway, so just avoid it whenever you can.

Deal with a mail order company you trust.

For purchases other than memory, I wholeheartedly recommend MacWarehouse. Their prices are in the ballpark, though not the lowest, but their customer service, in my experience, is unparalleled. A little anecdote: Some time ago I bought a monitor from them (their own house brand). At that particular point in time, it was the lowest-priced 17" monitor available, and shipped with a Mac video adapter as an added bonus at no additional cost. A year after I bought it, the thing went dead. But I called them up, and they replaced it. The next monitor also went dead. I called them up again, and they replaced it again. Mind you, this was 18 months after my original purchase. Not only did they pay shipping both ways, but since the time I bought it, the monitor's price had dropped by $50. They refunded me the difference. Then that monitor went bad. Guess what? They not only replaced it, paying shipping both ways, but they replaced it with a more expensive Viewsonic monitor, which still works today.

Now, this might not say much for their house brand, but that's not the point. They stand behind their products and go out of their way to serve their customers. I've made virtually all of my purchases from them ever since. Can anyone think of any companies that could possibly learn from this little parable?

We love our Macs despite the company that makes them. We will continue to buy Macs despite the company that makes them. But until such time as Apple is ready to deal with us as valued customers, to hell with their online store. I'll take my retail business elsewhere.

I invite you all to post your anecdotes at the Creative Mac user forum about good or bad experiences you've had.

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Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital DTP; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, DCC Designer, DCC Workstation, Digital DTP, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, ProAudio.net and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.

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