A couple of years ago I bought an iPod Touch and have been using it mainly when I travel. The other day I was checking the stuff I needed to take for my upcoming three week long US trip and found that the lowermost part of the iPod touch screen wasn’t responding. I could not adjust the volume slider in the Music application. Neither could I use the lowermost row of keys in the virtual keypad. I use my HP iPAQ for email and stuff. So I could live without a keypad. But adjusting volume was critical to me. After fiddling around I found that if you double-pressed the iPod button on the home screen, a volume control popped up in the center of the screen which was accessible. So the iPod was usable but it would be irritating to do that every time I wanted to adjust the volume.
So as a first step I logged into iTunes and paid Apple $4.95 to update the iPod software to version 3.1.1. That didn’t help. So without anything better to do I handed the iPod to the Apple Service Center in my city. I told them that I had already restored the iPod to the latest software version and thought that it looked like a hardware problem. They told me that it wasn’t a big deal and that they would fix it.
A day later, I got a call from the Service Center telling me that they would need to restore my iPod and wanted to know if they could go ahead since all my data would be erased. I gave them the green signal. Today I got a call from them asking me to collect my iPod. I went over and I was handed a service bill of 350 Rupees (about $8). There was one item on the bill titled “Diagnosis of problem without repair“. The conversation went like this.
Me: You couldn’t fix it?
Apple: No Sir. We restored the iPod. But that did not solve the problem.
Me: I already restored it before I got it here. I told you, remember?
Apple: Yes Sir. We tried it again. But that didn’t help. This is a hardware problem.
Me: I guessed as much. That’s why I brought it to you. Did you try replacing the touch screen?
Apple: We do not open iPods.
Me: What?!! What do you mean you do not open iPods? Do I need to take to another service station?
Apple: No sir. We do not open iPods in India.
A moments silence as I took this in.
Me: Hang on a second. How did you conclude that it was a hardware problem if you did not even open it?
Apple: We tried restoring it, and that didn’t work. So it must be a hardware problem.
Me: OK. Help me understand something here. You are selling something that you do not even know to open?
Me: So now what? What do I do with this thing?
Apple: Sir, if it was under warranty then we would replace it for you free of cost.
Me: You bloody well should. If you, being an Apple service station, can’t open an iPod, then you had better have a room full of replacement iPods. OK, so my iPod is out of warranty. Now what?
Apple: We can take back your iPod and give you a new one for 8,000 Rupees.
Me: Eight grand? How much is a new one?
Apple: 12,400 Rupees. But you will get only three months warranty for the new iPod.
Me: Why only three months?
Apple: Err… I don’t know, Sir.
Me: OK, let me see if I have understood this right. You manufactured and sold an iPod that you cannot or will not even open. And now you are willing to buy it back for a third of the price and give me a brand new one with a warranty of only three months.
Apple: That’s right, Sir.
Me: So if this new one conks off a day after three months, I will again need to pay you eight grand to get a new piece.
Apple: Err… Yes Sir.
Me: And to tell me all of this you are charging me 350 bucks.
Apple: Sir, the 350 Rupees is for the inspection of the iPod.
Me: What inspection? You did not even open it. Tell me something, what exactly did you do with my iPod for the past two days?
Apple: Sir, we restored it.
Me: I already did that you…
I cut myself short. By now, I was pissed. Shit pissed. So before I said or did something that I would later regret I decided to pay up and get the hell out of the place. There was no way I was going to pay eight grand for a new iPod that came with only three months warranty, especially since they would not fix it if it broke. Moreover, the iPod was usable. So till the time that I bought something else this would do.
Me: Never mind. Here is 350 bucks.
Apple: Sir, I will need a photo ID.
Me: Here’s my driver’s license.
Apple: Sir, I will need a photocopy.
Me: Why? Will I look different in a photocopy? Go ahead and take a photocopy.
Apple: Sir, we don’t have a copying machine in the office. There is a shop across the street. You can get one there.
At this point it is a miracle how I didn’t burst a blood vessel. I waited a few seconds for my rage to settle down, then coldly look into this guy’s eyes as if I was going to pluck them out and said, “You know what? I am going to put this money in your pocket, take my iPod from your hand and walk out of that door.” And I followed to do precisely that.
This may be a cultural thing. In the country that I come from, you don’t simply pay twelve grand for something and then throw it away after a while. Twelve grand is a month’s salary here. Is it even legal to sell an electronic item that you refuse to even open.
A while ago I was looking for advice on buying a notebook since my HP tx2000 refused to respond to my brute force techniques. Quite a few people on Twitter and Facebook advised me to go for a Macbook. No freaking way. Do these Apple morons here in India even know to open Macbooks? I will be surprised if they do because common sense dictates that a Macbook is way more complicated than an iPod. Unless Apple considers the iPod to be something like a condom – use and throw.