Apple’s Stupid Warranty Policy
I’ve never been a fan of Apple. And before people start piling on, let just note that I was largely responsible for supporting Northwestern University’s Apple Macintosh labs (from about 1986-1988) and teaching the portion of a microcomputer literacy class that focused on Macs. I was even a participant in an Apple program to encourage programming on Macs, attending several conferences on the subject. But I will admit that I’ve liked Apple consumer products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. I’ve written in the past about how poor Apple’s support can be, especially when the refuse to even acknowledge the existence of major problems.
Well now I have new reason to be critical of Apple support policies.
Back in December, I was given a brand new Apple TV as a gift. While I was quite excited about the gift, at the time I wasn’t quite sure how I would want to use it. I wasn’t buying any video on iTunes at the time (we have two TiVo boxes). And so it sat unopened (though not unappreciated) on a shelf.
Then, a few nights ago, it finally dawned on me that I did have real application for the Apple TV as a series that I’m looking forward to (Game of Thrones) is on HBO but I don’t subscribe to HBO. Thus, I realized I could probably purchase the episodes through iTunes (I hope…) and watch them on my TV via Apple TV. Yippee!
So I opened the box and started setting up the device. Everything went smoothly until I tried to link the Apple TV to iTunes on my computer. I needed to input my Apple ID and password which I did. Over and over and over, but to no avail. Apple TV kept rejecting either the Apple ID or password (it wasn’t clear which one was “wrong”). I checked both the Apple ID and password both in iTunes and on my iPhone. I rest the password through iTunes. Yet nothing worked on the Apple TV.
Thus I began looking through Apple’s support site. I found lots of information telling me to be sure that my Apple ID and password were typed correctly (wow, that’s helpful!) or matched the account on iTunes (because, you know, it just makes sense to link two entirely different accounts). But I didn’t find anything remotely helpful with my problem.
I therefore decided to seek additional support. And that’s when I ran into one of the stupidest warranty policies I’ve ever encountered.
As I went through the process of seeking support from Apple, I was asked to provide the serial number for my Apple TV. After I did so, Apple’s support website told me that the 30-day warranty on my Apple TV had expired and that if I wanted support I would have to pay for it. What?
How could the warranty have expired while the product sat it its box?
Apparently Apple stores scan the serial number of certain products when they are sold and the warranty period begins running from that date.
Eventually, I was able to contact someone in Apple’s support division. He confirmed that the warranty period had begun when the product was purchased and explained that I could only get support if I paid $29.95. No thanks.
I asked him whether, if I returned the “non-functioning” Apple TV and bought a new one, I’d get a new warranty and he confirmed that I would. So, I queried, it seems that what Apple is saying is that anytime someone receives a gift of an Apple product they should, before opening it, return it to the store and exchange it for a new one, just so that they can get the benefit of the full warranty period. He said that he wasn’t saying anything of the sort; he was just explaining the warranty policy. OK.
One thing worth noting: When you buy an iPhone or an iPod or an iPad you register the product when you first connect it to iTunes. So why can’t Apple TV work in the same way?
Short, 30-day warranties make me angry. To me, that’s a company saying that they don’t really stand behind the quality of their product. But then to disconnect the warranty period from when the product is actually first used seems like a real “F-You” to customers, especially to a customer who receives the product as a gift.
So I continue to say that Apple makes some very good consumer products … but when it comes to dealing with customers, Apple sucks.