A Customer Service Cautionary Tale

In October of last year, I had issues with my iPod Shuffle -- issues Apple quickly and efficiently solved with a magic "ta-dah" by delivering one by Fed Ex to my door. I simply chatted with a guy online until he admitted they were having problems with some Shuffles, then he set about completing the warranty-covered replacement.

Keven's Shuffle died over Christmas at the ripe ole' age of nine months. Hey, my darn fish has lived longer, and you know that's just not natural! Anyway, I found a credit card read-out for when I purchased it at Sam's Club back in March, but I don't have the actual receipt (uh-oh).

I called Apple to see what the deal was when their website wouldn't recognize the iPod serial number. Turns out that HP manufactured Shuffles for just about a year, and the only way you can tell is with a little HP symbol on the back of each device. You cannot tell in advance whether the Shuffle you're buying is an Apple product or one made by a third-party supplier, like HP.

The perky, valley girl Apple lady referred me to HP, which is apparently based out of a New Delhi-ish place. "Bob" referred me back to the HP website to use the e-mail customer service forum because -- since HP stopped manufacturing Shuffles last year -- he couldn't offer support over the phone. I went back to the internet (still in my jammies this morning, growing steadily more ticked off) and found the appropriate address. I detailed my problem and hoped for the best.

Four e-mails later, no luck. I've been told to re-do all the stuff I told them I'd already checked in the first place, all the while being called "Joe" in one of the form letters I received. ARGH! They refuse to admit the thing might actually be broken, and they will not address the issue of a warrantied replacement.

While I appreciate and extol Apple's customer service, it sucks that the company decided to sub contract manufacturing to a less efficient company like HP. With no way of telling, up front, which customer service I purchased along with the product, I feel like Apple must be implicated in this snarl.

I'll keep you posted... if you care. (I know Keven does! It's his thingie!)

UPDATE: "As per the information you have given, the iPod warranty for the serial number you have provided is out of warranty. We will need to follow the out of warranty troubleshooting and you will need to go for the bench repair option. The approximate amount for the bench repair of your iPod will be around $270."

ARGH!! ASSholes.

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