Premium Stupid (to the core)

by Colin Berkshire

Apple pitches itself as a high-end customer focused premium service company. I think the employees actually believe that this is the level of service they are offering. They are delusional.

At Apple when you need to talk with a customer service representative at a store you need to make an appointment. Most often, those appointments are three or five days out. Can you imagine going to Nordstrom or even Wal-Mart and being told that you need to make an appointment? How would you feel if you walked into Best Buy and was told that you needed to come back in a week after scheduling an appointment. This is worse service than the Department of Motor Vehicles.

When you buy something from Costco you can pretty much get your money back anytime. When you buy from Wal-Mart or Target or, well, just about anywhere you have a 30 day or longer return privilege. Some stores like Home Depot give you 90 days. As consumers, we expect to have a generous return privilege. At premium companies like Nordstroms you can get a full refund FOREVER on shoes. Now, clearly a used, worn out shoe being returned 5 years later is a loss for the company, but Nordstroms is a premium service company and they will issue a refund after five years on a worn out shoe no-questions asked. (It’s a numbers game.)

But at Apple you get a measly 15 day return privilege. And, this return privilege is STRICTLY enforced. If you come back after the 15 days and ask for your money back they will flatly say: “no”. This is not a premium service company.

Have you ever purchased something from Apple and also purchased the extended warranty, then tried to return the item? Let me share with you it is a nightmare. They will give your money back for the purchase, but they will not refund the extended warranty. You need to call a phone number, and navigate through their organization (repeated transfers) to the warranty department who will need your policy number and will tell you they will try to cancel it. Several phone calls later they will refund a portion of the policy. It’s a lot of work to get your $75 back. This is not a high-end company.

I keep asking myself: What about Apple is premium anymore? You wait in queue on the phones. You are told to leave their retail stores unless you ave an appointment. They have the industry’s worst returns policy*. The fact is that Apple is NOT a premium brand. But somehow they have created a “reality distortion field” around their business that has customers thinking their service is actually good. Um, no.