Why Apple Won’t Deal?

A week or so back I compared Apple to Toyota, regarding pricing and quality. I left one major issue out which some may say speaks to the difference between good products and truly excellent ones.

I’m talking about warranties.

The warranty a company offers with their products tells me heaps about what I am buying. It speaks to how confident the manufacturer is that their product will work without fail. It says much about how good the service will be when it does fail. And nowadays, it should be as important in a notebook computer as it is in a car, as some people depend on them as much (or more).

I am typing this entry on a Dell C840. It is tricked out (just the way I like it – read more at A Decent Linux Laptop (continued)). Anyway, I have had this machine for almost 18 months, bought it from the Dell Outlet, and it came with a 3 year, next day onsite warranty, parts and labor included. A hard drive failure hit me once – there was a new one at my front door the following morning. It is a desktop replacement that has served, and continues to serve, me well.

But I need something more portable (as the Dell is a boat anchor). I have Windows and Linux tied up, so curiosity takes hold, and I peer at Apple Powerbooks.

Yes, Apple makes nice products; yes, they are easy to use; yes, they are purported to be stable, reliable, and virus free. And yes, I am drooling over a 12 inch Powerbook now. But I have one concern. Everyone I talk to, whether it be existing Mac owners, Apple Store reps, or even hot dog vendors on street corners, say get AppleCare. Get AppleCare. Get AppleCare. Hmm.

So I check out AppleCare, and what do I find? It is a $350 add on to the price of the slab! A $1,700 sub-notebook is now a $2,050 sub-notebook, and that is without the tax. Wow! And the rep in the Apple Store doesn’t budge when I ask to have it thrown in. Huh? It’s a dang service contract – if your product is so great, what harm is there in just giving it to me? I’ll buy the cute little aluminum gizmo right now, and even a few software titles, just throw in the service contract. “Sorry, we can’t do that.”

Why not stand behind the product with aplomb? Tell me the product is the finest around, that nothing will ever go wrong with it. Tell me you know this to be true. Don’t say “the parts in this little bugger are darn expensive.” Ouch. $350, extra, is the cost of that assurance, eh?

My Dell is 18 months old, and under warranty for another 18, no extra charge (failed me once – repaired next day); my Toyota is four years old, has another year left under warranty (at least for the stuff that counts), no extra charge (never failed me). Excellent products.

I think I will wait a little longer on the Powerbook, based in part on the recommendation of my neighborhood hotdog vendor.