I just bought a new MacBook. A co-worker of mine just bought a new MacBook Pro. To put it another way, we both bought new Apple Laptops….one week before the new models came out.
After Tuesday’s announcement I looked at the Apple website with a hint of despair. I missed out on a larger hard drive, a faster CPU, and more graphics memory. Catherine missed out on a faster CPU, more memory and storage, plus the holy grail of Multi-Touch. At the time of Apple’s announcement, my laptop was only five days old; and Catherine’s was six.
Both of our systems were bought in person at the same Apple store. We both knew what we wanted when we walked in so our sales encounters were short. Catherine’s sales rep was a short, clean cut guy, that looks like every Mac user walking down the street. Mine was a big, serious guy, who kind of looked like Dr. Artz. Both sales people were professional, courteous, and well informed on the products we asked about.
When the news of the new models hit Engadget, co-workers convinced us it wouldn’t hurt to go to the store and see what they would do for us. I didn’t have the laptop or receipt with me, but I figured I could just ask. During my lunch break I went out to that physical behemoth representing all that is good and capitalistic in this country; the Mall of America.
I found a manager and I explained my plight. To win over his sympathy, I made up a sob story about kids in an orphanage who only wanted the laptop so they could play a scratched up copy of Myst that somebody found in a dirty alley.
The manager explained my options: pay a restocking charge of 10% ($149), or get a refund of $200. The restocking charge was because I’d be returning an open/used laptop to Apple that they wouldn’t be able to sell. I told them I’d think about it and return the next day. Deep inside. I was kicking myself for selfishly taking my laptop out of the box and using it the very day I purchased it. I should have known better!
Since Catherine had the MacBook Pro her restocking charge would have been $250, but her refund would be $600. That’s a cost swing of $250 for me, and $850 for her. We both know we’re never going to be 100% ahead of the technology curve, but we didn’t expect to be hit with new models this quickly. To be fair, we’ll also admit that our gripes sound like a perfect candidate for White Whine.
Maybe the complaint is due to Apple’s notoriety in keeping new products secret. I can understand keeping the MacBook Air secret, because it’s a new product line. But why keep hardware upgrades secret? The reviews of the new models report that the units are faster, but there’s nothing really new or innovative. If the sales person had told us that new models was coming out, we both would have waited, and we would have been happier customers. Unfortunately, sales people at the Apple store have no idea when new models are coming, so they’re just as powerless as we are.
Both of us took the refund money and ran. We’re happy with what we have, but a little disappointed in how the product release cycles can make someone regret their purchase. The funny thing is, they’re both still good notebook computers. But the bleeding edge Mac culture (and to the PC culture as well) embraces newness, and shuns obsolescence.