A more thorough article on Apple's customer service and repair policies is forthcoming. For now, I'll share that I had a disappointingly unpleasant experience with the repair of my failed hard drive this week and seem to have uncovered a policy of Apple's that no Mac expert I've contacted so far was familiar with. The supervisor of the Michigan Avenue store has confirmed that therepair policy is standard, and calls to Apple's PR department are forthcoming.
In short, the genius (for you who are uninitiated into the Apple world, that is what the repair technicians are called--"geniuses" at the "Genius Bar"--you gotta love Apple for that!) who returned my iBook G4 to me, complete with a shiny new (albeit empty) hard drive let me know that they were not able to recover any data from my original hard drive.
No problem. I was expecting as much and had already made arrangements to send the old drive to a specialist for extreme data recovery. However, the genius insisted on taking an imprint of my credit card on a slip with the charge of $300 indicated in order to allow me to take my old drive with me, citing that the drive was "ours" (as in, belonging to Apple) now, and Apple would have to charge me $300 if I didn't return my old drive to them within 30 days.
Imagine my surprise in hearing that the old drive that I'd bought, paid for and entrusted a repair to now belonged to Apple. And this after I'd bought and paid for a new, $300 replacement drive. It seems that now, somehow, the old drive belongs to Apple and not to me.
I can't imagine that it is standard practice to keep a drive that belongs to the customer, but a phone conversation with the supervisor of the store confirmed that yes, this is standard practice among all Apple stores throughout the country. That is, if my hard drive is damaged or lost in transit to data recovery, I will owe Apple $300 for my own hard drive that they have already charged me to replace and that they neglected to repair.
As I said, this doesn't sit right with me, and I'll follow up with answers from Apple's PR folks ASAP.