Lee, since Apple is an official "no comment," go ahead with your report!
Last week I emailed Apple's PR department at the suggestion of the Michigan store manager, who supplied me with the email address for media relations. After identifying myself as a blogger and podcaster, I sent a list of questions about Apple's return policy last week. Robin Roberts replied saying that she would be happy to answer my questions over the phone if I would supply my phone number. I returned the call today, asking to set up a time to talk so that I could get a comment on the questions I'd asked.
Her response? She would be happy to talk to me, but Apple would not comment; the questions related to "internal data that we will not discuss."
Uh-oh. I sense a PR nightmare for Apple. The questions I asked in the email of February 23, complete with a link to the original blog post:
1. Is it really Apple's policy to take ownership of items entrusted to it for repair?
2. If a customer requests the return of an item that Apple could not successfully repair (such as a hard drive), will that request be honored? If not, why not?
3. The analogy has been made that when a customer takes a car in for, say, brake repair, she does not have the right to keep the old brakes. It's my understanding that, while it's true that most mechanics will keep the old, damages brakes and profit from the sale of the scrap or refurbishment possibilities, the customer does have the right to have her old brakes back, should she want them. Is this an accurate analogy? If not, how is this different with replacing a hard drive versus brakes?
4. Does Apple get a rebate on returned hard drives? If so, how much is that rebate? (The store manager didn't know; I'm hoping you have access to this information).
5. If not, why is the customer charged $300 to maintain ownership of her own hard drive?
6. What is done with the hard drives that Apple retains? Are they returned for the rebate? Are they refurbished and resold?
7. Are customers informed that they are giving up ownership of their property when they turn it in for repair? If so, could you cite the phraseology from the repair request that the customer signs?
8. Apple-certified technicians outside of Apple stores who claim that this is not their policy. The store manager claimed that the point of taking ownership of customers' hard drives and returning them for rebates was to pass on savings to the customer. Is this Apple's claim, that the rebate provides savings that are passed on to the customer? And since other shops don't have this policy and still manage to keep their pricing competitive, how do you explain this claim?
9. Given that a replacement hard drive should cost less because of the rebate Apple receives for the damaged drive they take ownership of and return for a rebate, how do you explain that a new hard drive costs the same as a replacement hard drive?