Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Breaking News: Chris Wants Money

I'm not sure if this was awful timing or just funny timing. After my recent couple of posts praising the virtues of my iPhone, Apple has decided that it's ready for the big time, and is acting accordingly by slashing a huge $200 chunk off the price.

Needless to say, I'm a tad annoyed. At myself as much as anything... if I had held off for just a couple of weeks, I could have snapped up a new one at a lower price. (Now, I only paid $500 for mine so the pain isn't quite as bad, but still, 'tis annoying.)

This evening I poked around online for a bit, and found that Apple offers a price protection for its online store. The bad news: it's only good for 10 calendar days, and I bought mine 14 days ago. Dang. On the other hand, though, several people report having called Apple for purchases at or under the 14 day mark, and having them honored.

The upshot being, I'm currently on hold for Apple customer care. Have been for close to half an hour. I'm guessing I'm far from the only person - methinks plenty of people are annoyed at the situation, and there's a lot of vitriol on the forums about the "early adopter tax."

One thing strikes me: the music that plays while you're on hold is excellent, but the quality is HORRIBLE. For the first time ever I can understand why everyone else uses Muzak: it degrades gracefully. Cool rock songs, though, are just about the most painful thing to hear in scratchy lo-fi audio.

I'll update this post with the result of my plea. Wish me luck...

Update 1: I can see from my large, gorgeous iPhone call info screen that I have spent more than an hour on hold. Thank you, iPhone! Some random thoughts: first, boy oh boy am I glad for hands-free operation. I've been able to surf the web, edit a friend's personal statement, brush and floss my teeth, and rearrange my subversion repository setup during this hour. It's still a pain to be on hold, but it would be unbearable if I was cradling my phone to my ear the whole time like with old-fashioned handsets. Second, it's kind of funny (but less so each time) that the friendly recorded voice keeps telling me that "Your wait time is more than five minutes." I'm curious if that is the maximum time they usually need to worry about people staying on hold - if so, their system is seriously overloaded. Third, their music choice continues to be excellent - I've even heard Massive Attack and Paul Oakenfold - but it's so choppy that it's really hard to sing along to. Three-point-five-th, they interrupt the music at random intervals for a recorded reminder to stay on the line, which wouldn't be so bad, except that (a) there is about five seconds of silence between when the music stops and the message starts, meaning that I'm constantly kept on my toes at the thought of being transferred to a live person; and (b) that uncertainty is exacerbated by the random timing of the thing... if it was, say, every minute, I'd be ready for it, but sometimes two come shortly after each other, and I keep thinking, "Oh, this must certainly be an actual person!" No luck. Well, I just passed seventy-five minutes. Time to post and continue the wait...

Update 2: SUCCESS! (Big happy grin!) I finally had my call answered after about eighty minutes. I explained my situation to the rep (stammering the way I always do when speaking with strangers), and he told me that, quote, "You just made it." The 22nd is apparently the official internal cutoff date. He put me back on hold for about two minutes, after which he told me that I'd be receiving a refund of $150, plus refunded tax of $12.38 (hooray California!), for a total savings of $162.38. (Price differential is 150 due to it being a refurbished rather than new item.)

I have to say, the whole experience was extremely pleasant once I got to an actual person. He was polite and thorough, and didn't talk as though he was reading from the script. Of course, I might not be quite so pleased now if I had bought the thing just one day earlier. That's one of those things that really grabs my attention, sort of a "There but for the grace of God go I..." sort of thought. If I had bought my phone just one day earlier... if I had been just a little more impulsive... if I had spent time playing with Ray's phone when he first got it instead of a month later... any one of those, and I'd be bemoaning my fate. (Current rumor is that Apple is planning some sort of refund for "qualified purchases" in the next few days, but I'd much rather be in the camp of check-is-in-the-mail than maybe-you-will-get-something.)

So. This all ended well, for me at least... I gave up an hour and a half of my life, but walked away with what feels now like free money. (I love the way the mind works: I'm focusing much more on what little I've "saved" than how much I'd spent.) The good vibes I feel about my iPhone will likely continue without the shadow of me seeing large dollar signs every time I look at the thing.

And with that, I'm signing off. Have a good night, everyone. And next time you see a cool new product that you just have to have, maybe check the calendar first and ask yourself if you really need it NOW.

Update 3: Pat just pointed me to a story about Apple providing a $100 credit to early iPhone adopters. I'm glad to see that - it's a really classy move on Apple's part, and it directly cuts into their bottom line. It's encouraging to see a company move to protect its long-term brand image (taking care of customers) and against its financial interest. Of course, I'm still glad that I got the better deal... much happier with my refund than a credit. (That being said, I'm really curious what people will do with their credit. The obvious answer is to buy a bluetooth headset. It would be fun to blow it all on iTunes, though.)

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