Apple and Amazon get customer service

You know, we seldom write about our good experiences with companies, only the shitty ones. Whether it’s stupid “security” questions or being unwillingly opted-in to a mailing list, we read and write about the bad things a company does.

I’d like to switch things up today.

I had two great customer service experiences, with Apple and Amazon:


I lost a hard drive in my MacBook, as I wrote about recently. But I’ve also been having trouble with the MacBook itself.  I bought it just a month or so after it was released because my previous PowerBook 12″ died suddenly one day and I desperately needed a replacement.

The MacBook’s had just about every problem that has been reported: the screen flickered incessantly, the left side of the case was loose and the front right edge broke off, the battery stopped holding a charge leading to sudden shutdowns, and, of course, the drive died. Since I had the extended AppleCare warranty, it was all fixed at no charge, only to have the screen start flickering again and a second drive die.

I took it into a Genius Bar one evening recently to complain bitterly. I described my issues while the Genius listened patiently. When I finished, and I asked my options, the Genius did something remarkable:

He agreed things sucked and offered a brand-new MacBook.

So shocked was I by this offer, that I could only stand there, slack-jawed, and mutter “uh, OK”. Although I was secretly hoping to get a new MacBook after all those things went wrong, I expected I’d have to fight for it. I never even got the chance.

To top it off, the replacement is significantly better than the original:

  Original Replacement
Processor 2 GHz Core Duo 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo
L2 Cache 2 MB 3 MB
System Bus 667 MHz 800 MHz
Hard Drive 80 GB 5400 RPM 250 GB 5400 RPM
Graphics chip GMA 950 w/64MB shared memory GMA X3100 w/144 MB shared memory
Wireless 802.11g 802.11n

I should have gone in sooner, before I lost eight weeks of data. (And, with 802.11n on-board, I can finally buy a Time Capsule.)


In May I bought Sex and The City (The Complete Series) for The Girl’s birthday. By some strange quirk, she never got around to watching any of the DVDs until this weekend, when she plucked a disc at random from the set and started watching through. After the third (or fourth, or was it fifth?) episode, the disc started to skip.

It was scratched, and pretty badly too.

We looked through the entire set, and of the 20 discs, 14 had scratches, ranging from minor to significant. Plus, two of the five discs in Season 6 were a completely different shade of pink from the other three.

I immediately emailed Amazon.

Ten hours later, they responded back:

I’m sorry for the problem you experienced with this shipment.

I’ve placed a new order for the item at no charge. 

And then they topped it by sending it out via one-day shipping. I sent the email on a Saturday night about 10 pm, and on Monday evening I had a new set, no questions asked, no “you already opened it”, no “how scratched are they”. Just “we’re sorry, here’s a new one”.

(I do need to ship the damaged ones back, of course.)

Amazon and Apple aren’t perfect, but they make up for their imperfections by providing the best customer service in their industries. An article in the New York Times earlier this year reflected on Amazon’s devotion to customer service. The author closed with a quote:

[Amazon CEO] Jeff [Bezos] used to say that if you did something good for one customer, they would tell 100 customers.

Customer service works again.