A recent controversy regarding iPod battery replacements has caught the eye of BusinessWeek Online columnist Alex Salkever, who writes about it in a new Byte of the Apple column called
A nasty fix for Apple.
Salkever said that AppleCare — Apple’s support system for owners of its products, “gets only a tepid nod from even the most die-hard Mac lovers.” Salkever said his own experience with it has been similar, where he “found the phone trees frustrating and the help not so helpful.” Salkever noted that this problem is hardly specific to Apple — Wintel PC users often have “spotty at best” experiences.
In a roundabout way, this led Salkever to discuss the case of the Neistat Brothers — the iPod users behind the infamous iPod protest that has been the source of much discussion around the Web in recent weeks.
Back in September, said Salkever, Casey Neistat’s iPod battery developed an issue that prevented its internal battery from charging more than an hour’s worth of juice. When he called AppleCare to get it fixed, they told him his best solution was to buy a new iPod to replace it, according to Salkever.
“He found this advice less than helpful. Casey pursued the matter further with Apple, sending a note to Steve Jobs’s office, getting basically the same reply,” said Salkever.
Casey and his brother Van’s solution was to stencil the words “iPod’s unreplaceable battery lasts only 18 months” over iPod posters that Apple had plastered all over Manhattan. They videotaped their efforts, and posted the movie to the Web. The work has been viewed by “hundreds of thousands of people,” purportedly.
Salkever noted that Apple does indeed have an iPod battery replacement service that went into effect about the same time as the Neistat Brothers publicized their self-proclaimed “antiadvertising project.” And he also said that third parties have been able to offer iPod battery replacements before that as well. But Salkever faults AppleCare for failing to contact Casey Neistat or direct him to the third-party solutions.
“Either move might have headed off what turned into the type of viral negative publicity that’s every company’s worst nightmare,” Salkever said.
“Here’s where Apple can think different and act differently, too — by selling the coolest toys, and making sure that a call for help is also a totally cool experience,” said Salkever.