Apple “Smoked the Competition,” But Still Consider Extending the Warranty

By | December 1, 2010

Over the weekend, PC World published the results of its annual reliability survey, incorporating reports from 79,000 tech users to assess customer satisfaction with reliability and tech support. As in previous surveys, Apple topped the rankings in an assortment of categories, with PC World going as far as to say that Apple “once again smoked the competition” in the desktop, notebook, and smartphone categories, winning high praise from customers in all reliability and service categories.

The Macintosh and iPhone maker did so well that virtually all its scores were above average. Apple’s only average scores were related to the company’s deftness at replacing failed notebook components, and in two areas pertaining to serious problems with the iPhone, the latter perhaps stemming from the iPhone 4’s well-publicized antenna issue that resulted in dropped calls for some users. The report points to Apple’s use of high-quality components and a straightforward software experience for providing customers with high levels of satisfaction. In addition, the company’s retail stores with Genius Bars offering service and support are seen as a key component to Apple’s customer care initiatives.

Personally I love the Genius Bars and look for excuses (and for available seating) around the Genius Bars just to learn. You can learn more in 15 minutes at the Genius Bar than in 6 months of reading magazines. I hate to admit it but this weekend when I was visiting family in New York City I made an excuse to go to the visually stunning store in New York City. I told my family that I had to check out the Black Friday deals (which were really available on line) and then spent some time at the Genius Bar.

But just because the Mac is reliable I still encourage people to take the 3 year extended warranty. I have owned more Macintosh computers than I care to admit. One of the most important things I learned a long time ago is that taking the 3 year extended warranty is always a good idea, especially for laptops.

A week ago when I went to install the new MS Office on my laptop and found my disk drive was not working, I was not too concerned. I simply found my bookmark for my local Apple Store and made a reservation at the Genius Bar. After 5 minutes of testing, they told me that my optical drive was not working, took my 2.5 year old laptop in, fixed it for free and returned it the next day.

But this is a controversial subject. Many people say it’s not worth it to buy an extended warranty. I have found that an extended warranty has saved me money on every laptop I have owned. Do you agree? Do you think the extended warranty is worthwhile?

Howard Fenton is a Senior Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research.

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3 thoughts on “Apple “Smoked the Competition,” But Still Consider Extending the Warranty

  1. Noel Ward

    The Apple Care warranty is worth it on notebooks, but it’s because of how Apple takes care of problems. I haven’t needed it on my PowerBooks or MacBook Pros (only one warranty issue with 7 laptops in 13 years), but I made sure my daughter had it on her MacBook when she went off to college to give it serial abuse. Apple twice put a new hard drive in hers for free–both failures the result of her having dropped the computer–and repaired several other things each time. That machine is now 5 years old and still in daily use, although the optical drive is flaky. Plus the phone support with Apple is great.

    People complain that Macs are more expensive. But they work reliably, are very durable and if you do the automatic software upgrades there’s rarely an issue with them. I use one for 2-3 years with heavy travel, then pass it on to my wife who runs it for 2-3 years. Even then, they are still working… just getting slow and tired.

    A sales rep at Best Buy told me the other day that the lower-priced PCs die in 2 years, 3 if the owner is lucky. Macs just keep working. Says a lot about using quality components and having good industrial design.

  2. Chuck Gehman

    I agree with Noel– you MUST buy Applecare for the notebooks. I’ve never owned one that didn’t need something minor fixed, a notable issue with almost all Apple laptops for years has been the hinges– in fact, I think they actually recalled the original Air for a defect. I’ve owned many of the machines. Personally, I find the Genius bar a little bit annoying– people of average intelligence working in a computer store pretending to know everything just doesn’t turn me on. I don’t need to have a deep conversation to get my computer checked in for service. In spite of this, I do share Howie’s love of the Apple store!

    Macintosh computers deliver a great value. They aren’t the same as Windows machines. Yes, you can surely buy an incredibly nice fast Windows notebook for around $400-600 bucks these days. But it’s not a Macintosh.

    I’ve also owned in the past and have today a great many low cost Windows machines, and I can’t agree with the Best Buy guy. I’ve had cheap machines last for many years. I’ve been more likely to ditch them because they were too slow, or their hard drives and RAM capacity was too low, not because they broke.

    One reason why low cost machines break is that they are purchased by parents for teenagers who thrown them in backbacks and otherwise treat them as less than prized possessions. But it’s easy to understand why a Best Buy sales guy would be motivated to sell customers the most expensive computer possible!

  3. Dennis Beck

    I think the math tells its it all as far as protecting your investment. Mac’s cost about 2x plus more than a windows machine-desktops or laptops. The Applecare for the desktop is about $169 bucks and about 349 for the laptop. So, when investing so much in a computer it is just simple-protect your investment. And when you consider how much longer a Mac lasts over a PC the warranty cost is just a small amount when prorated each year.

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