Good Profits v Bad Profits: or why Apple is losing its luster

Last week my MacBook Pro (2008) was giving me fits. Actually it has been giving me fits for a couple or weeks and really freaking me out. I’m self-employed so my laptop is my business, my livelihood, my hub.

I was in Tacoma with a client and rushed to the Apple store at the mall. I was greeted by a very nice Apple person, I explained that I needed a lightweight computer to replace my 8 pound brick. She took me to the brand new 12 inch, 2 pound Retina display MacBook – in GOLD! I’m a girl and I do love me some sparkly things. It’s not an Air, but feels like one. It has all of the horsepower of a MacBook in an Air body. The reason it’s so lightweight and thin – it has no built in ports. It’s all about being wireless. And if the entire world would switch to AirPlay life would be good. I do a fair amount of public speaking for credit unions so I use old projectors to share my Keynotes. When I told my salesperson this she said, “Oh no problem, we’ll get you an adaptor.”

The adaptor (which basically plugs into the power hole and gives you back your ports) was an additional $79.00. There’s an HDMI, power and one USB port. Should be plenty for me. But now I have to buy an HDMI to VGA to plug into my port. And get this, Apple doesn’t make one. What? So we’re in the Apple store pulling up to see if they sell one. For $13.99 it’s mine.

Today it arrived, it takes up the HDMI and USB to get it to work, kind of a klunky set-up but what the heck. I only have to do this when I’m presenting. But then this happened:

ERROR CODE: USB Devices Disabled. Unplug the device using too much power to re-enable USB devices.

Super. I purchased the three year Apple Care ($249.00) and their new One-to-One training for a year ($99.00). I went online to see how to get support. Took me to a page that said “Talk with an Apple Care agent now!” I just typed in my number, the phone rang immediately and then a recording said they had unusually high call volume and if I needed immediate assistance (self-service) go to I hung up. Fifteen minutes has passed and the damn recording just called me back! Again, unusually high call volume message was given to me. So let me get this straight Apple, if I don’t WAIT for your support you’re going to keep calling me until I do?

I just got the last Genius appointment for tomorrow. The nearest Apple store (the ONLY Apple store in New Mexico) is 55 miles from my house, one-way.

The definition of bad profits, according to Loyalty Guru Fred Reichheld: “Whenever a customer feels misled, mistreated, ignored or coerced, profits from that customer are bad. As my colleague Rob Markey and I explain in The Ultimate Question 2.0, bad profits come from unfair or deceptive pricing. Bad profits arise when companies shortchange customers by delivering a lousy experience. When sales reps push inappropriate products onto trusting customers, the reps are generating bad profits.”

When I was in the Apple store looking at laptops I posed the question on Facebook – what to buy? The 2 pound golden girl or stick with the MacBookPro. My dear friend Tim McAlpine said this: 13" pro is the way to go. With the amount of presenting you do, I'd be concerned about not being able to plug into power and the projector at the same time with the new MacBook.

I showed this comment to my Apple salesperson and she assured me the “adaptor” would taker care of it.

Next Tuesday I’ll be in Madison teaching 3rd year CUNA Management School students strategic marketing. I am on for the entire day. I have 128 slides, and worksheets, and fun stuff to show them. I just spent over $2500.00 at Apple and I’m not confident it’s going to work. And of course my $249.00 Apple care phone support is wasting my time and stalking me.

Here’s how Apple can fix these “bad profits:”

  • Anyone who has owned an iPhone, iPod, iPad knows that they run on different power supplies, have different chargers and if you upgrade everything is going to change. Give me one adaptor for “free.” Bake it into the price so I’ll never know,  so it feels like it’s complimentary and should go with the new product anyway.
  • Apple Care should be like United Airlines Platinum desk. Don’t make me stand in line behind everyone else. Give me access to a VIP line. For $249.00 you owe me that. And let’s face it, you only have so much room for Genius appointments, your store is always a madhouse. Wouldn’t you rather move some of that out of retail and in to the call center?
  • And finally – if you’re going to come out with these sleek new MacBooks with no ports then YOU should manufacture the adaptors so I can simply display my presentation.  I have a horrible feeling that is going to be the issues. Compatibility.

Does Apple Care cover me if I’ve purchased the wrong computer?

Guess I’ll find out.