Bitten By The New Mac Bug

by Chris Josephes


I just bought a new MacBook. A co-worker of mine just bought a new MacBook Pro. To put it another way, we both bought new Apple week before the new models came out.

After Tuesday's announcement I looked at the Apple website with a hint of despair. I missed out on a larger hard drive, a faster CPU, and more graphics memory. Catherine missed out on a faster CPU, more memory and storage, plus the holy grail of Multi-Touch. At the time of Apple's announcement, my laptop was only five days old; and Catherine's was six.

Both of our systems were bought in person at the same Apple store. We both knew what we wanted when we walked in so our sales encounters were short. Catherine's sales rep was a short, clean cut guy, that looks like every Mac user walking down the street. Mine was a big, serious guy, who kind of looked like Dr. Artz. Both sales people were professional, courteous, and well informed on the products we asked about.

When the news of the new models hit Engadget, co-workers convinced us it wouldn't hurt to go to the store and see what they would do for us. I didn't have the laptop or receipt with me, but I figured I could just ask. During my lunch break I went out to that physical behemoth representing all that is good and capitalistic in this country; the Mall of America.

I found a manager and I explained my plight. To win over his sympathy, I made up a sob story about kids in an orphanage who only wanted the laptop so they could play a scratched up copy of Myst that somebody found in a dirty alley.

The manager explained my options: pay a restocking charge of 10% ($149), or get a refund of $200. The restocking charge was because I'd be returning an open/used laptop to Apple that they wouldn't be able to sell. I told them I'd think about it and return the next day. Deep inside. I was kicking myself for selfishly taking my laptop out of the box and using it the very day I purchased it. I should have known better!

Since Catherine had the MacBook Pro her restocking charge would have been $250, but her refund would be $600. That's a cost swing of $250 for me, and $850 for her. We both know we're never going to be 100% ahead of the technology curve, but we didn't expect to be hit with new models this quickly. To be fair, we'll also admit that our gripes sound like a perfect candidate for White Whine.

Maybe the complaint is due to Apple's notoriety in keeping new products secret. I can understand keeping the MacBook Air secret, because it's a new product line. But why keep hardware upgrades secret? The reviews of the new models report that the units are faster, but there's nothing really new or innovative. If the sales person had told us that new models was coming out, we both would have waited, and we would have been happier customers. Unfortunately, sales people at the Apple store have no idea when new models are coming, so they're just as powerless as we are.

Both of us took the refund money and ran. We're happy with what we have, but a little disappointed in how the product release cycles can make someone regret their purchase. The funny thing is, they're both still good notebook computers. But the bleeding edge Mac culture (and to the PC culture as well) embraces newness, and shuns obsolescence.


2008-03-03 07:47:31
Ummm, a coworker bought his a week before the new ones came out. The Apple Store rep told me that the restocking fee is waived for an upgrade to the new models within the 14 day window. They said specifically (the Genius bar guy) that since they don't know when new models are coming out, that's why that is built into the terms. Sorry if that comes too late, but that's what he told me - my coworker actually bought his two weeks ago today and is exchanging it today.
Chris Josephes
2008-03-03 08:17:49
- my coworker actually bought his two weeks ago today and is exchanging it today

If that's the case, I'd like to know how it turns out. Everything I read beforehand--and asked an Apple person--told me that there was no way I could wave the restock fee on an opened/used laptop.

Of course, that would just make me regret my purchase even more.

2008-03-03 11:45:13
It would be nice if Apple were a bit less secretive, but in the mean time, check out this site: Apple seems to have a fairly predictable pattern for releasing updated products, so it'll tell if they're likely to upgrade soon or not.
2008-03-03 12:23:34
I was the one that talked to the Genius bar guy and it sounded pretty cut and dry. However, my coworker isn't going to exchange just because of the hassle after all - he doesn't think it's worth going down there and transferring all his data/apps for the processor/multi-touch upgrade.
Chris Josephes
2008-03-04 05:55:03
Okay, so there might be a chance that the newer Penryn based laptops aren't as fast as the 2007 MacBooks:

2008-03-13 18:18:26
don't worry your laptops are still good. could it have been nice of Apple to tell you this Yes. unfortunately they can't because the also need to stay competitive. it was something you researched and waited to get and technology changes quickly. (I know I'm preaching here) let me tell you that my experience with them at the store and on the phone is also not that great my iMac needed a new PSU and it took them a month to figure that out and then another week and a half to replace it. and I told the "Geniuses" at the Genius Bar they needed to do that from the beginning. They wanted to also charge my 85 dollars just to look at my iMac even though I had Apple Care. My point before I keep going on this tangent it is all about money and they would sell your laptops at a loss to a savvy consumer who wanted a semi-used MacBook and MacBook Pro for a fraction of the price they have them in the store constantly trust me my friend buys them all the time and then puts his old one on e-bay!