How a bad hard drive changed everything for me

I made the switch to from a PC to Mac back in early 2009, when I got my mac mini. Later that year I sold it and got a Mac Book Pro. It’s been my primary computer and work horse for the last 3 years. With it I’ve developed 10 iPhone apps, several web applications and spent countless hours surfing the web. I’ve never had an Issue with it…. until a few months ago.

While using the computer, I would randomly get “the spinning beach ball of death“, and it would last a few seconds to a few minutes. I started to notice that it would happen most frequently when I opened an app, a document, or if I tried to save a file. That made me instantly think it was a hard drive issue.

Opening the macs console app and looking at the system logs, it was clear there was a coloration between the times I saw an issue, and log entries for I/O Errors on the hard drive. Knowing that the drive was going bad, I booked an appointment at the local Apple store. I also created a time machine back up of the computer.

This was the first time I ever needed any service on my computer, so I didn’t know what to expect. This is how it went down:

Apple Genius: Hi, what’s the problem with your computer?
Me: The hard drive is failing. Lots of read / write errors.
Apple Genius: What makes you think the drive is failing?
Me: (*Opens computer lid, points to the console logs*) These error logs entries reporting I/O errors and bad sectors.
Apple Genius: Oh! OK, so yeah, you know know your stuff. That’s a bad drive. Let me check something… yup your computer is covered by Apple care.
Me: Sweet!
Apple Genius: Ah, this has a 320 GB drive. Sorry, we are out of stock on those. But I can replace it with a 500 GB drive, if that’s OK.
Me: OK, whats the price difference to upgrade from the 320 GB to the 500 GB?
Apple Genius: (*confused look on his face*), ummmm you have Apple Care, there is no cost. It’s free.
Me: Even the for upgrading the drive, it’s free?
Apple Genius: (*still confused*), yeeeeahhhh, you have Apple Care. It’s free.
Me: Sweet! How long will it take to get my computer back? (I’m thinking at least a week)
Apple Genius: Do you have a backup at home?
Me: Yeah, a took a time machine snapshot before I came in.
Apple Genius: OK good, It’s still going to be a while, we’re really back logged right now. It’s going to take at least 15 – 20 minutes. You might want to get a coffee and come back.
Me: Wow! So less than 30 minutes, and the parts and labor are free? You are just going to swap out the drive right here?
Apple Genius: yeah…. you have Apple Care, it’s free.

20 minutes later

Apple Genius: Here you go, all done. The new 500 GB hard drive is installed. I’ve also extended your Apple Care for another 3 months since you had an issue with the drive.

I took it home, plugged in the time machine drive and started the restore process. 3 hours later, I was back up and running. No data loss, no issues. No money spent!

Sure Apple computers are expensive, but the level of service you get when you need help is the best that I’ve ever seen. The tech didn’t try to fight me and tell me that it was a problem I caused or that it was out of warranty, or I had to pay a deductible to use the warranty. He didn’t try to up-sell me on other services, hell he didn’t even try to sell me anything, I was ready to pay money for the upgraded drive! The turn around time was unreal. Less than 20 minutes, and he apologized for taking longer than normal. He even extended my warranty because I had to go to the trouble of bringing it to the store, and because I had an issue. All of this FOR FREE. I guess free can be argued, because it’s built into the computers price tag.

Overall the experience was amazing. So good that I’m making a post about it here. In a world where anything can be bought over the internet and price comparisons happen on a global scale, the only thing left to compete over is service. Apple realized this, and delivers such a good experience, they turn customers with problems into evangelists for the company. This is exactly what Gary Vaynerchuk outlines in his book, “The Thank You Economy“.

As a business owner, this experience has opened my eyes as to why customer service really matters. I guess I was just so used to bad service (I’m looking at you Best Buy!), that I was delivering that same bad experience to my customers. I saw customers interactions as problems instead of opportunities to create an evangelist for my brand. Since this experience and revelation occurred to me, I’ve launched two apps (SEO Meta Manager and Order Lookup App). Both have been very successful. Sure they are great products, but my attitude about customer service has changed and I think it has made a huge difference in how I conduct business. Yes, there are products that are technically similar to mine, but they don’t offer the white glove customer service I do. That’s my true advantage.

To wrap this up, thank you Apple and thank you Gary Vaynerchuck. Your words and application of a Thank You Economy have changed the way I do business and treat customers.