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When fans turn detractors: Apple’s problem in India

A Florida school is planning to trash 260 Macs to go PC only. The school was planning to do so because the Macs were all old G3 models. I shared the story on Twitter and one of the response had the tone of ‘not surprised – serves Apple right’. I thought it was from a Apple hater. Turns out this was an Apple user who recently had a poor personal experience with Apple in India. Specifically about having to pay Rs.36,000 (approx $720) in repair for an out-of-warranty Apple. Ouch.

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Is Apple to be blamed for charging a fee to repair an out-of-warranty machine? No. Is Apple to be blamed for the user not coughing up a little bit more for the Apple Protection Plan -a move that could have saved him a few thousands of rupees? No. Is Apple to be blamed for such high cost of repairs in India. Yes. I too had a similar experience of hardware failure with my Mac. One would imagine that such instances are rare with Apple, but they happen. While it was disappointing to see a defect in a 2-year old Apple product, what bugged me even more was the cost of fixing this defect. While Apple re-sellers quoted Rs.26,000 for replacement of the defective part, I bought it online for Rs.11k and fixing it cost me an additional 1k. So less than half of what Apple quoted. Reason enough to be pissed off about the brand. But I chose to take it in my stride and swore to opt for APP next time around. But not all users are this generous with their brands.

What’s the tipping point for brand love to turn into hatred? Product failure, not living up to expectations in service are the usual reasons. Horror stories abound with call centres. With Apple, the problem is compounded because of the intense relationship with its users and the high expectations thereof. In the US, people swore to give up the iPhone because of the way Apple handled the Google Voice issue. In India, Apple is even more vulnerable because of its fair share of users being newbies to Mac. Given that they are already paying a higher price of entry, any hardware defect and the high cost of repair for out-of-warranty products will surely the user even more. But, as usual, does Apple care about India?

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