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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > You can't return that, ma'am.

You can't return that, ma'am.
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volcano
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Feb 1, 2007, 07:37 PM
 
Alright, so I'll admit it: I work at the Apple Store. I love it. I could talk about Macs all day long for free... but now I'm being paid to do it!

Unfortunately, we attract all kinds of people to our store. The scene below happened today.

[Customer comes up to the counter, holding her 1st generation white iPod nano with the USB cable attached; piece of paper held tightly in her right hand]

Customer: Hi, can you help me?

Me: Sure, how can I help you today?

Customer: [sets iPod and transfer cable on the counter] I need to return this. It doesn't work.

Me: [Knows our 14 day return policy and thus knows that September (when the 2nd generation Nano was released) wasn't 14 days ago] Oh, really?

Customer: Here's my receipt.

[Hands me a print out receipt-type thing from Circuit City]

Me: I'm sorry, we can't return items purchased through third party retailers like Circuit City. We can only take back items bought from our store or through the online store.

Customer: [Begins to shimmer in a reddish glow and eminates anger] Well, they won't take it back at Circuit City, either... so what am I supposed to do?! They told me to come here! The software update won't work and I can't update my iPod. I think it's broke. I just want to return it!

---------

Let me interject: at this point, I begin to analyze the receipt further, and notice that the date of purchase was February 15, 2006. I semi-giggle, and tell her the bad news: that we can't return it because it was purchased from Circuit City, and even if we could we STILL couldn't because it was bought almost a year ago.

She just gave a long, blank stare. What else am I supposed to say?

I then inform her that we can honor the one year warranty since she still has 15 days left of her initial 1-year support. She is still upset, and keeps asking me why she just can't return it for a new one. I ignore her asinine remarks, and eventually convince her to sign up for an appointment at our Mac Genius Bar for later today. I also let her know that it isn't a guarantee that the iPod will be replaced for free: I just let her know that the genius will determine and pinpoint the problem, figure out if it's covered under warranty, and discuss with you the various options available. She calls the whole thing "ridiculous," and proceeds to leave the store in a huff.

......

What the hell is wrong with people? That's like saying, "Oh, I bought these shoes a year ago and now they're all scuffed up! Can I just return them?" or "Oh, I just bought my car brand new a year ago and I have a scratch and a couple of dings on it, can I just return it?" And the fact that she bought it from Circuit City didn't help. And her attitude? Yeah, that didn't help either.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 07:41 PM
 
Never underestimate someone's ability to be stupid.
     
Cody Dawg
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Feb 1, 2007, 07:44 PM
 
I saw the same thing at Brookstone about a week ago. Went there to return an unwanted holiday gift (with my receipt - in fact it was with a wad of holiday receipts all stapled together) and just ahead of me was a lady from Maine who was trying to return a pair of opened (and looked to be worn) slippers. The girl at the counter was very nice (she looked like Uma Thurman - works at the Palm Beach Gardens Brookstone store) and she actually offered to give the customer a refund up the sale price (they were now on sale) and not even a store credit, but a refund.

The customer starts to stammer and raise her voice and is very upset. She finally accepts the semi-refund. I stepped up with my refund and the sales clerk is very annoyed so I was extra nice and commiserated with her. At the end of the transaction she said, "Thank you for being nice."

That really made my night and I have to say, I feel sorry for some of the crap that you retail folks have to put up with.
     
volcano  (op)
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Feb 1, 2007, 07:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by Cody Dawg View Post
That really made my night and I have to say, I feel sorry for some of the crap that you retail folks have to put up with.
Thank you. One customer, one incident can really ruin your entire day. Luckily I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky type of guy, so I brush it off relatively soon afterward. And then I make fun of them as soon as they leave

Speaking of Uma Thurman, I've seen her in our store before. And a friend of mine has seen Jessica SImpson a number of times. Pretty neat. Can you imagine trying to explain Macs to Jessica Simpson? My god. I have patience, but I don't think it could withstand that.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 07:50 PM
 
Yay! Cody's back!

How are ya hun?
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Eriamjh
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Feb 1, 2007, 07:53 PM
 
So you hook it up and run software update to fix it. What's the problem?

Did she get a new one or not?

There are two kinds of people at stores: those who do everything to NOT help the customer (no matter how much of an ass the customer is), and those who do everything to help. Which were you?

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Feb 1, 2007, 08:51 PM
 
There are also two types of customers: those who do everything they can to get something they aren't entitled to, and those who work with the sales clerks to get the options they have laid out for them and find a solution.

Some people just have this notion that just because they are the customer, they will get whatever they want if they raise enough hell. Whoever came up with the term "the customer is always right" was terribly wrong. I know thats just a guide for helping sales clerks deal with customers, but I think customers take that way too seriously and broadly.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 09:16 PM
 
She did do that. She said "what am I supposed to do?" Clearly she is not an electronics expert, and she's been given the run-around all day long from various salespeople who refuse to explain the situation to her in "plain english," and tell her what her options are.

You can't demand that every customer be an expert in your product, or your product's field. The only reason they pay you is because they aren't experts, otherwise they could do whatever it is you're doing themselves.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 09:19 PM
 
I have a friend who works at an apple store. He had a story like yours, only it was a mom and 15 yr old kid with a nano, and hte nano's back silver section was dented inwards, smashing everything inside, and they claimed it just 'quit working'. Duuuuhhhh.
     
centerchannel68
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Feb 1, 2007, 09:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by volcano View Post
Thank you. One customer, one incident can really ruin your entire day. Luckily I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky type of guy, so I brush it off relatively soon afterward. And then I make fun of them as soon as they leave

Speaking of Uma Thurman, I've seen her in our store before. And a friend of mine has seen Jessica SImpson a number of times. Pretty neat. Can you imagine trying to explain Macs to Jessica Simpson? My god. I have patience, but I don't think it could withstand that.
Just drop the nano and touch her boob. Then you have a good bar story.
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 09:23 PM
 
I worked at a large computer retailer for 12 years - 7 of them in the stores - you wouldn't believe the stuff people tried to return - 2 year old computers, product that their dog had chewed up, all sors of crazy...

We had a guy who sued us because we couldn't get a virus off of his system... each time we would wipe it off, he would bring it back with it infected. Turns out that he was installing a pirated copy of Norton Utilities when he would get home, and that copy had the virus on it. Still he pressed on.

There was also a customer who swiped the PowerBook of our Apple rep, and tried to return it at the returns counter about an hour later... the rep's name and "Property of Apple computer" was egnraved on the bottom!

I could go on for hours with these kinds of stories...
( Last edited by TailsToo; Feb 2, 2007 at 12:26 AM. )
     
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Feb 1, 2007, 09:36 PM
 
The customer is always rarely right.
     
Eriamjh
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Feb 3, 2007, 09:50 AM
 
The customer is pretty stupid, but that doesn't mean you can't help the ones who really need it. As for the crooks...

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mitchell_pgh
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Feb 3, 2007, 10:32 AM
 
During my retail experience... I came to the conclusion that there were basically three types of people that would return items.

Authentic Problem: This accounted for about half the people returning items. They have the receipt and the hardware doesn't work and it's within the warranty/purchase period. These are usually rather painless unless the item is something you can't return (like software or some other item).

It's Not Broken: This account for about 40% of the returns. The items works perfectly... it's more user error. It's actually fun (most of the time) as you can demonstrate how the unit should work, and they are happy.

The lier, cheater, scammer, idiot... This makes up about 10% of the returns. They either are trying to cheat you (which many are) or they are so foolish to think that they can return something because they broke it. I've seen people trying to return items that weren't even purchased from our store... they are years old... and they expect you to replace it with something that's 2X as much. I think it's rather funny at times. Having someone trying to replace a $19.95 headset that... and expecting you to give them a $299 headset. I've seen it all.
     
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Feb 3, 2007, 10:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by volcano View Post
Alright, so I'll admit it: I work at the Apple Store.
Are you sure you're supposed to be posting on internet message boards and identifying yourself as an Apple employee? You may want to check the policy on that.
     
scaught
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Feb 3, 2007, 01:11 PM
 
^I'm an apple employee too. At 3 different stores. Under 4 different aliases.
     
All_Insane
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Feb 3, 2007, 01:46 PM
 
The customer is always right.

Except when they're wrong.

Hotels in general (and mine in particular) seem to attract a lot of morons. People are turning me misanthropic.
     
paul w
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Feb 3, 2007, 02:19 PM
 
Having worked in a hotel abroad, I can say with all honesty that American clients arre generally the most argumentative and demanding, regardless of the realities of their situation. Don't get me wrong, most are fantastic, friendly people, but the chances that a pain in the ass cutomer is American is quite high. I really think the culture of giving the customer what it wants no matter what that we have here in the states has bred this super bitchy breed of evil customer that now we're afraid to deal with so we placate them and hope they never come back.
     
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Feb 3, 2007, 02:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by TailsToo View Post

There was also a customer who swiped the PowerBook of our Apple rep, and tried to return it at the returns counter about an hour later... the rep's name and "Property of Apple computer" was egnraved on the bottom!

I could go on for hours with these kinds of stories...
Man, that's hilarious! How did that story end?

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Feb 3, 2007, 02:52 PM
 
I'm an Apple store employee. Just try to find me Apple!!!



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Eug
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Feb 3, 2007, 03:19 PM
 
Well, as a counter to that...

I was at the grocery store checkout and my bill came to $23.99. I gave her $25 and she looked at me and said, "Do you have a penny?"
I asked "Why?"
Girl: "If you give me a penny I don't have to give you extra change.
Eug: "No, you actually owe me the penny."
Girl: "It says right on the register it's one penny away from a round number."
Eug: "Yeah, it's one penny you owe me, not that it's a big deal."
Girl: "No, it isn't, but fine, I'll just give you $1. Forget about the penny."
Eug: W T F ?

Another time, although not quite the same thing:

I was in a restaurant a while back. I paid cash for the meal and then decided to stay a bit for some drinks. After about 10 minutes, I realized the waitress had shortchanged me $20. (I had paid with a $50 bill.) I notified her of the error, and then she sheepishly looked at me and said "The customer is always right" and handed me a $20.

It was quite clear from her demeanor that her attempt to shortchange me was intentional.

And then one from today...

I had a very nice brunch this morning, excellent food, and nice ambiance, although the building was an older one. I finished and asked for the bill. The waitress hands me the bill. I open up the folder and two cockroaches jump out. Grossed the crap out of me (and grossed out the diner sitting next to me). I tell her, and she just looks at me unfazed and says "Yeah, we fumigated the other day, and the bugs are coming out." and walked away.
( Last edited by Eug; Feb 3, 2007 at 03:29 PM. )
     
starman
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Feb 3, 2007, 03:43 PM
 
I worked in an art store in college. This guy had a flood and demanded we replace a painting he bought there TWELVE YEARS AGO.

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olePigeon
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Feb 3, 2007, 04:26 PM
 
Looks to me like she was given the run around from Circuit City before being told to go to Apple to deal with her problem. I always thought that even if you know you can't do anything for a customer, you can still maintain good relations with customers if you go ahead and "do everything" you can to help them out, even if the end result is the same. At the very least, if she has to buy a new iPod, I'd bet she'd buy it from an Apple store because, "At least they were willing to try and help me, unlike Circuit City."

I bet if you really could have exchanged or returned her iPod, she'd 've been talking to you for 2 hours about the mess she went through at Circuit City.
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Feb 3, 2007, 04:41 PM
 
I worked for a while at the returns service at a Wal-Mart.

I could fill these forums with pages and pages or stories.

The absolute worst one: Some one brought back a used swimsuit with various bodily fluid stains. She was pissed that the suit stained and wanted her money back. I let her exchange it simply because it was less of a hassle.

I would let everyone return or exchange nearly anything when I worked there. The only thing I didn't was video games. That was a big no-no.
     
volcano  (op)
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Feb 3, 2007, 06:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
Looks to me like she was given the run around from Circuit City before being told to go to Apple to deal with her problem. I always thought that even if you know you can't do anything for a customer, you can still maintain good relations with customers if you go ahead and "do everything" you can to help them out, even if the end result is the same. At the very least, if she has to buy a new iPod, I'd bet she'd buy it from an Apple store because, "At least they were willing to try and help me, unlike Circuit City."

I bet if you really could have exchanged or returned her iPod, she'd 've been talking to you for 2 hours about the mess she went through at Circuit City.
Yes, it sounds like they gave her the run-around there as well, gave up, and just said "Hey, why don't you go to the Apple Store? They can take care of that!" with an evil grin on their face. I inquired to whether or not she had purchased a warranty through Circuit City as well, just to deal with all angles of the case. She hadn't, but her insistance on returning something that old was rather annoying. But like I stated earlier, I scheduled her for an iPod appointment that was 45 minutes later (the earliest time we had), and from there the genius could hook it up, determine if it was a software issue or hardware issue, and continue from there and discuss options available. If I wasn't up front and if there wasn't already a huge line forming behind her, I would have gladly taken her to a computer with an iPod to see if I could help determine the problem. I understand that technology can be a huge joy AND hassle at the same time to those who only know the basics, so I try to break it down as easily as possible.

Originally Posted by Eriamjh
There are two kinds of people at stores: those who do everything to NOT help the customer (no matter how much of an ass the customer is), and those who do everything to help. Which were you?
Please don't question my dedication. If I didn't want to help people out and clear the fog, I wouldn't work in this retail sector. I could talk to you all day how I've gone above and beyond time and time again just to restore faith (and software) for people who were frustrated with their computer/iPod.

But in all honesty, this is nothing compared to the horrors I experienced with my first job at the tender age of 16 at a local department store. One time someone left their "mark" in the woman's fitting room by wetting the floor and a pair of new jeans with her feces. I'd much rather take verbal abuse from a customer anyday over "physical" abuse like the above.
     
Cody Dawg
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Feb 3, 2007, 07:15 PM
 
The cockroach story is THE most disgusting one I've ever heard. I would have screamed, literally.

What restaurant was it, may we ask?
     
KeriVit
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Feb 3, 2007, 07:45 PM
 
Cody! I was worried about you! We should all have surrogate posters in our absence.

Anyway~!

I hate customers. All of them. Ok, not all. But I always treat them with patience and respect. If they don't appreciate, my boss will sometimes fire the customer.
     
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Feb 3, 2007, 07:49 PM
 
Wow, she sounds about as tame as a kitten compared to the utter idiocy and obnoxiousness I encounter daily where I work, where you must unfortunately engage the "Customer is Obnoxious and Dumb by Default, Have Patience" motto with pretty much everyone.

But it sounds like you handled it just fine.
     
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Feb 3, 2007, 07:51 PM
 
more stories more stories!

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gnomexp
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Feb 3, 2007, 10:56 PM
 
Oh man.... these aren't quite returns, or retail at all actually, but I work tech support at the University of Texas at Dallas. Lets just say we have a bunch of fun questions and demands all the time.

Our computer system force-resets passwords every 6 months and the password policy is pretty stringent at UTD (6+ alpha-numeric characters plus either a mixture of caps or special characters). When people can't log in, they range from "I can't log on for some odd reason; do you know why?" to "WHY DON'T YOUR COMPUTERS WORK!! I'M TYPING IT RIGHT!" We have, and do have users who demand a simple password when we can't give it to them. Of course, the best fun is when they have to change it to a special insane combination. The instructions are right in front of them when they type it in and most students have been doing this for years, so you'd think it'd be simpler, but nope. The password has to be a fresh one too, one not from the last 3 years, so that brings up a lot of fun.

We have all sorts of fun with people who can't use Office, web browsers, homework, etc. We help as many as possible, but the absolute best problem I've ever encountered came from an iMac of ours. A user came up to our desk and simply said "the Internet doesn't work." I decide to check it out, expecting to show her the dock icon for Safari and all will be well, but nope. The Internet literally wasn't working and everything was plugged in. Turns out we have one or two weak hubs in that lab, so a few computers will literally be unable to get online. I had fun explaining that one to my coworkers.
     
bhamblin
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Feb 3, 2007, 11:07 PM
 
I once witnessed a woman bring a half-eaten turkey into my local supermarket the day after Thankdgiving and demand a refund because it "tasted bad."
     
makku
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Feb 3, 2007, 11:08 PM
 
I went to the apple store last month and was sitting at the counter when this lady came in all mad. She yelled "your product is made from cheap material! it breaks so easily!" From the pocket she took out a ipod nano that was broken in half. She demanded a full refund or a brand new ipod nano. The apple store employees explained that they can't do that (obviously). She kept yelling until she gave up and left all steamed up.
     
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Feb 3, 2007, 11:52 PM
 
Incase you guys want some more funny computer stories of stupid people go here.

You can add stories too

It has some pretty old stories (stuff from when win 3.0 was out) but I still find it pretty funny.
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Feb 4, 2007, 12:29 AM
 
Originally Posted by gnomexp View Post
but the absolute best problem I've ever encountered came from an iMac of ours. A user came up to our desk and simply said "the Internet doesn't work." I decide to check it out, expecting to show her the dock icon for Safari and all will be well, but nope. The Internet literally wasn't working and everything was plugged in. Turns out we have one or two weak hubs in that lab, so a few computers will literally be unable to get online. I had fun explaining that one to my coworkers.
In our labs at school the help desk people changed all of the Safari icons into Internet Explorer icons because they got tired of hearing people say "What's so special about Apples? You can't even get the internet on them.". After they swapped out the icons they never got another complaint.

Actually, they did get one. From me. I asked them why the erased Safari from the iMacs and that's how I heard the story.
     
JMan09
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Feb 4, 2007, 04:36 AM
 
I work retail at a Books A Million store, you wouldnt believe how many stupid people come in looking for books. Or the amount of people each day that take only one step in the store and say "uhh im looking for a book.." depending on the day sometimes I respond with a well we've got a few which one are you lookin for?

But i do have a funny return. One day this guy buys a Playboy 50th ann. book, then comes back later or the next day claiming he didnt know this book had these kinds of pictures in it and wanted to exchange it or get a refund. So my manager did the return and when I took it to the back we flipped through it to see if anything was wrong with it like we do with most returns, and the guy had used a razor and cut out several pictures from several pages.
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Feb 4, 2007, 04:50 AM
 
Thats why i left. (used to work for an Apple Center).

Wait till you get people who buy iPods at other iPod resellers(who sell iPods for less than RRP and offer no after-sales-service), plug it into their windows machines, cant get it to work and come to you for a refund (not an exchange, but a refund). And you spend a good 10-15 minutes why you cant refund their money, and another 15 minutes literally reading out the manual to them on how to get it to work.

I started working there for the same reason you did.... to talk about Macs and as time went on, i noticed i was turning into Dr.iPod 9-5.

I got sick and tired of it.

PS>> Apple/Mac Sales staff are not technitians who know why your iPod wont work on Windows. there's an apple help line/service centers for that.
( Last edited by Hawkeye_a; Feb 4, 2007 at 05:13 AM. )
     
Gamoe
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Feb 4, 2007, 05:48 AM
 
Originally Posted by bhamblin View Post
I once witnessed a woman bring a half-eaten turkey into my local supermarket the day after Thankdgiving and demand a refund because it "tasted bad."
But unlike the year-old iPod return story, this one may have some validity to it, as I don't find it unreasonable to return food if it was bad or going bad when it was sold to you. I've returned supposedly "fresh" fish before because when I unwrapped it that or the next day it didn't smell very fresh.

Then again, I don't take back half-eaten things, although if it gave everyone a bad stomach-ache after eating, I could sympathize with that.
     
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Feb 4, 2007, 06:24 AM
 
I had one woman, not too long ago, come to the desk and just starting lambasting me for some completely asinine reason (which I can't recall off the top of my head). After reaming me out for something like 10 minutes, she asks me to give her a couple of passes to a near-by attraction. So, I explain to her that the sale rate she's paying doesn't have any inclusions.

"Well, can't you just give me a couple?" she asks.

Yeah, no. You just spent 10 minutes tearing a strip outta me for no good reason, and now you want me to give you freebies out of the goodness of my heart? I don't think so lady, you can buy your passes from the door. For $28 each.

Oops, did I forget to mention that we can sell them to you for $11 each (rather then $28)? Must have completely slipped my mind, oh shucks.

And then there was the time that the Deputy Prime Minister of Canada ("Do you know who I am?! I an Anne McLellan!!!") came up and yelled at me for absolutely no reason. A week before the elections. She made me cry. I didn't vote for her. I voted for an MP who didn't make me cry.
     
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Feb 4, 2007, 07:25 AM
 
Originally Posted by volcano View Post
Me: I'm sorry, we can't return items purchased through third party retailers like Circuit City. We can only take back items bought from our store or through the online store.
Out of curiosity, doesn't Apple sort of ask for this by having stores? After all, Circuit City's just going to ship Apple the broken unit anyway — assuming it's a genuine malfunction, of course.

My wife's iPod Mini's battery crapped about two years after purchase. I bought it at a third-party retailer in Canada and had no receipt, but when I brought it into the Apple store in Nagoya, Japan, the guy who helped me had no problem taking it back and issuing us a brand-new replacement unit.

Mind you, I was polite, and not argumentative.
     
Hawkeye_a
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Feb 4, 2007, 08:24 AM
 
With warranty, any Apple Center can handle it (as long as it is an actual warranty issue; software in not covered), no matter where you baught the item.

Apple does not issue refunds.
     
   
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