I’ve had a number of computers over the years – and since we’ve all pretty much gotten to the point where we can’t seem to live without them (unless your like my mom, who recoils in horror at the idea of even trying to turn one on) – one of those feelings we’d all like to avoid is that burning sensation, deep in your gut, when you turn on your computer and…..nothing happens.

Which then leaves you at the mercy of either your computer’s manufacturer, or a third party repair shop if you’re out of warranty and don’t want to feel like you have to sell a body part to pay for the repair. The problem gets even worse if, like me, you live on a laptop – it’s not like there are many “user-servicable” parts on a laptop except memory and maybe a hard drive.

In the past, when this has happened to me, there is the inevitable fight with the manufacturer (where you would swear they staff their customer service teams with ex-help desk personnel, who’s entire mission in life is to make you feel like your personal development never proceeded beyond “brain stem”), trying to convince them that no, you didn’t break your laptop – it just died.

Well, I switched to MacBook Pro last fall…and part of my decision was based on the reviews of Mac’s being almost completely trouble free. And, I’ve had a bout of “Murphy’s Law” hit me when it comes to my Mac. Like this morning. After an evening of working on my art portfolio for my revamped website (coming soon!) – when I got up this morning (proof that Murphy was working – this happened on a Sunday) – turned on my Mac, and nothing happened. At all. Then…the even worse feeling of following the directions by inserting the Install Disk to trouble shoot – and it ate my disk – couldn’t even get it back!

Now with any other manufacturer – the process from this point forward would involve at least 2-3 hours on the phone with somebody that gives you a fake name (something like “Bill Jones” that doesn’t match the thick Indian accent – which I guess is OK, since I can understand an Indian accent much better than many more indigenous accents here in the States), followed by paying to ship it back to someplace that you’ve never heard of, and then days of wondering when / if it will ever be fixed and returned to you.

Why I love Apple. My process this morning was to use my iPhone, go to Apple’s site, and make an appointment at the Genius Bar. Then, drive 10 minutes to Chandler Fashion Mall here in Phoenix. Wait for about 5 minutes, where they then did a quick trouble-shoot to determine the problem (faulty logic-board). They couldn’t guarantee it would be fixed today, but promised they would do their best. 5 hours later, I get a call from them, saying that they’ve already fixed it and I can pick it up. At no time did they ever make me feel like an idiot – and in fact, even apologized for the 5 minute wait I had in the store!

Now, even though this is the second repair I’ve had, I understand that things don’t always work. For me, the sign of a good company is not just how reliable their product / service is, but also how they deal with things when something doesn’t work as expected.

I keep reading about the trouble the airline industry is in here in the US. Now, not only are we having to pay an upcharged fee for a second bag, but some airlines are now charging for the first! And, since you don’t even have the option of bringing those bags on board, you’d think  at the very least, they’d make up for this added inconvenience with better customer service…but you’d be wrong! Now, airlines such as US Airways are now going to charge $2.50 for a tiny cup of flat soda! And, the legacy carriers like United, Delta, Northwest, American and Continental wonder why people don’t want to fly them, and instead fly the low-cost carriers? Well, when your service absolutely sucks – why would you want to pay extra to be treated like cattle?

I just keep wondering – if more companies treated their customers like Apple does…they’d realize that it isis not only more profitable, it might even create a competitive advantage!