iPodMechanic.com Takes Broken iPod, Runs

With the meaty heel of a palm resounding against the center of your forehead with a leathery slap, this might strike many of you as particularly astounding advice, but we think it needs to be said: please, please do not mail your $400 iPod to some random Internet stranger proclaiming himself to be an iPod Mechanic. Especially if there isn’t even a phone number on the website.

We’re just reminding you, because reader Scott S. did just that when his 60GB iPod Photo broke and Apple refused to fix it. He picked iPod Mechanic as his go-to guys, happily shipping them his iPod and trusting them to fix it. He also gave them his money. A month later, no fixed iPod: just the dead voice of an automated email messaging service have responded to his concerns that, you know, he might be fucked.

Scott wants to know what he can do. Scott, we can’t find a phone number, so our immediate suggestion would be to call your credit card company, explain the situation and ask them if they have a contact number. If not, hopefully a commenter has some insight. Otherwise, we think you’re probably boned. They’ve gotten a lot of good reviews on the Net, so they aren’t totally fly-by-night, but without any way to contact them, there’s no way to escalate this outside of getting a contact number, waiting it out or bringing it to the attention of the police. We hope you insured that UPS package!

Can any of you guys give some better advice? Scott’s email after the jump.

UPDATE: Sweet sweet resolution! Jump!

I’ve had a nightmare of a time trying to get the screen on my 60GB iPod Photo fixed. Ever since the screen developed a large black spot on it (despite being in a Speck Toughskin case from day one and suffering no particular trauma), I’ve been beating my head against the wall here.

First Apple refused to honor my Applecare agreement even though I was given an RMA number, told in simple terms the unit would be fixed, and sent a shipping box by their CSR. They sent the unit back to me unfixed. Then, when I called to express my surprise at receiving exactly what I’d sent back, the first CSR I talked to said Apple *would* fix the unit under warranty and transferred me. The second CSR said Apple *might* be able to fix the unit under warranty, then transferred me. I held for thirty minutes or more. The “shop” person said “It’s not covered.” So I explained to them that Apple had seen its last dollar from me, ever, and hung up.

Next resort: paying to get the thing fixed. I did some research and found a bunch of third-party repair houses that promise 24-to-48 hour turnaround on screen replacements. Everyone was basically the same price- $149 for my particular iPod- and so I went with iPodmechanic.com because it had good reviews and included two-day UPS shipping in its price. I know that a web-based business with a street address but no phone number and only one email address might seem suspicious, but I noticed that pretty much all of the other third-party shops were in the same boat. And since Apple would have charged considerably more to fix the screen themselves (and I was intending to follow through on my solemn promise), I decided to go for it. So I bought the repair and waited for my shipping label. It took them three days and a reminder email, but I got my label, boxed the unit up, and sent it off.

A couple of days later, just as I was told they would, iPodmechanic sent me an automated email that said they’d received the iPod. Great. So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

About five or six days after sending the unit, I decided to send an email to the info@ipodmechanic.com address, since it was the only one given anywhere on the site. I had tried to be patient because I was mailing the iPod in over a holiday weekend and figured it might take a bit longer. So I sent a message, and got back the auto-response:


Thank you for contacting iPodMechanic.com

Due to an overwhelming response to some of our new services and extra attention in a magazine article, iPod Mechanic is swamped!!!

We’re working as fast as possible to service your needs. We appologize any inconvenience.

Best regards,
iPodMechanic.com Team

“Okay, fine,” I said. I’d backed up the iPod’s contents before sending it and I was getting by at the moment, so I decided to wait a little while longer since this business was probably being run by one or two people. I didn’t want to cramp anyone’s style with yuppie-level self-centeredness, after all.

Another week went by. Another email, another auto-response. Wash, rinse, repeat. I piled up several auto-responses in my Gmail thread.

So, now almost a month after sending in the iPod, I went to their website feedback form (which had been the only mechanism by which I’d ever gotten a non-auto response from them, back when my shipping label was late) and threatened to send this story to the Consumerist. Just minutes later, I received a response:


Thank you for contacting iPodMechanic.com

Due to an overwhelming response to some of our new services and extra attention in a magazine article, iPod Mechanic is swamped!!!

We’re working as fast as possible to service your needs. We appologize any inconvenience.

Best regards,
iPodMechanic.com Team

What next? Have robots or zombies overrun 832 Weaver Ave. in Kalamazoo, Michigan? Whither my brick-weight iPod? My credit card, naturally, was charged several weeks ago.

Thank you for any help or advice you or your readers might be able to offer.

Scott

FOLLOWUP:

Consumerist,

I’m not sure if it was the chargeback threats or the post on the Consumerist that did it, but this morning (6/22) I miraculously received an email indicating that my iPod was being shipped back to me and scheduled to arrive Wednesday the 28th.

We’ll see if I get a brick or just that familiar ol’ brick-weighted chrome block. But I’m glad I haven’t had to get all gumshoe with this impressive reader-gleaned information.

I was prepared to believe that the business is/was an overwhelmed one-man band, but whether you’re Microsoft or Micro-soft, it’s not professional to ignore customers’ sole source of contact with you for a month when you’re simultaneously advertising a 24-hour turnaround.

I consider my lesson learned. I was perhaps a little hasty in trying to seek a “quick fix” for my fallen dream machine after the three-week wild goose chase inflicted on me by Apple.

So, thanks again.

Scott S.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. something_amazing says:

    From a whois on the domain:

    Administrative Contact:
    Woodhams, Nicholas myebay@gmail.com
    PO Box 164
    Oshtemo, MI 49077
    US
    (269)217-4245 Fax: 000-000-0000

    Amazon listing of website with one star rating and reviewer calling it a scam:

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000EXC37Q/1

    Nicholas’ resume in Apple Repair:

    http://homepages.wmich.edu/~n4woodha/resume.htm

    Nicholas’ college email adddress:

    Nicholas.A.Woodhams@wmich.edu

    And if you search on whitepages for the addrses you can find him in Kalamazoo.

    Word of note: I don’t think that this is a scam. Given how closely tied Nicholas appears to be to the domain I would suggest that he was an entrepeneurial person who got in a little bit too much over his head. Sounds like he’s running a one man shop.

  2. Ran Kailie says:

    http://www.grandrapids.bbb.org/commonreport.html?compid=13

    The BBB lists the owner of the company as Nicholas Woodhams, the company also apparently has a bad record with the BBB.

    Also going to bet this is him:

    http://homepages.wmich.edu/~n4woodha/resume.htm

    Which has his phone number listed. And Oshtemo is only 5.4 miles from Kalamazoo.

  3. Morgan says:

    I looked up ipodmechanic.com at http://betterwhois.com and got the following:

    Registrant:
    iPod Mechanic
    PO Box 164
    Oshtemo, MI 49077
    US

    Domain name: IPODMECHANIC.COM

    Administrative Contact:
    Woodhams, Nicholas myebay@gmail.com
    PO Box 164
    Oshtemo, MI 49077
    US
    (269)217-4245 Fax: 000-000-0000

    Technical Contact:
    Manager, Domain hostmaster@startlogic.com
    919 E Jefferson St.
    Suite 100
    Phoenix, AZ 85034
    US
    +1.8007258064


    Registration Service Provider:
    StartLogic, Inc., hostmaster@startlogic.com
    1-800-725-8064
    http://www.startlogic.com

    Registrar of Record: TUCOWS, INC.
    Record last updated on 07-Apr-2006.
    Record expires on 15-Oct-2007.
    Record created on 15-Oct-2004.

    Domain servers in listed order:
    NS.IPODMECHANIC.COM 216.69.172.96


    I’d start by calling the administrative contact. If that doesn’t work, talk to the technical contact, who appears to be the one who registered (and probably hosts) the site- telling him his sustomer is doing something illegal may help.

  4. Ben Popken says:

    Bob writes:

    I’m having the same problem as Scott with my iPod. Any suggestions you have would be welcome. I did find the following number 877-726-0608,

    A machine answers and, of course, you never recieve a call back. I posted a negative review on thier site about 2 weeks ago and got a quick response that my iPod would be the next out the door. Still no iPod and now they don’t allow you, or maybe just me, to post reviews on their site!

  5. Ben Popken says:

    Paul writes:

    “I read your column regarding iPod Mechanic too late. I too have been bamboozled, by this company. I am wondering if Scott S did in fact get his repaired iPod back. I used PayPal as my payment and have opened up a case with them, short of that I don’t know what to do. If just waiting it out will get me the device, so be it, but I do want to know what the end result was for Scott S.”

  6. Ben Popken says:

    Kat writes:

    “I seem to have been duped by the same guy as Scott and Ben. I have reported iPod Mechanic to the Michigan Better Business Burea, gone to Planet Feedback and intend to send him a letter (return receipt requested) outlining my complaint and requesting the return of my son’s iPod.

    I called the phone number listed on “Nicholas Woodham’s” eresume and get a gentleman who says he got this phone a couple of months ago and keeps getting calls for iPod Mechanic.

    Are there any other suggestions? “

  7. Ben Popken says:

    Andy E. writes:

    “Add my name to the number of commenters on the consumerist site that are struggling with ipod mechanic.

    After purchasing their 24 hour turnaround screen repair, I’ve been waiting for two weeks with only automated email responses and not answer to any of the phone numbers others have posted.

    I’m awaiting others to post their resolution and am hoping to hear SOMETHING back from to help me believe that I haven’t had my ipod stolen. I will call my card company Monday to alert them of the problem and to dispute the charge.”

  8. Ben Popken says:

    Lorna writes:

    “I also have been ram-rodded by Ipod Mechanic. I sent in my daughter’s ipod, and never received the repair. They still have my ipod, but thankfully, Paypal has refunded me my money. Of course, I want the ipod back. Please let me know if anyone has any success with this company.”

  9. drscott46 says:

    This is Scott, the original complainant. Yes, I did receive the iPod back and working, although the screen used was definitely “refurbished”- it contained several light scratches, although nothing too disfiguring. But it does work, at least.

  10. tr6jr says:

    I think their scam is to wait for someone to send in a unit, balk at the $100+ repair estimate and opt for the $10 buyout. They then salvage the unit for it’s usable parts, and charge us for what should be a new part. This may explain the delays and the obvious “referb” look of replacement parts.

    My nano has been in their clutches for a month and the communication has been equally non-satisfactory.

    Avoid

  11. tr6jr says:

    Did what others recommended and issued threats and item was repaired next day and shipped. Now that’s customer service! Good God.

  12. goob007 says:

    Been Waiting 4 months for ipod mechanic to either return or repair my ipod. They even have sent out bogus UPS tracking numbers to keep me at bay.

  13. nikoniko says:

    If you go to http://people.yahoo.com, input Nicholas Woodhams and select Michigan, you get a phone number and address in Kalamazoo, which is only 5 miles away from Oshtemo. I’d wager it’s the same guy.

  14. nikoniko says:

    I meant to also say that it’s a different number than the one listed on WHOIS, so one might have better luck considering people often let their WHOIS info get out of date or never put the correct information in the first place.

  15. searched says:

    I almost send my damaged ipod to these guys, but i check on the link of Secured by GeoTrust , the first one in the bottom of the page, and didnt find nothing on Ipodmechanic. Then searched on google “ipod mechanic” and then i found your stories. uuff, almost got caught! But it was the Google search link that got my to that place in th first place. GOOGLE BAN THIS LINK

  16. mbw says:

    Their free repair quote is not really free.

    I sent my ipod in for a “free, no obligations quote” on repair. The repair quote was $99. But the website had no option to request return of the unit. So I emailed a request to return the unit, and was told that there is a termination fee of $15, in addition to the agreed upon return shipping fee (the former disclosed in fine print on their site which they pointed out for me).

    That doesn’t sound like a “free no obligations” repair quote to me.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t find Trojr’s posting (above) prior to my shipping the unit to them.

  17. Rainey says:

    Hi! I’ve been fighting with iPod mechanic for up to six months after UPS lost my iPod in the mail, and there is no end in sight. I’ve been using the BBB to fight iPod Mechanic, but so far neither sweet reason nor persistence has yielded any effect.

    Check out my back-and-forth with then through the BBB:
    [206.114.60.222]

    Whatever you do, don’t give them your iPod. You might as well just junk it. I wish to God I had. After months of attempting to communicate, they continue to insist that I owe them $85 plus shipping for REPAIRS even though they ADMIT that they never received my Ipod and UPS has already issued them a reimbursement for the loss in the form of a check for more than $100. I mean, just how are they going to “repair” my “broken logic board” when they never recieved the iPod?

  18. asbach says:

    My experience with Ipod Mechanic is similarly bad.

    Their customer service is the worst. It is impossible to contact them by phone. When they do reply to email, it is non informative, non committal boiler plate jargon. Otherwise, one gets an automated reply with various excuses for not replying, but promises to that they are working hard.

    They replaced the logic board in my Ipod ($150.00). It functioned for roughly 4 hours and exhibited the same symptoms for which I sent it to them originally.

    I contacted them immediately. I was told that these things happen. A CSR named Halli suggested that I go to the Apple website and follow their trouble shooting suggestions.

    I emailed the owner. He told me to ship it back, they would repair and return it to me.

    I requested a status report this week and received automated responses. When I finally received a live response, it was from a guy named Adam. The misspelled words, attitude, and excuses about having other customer, etc.,

    I want to be done with these people as soon as possible. How they remain in business is beyond me.

  19. RapidRepair says:

    If you take a look at the website right now (ipodmechanic.com) they are not taking new orders and have already shut down their check-out. If you visit the Contact Us page you will find a link to a page with some FAQ’s that might blow your mind:
    ************************************************************************

    FAQ for recent iPod Mechanic Issues

    Why are you not able to return my iPod right now?

    Unfortunately your iPod is currently in possession of the Government.

    Why is my iPod currently in possession of the government?

    Several iPods were taken at the same time. Efforts are being undertaken to identify these iPods so they may ultimately be returned to their rightful owners.

    Will I ever get my iPod back?

    Yes, you should, however it is the government’s decision. We have identified these units as your property.

    When can I expect it back?

    It may take some time, we cannot give an exact timeframe.

    Is there anything I can do to have my iPod returned sooner?

    You may write a letter expressing your feelings which will be forwarded to the government. Please send this to gov@ipodmechanic.com.

    Is iPod Mechanic a real company engaged in the business of iPod repair?

    Most certainly, yes.

    Will my credit card be charged for the repairs?
    Absolutely not.
    ************************************************************************

    I guess it was only a matter of time before the Government shut this operation down! On a side note I’m surprised that iResq would even want to have their name mentioned on ipodmech’s site!

  20. Melissa Ann Vernon says:

    My daughter’s IPOD was stolen by Ipod Mechanic in December 2007!!!!!!!!!! I have tried to file with the Attorney General’s office and was told they were unable to locate this company. I hope someone rips them off as badly as they’ve ripped us off.

  21. Anonymous says:

    i have personally met nick woodhams.. i wouldn’t trust this guy as far as i can throw him. A former friend of mine is best friends with the guy. my former friend told me of his business, and the GOD amounts of money this guy was making. he even bought a 68,000 dollar ariel atom. expensive cars, and motorcycles. But thanks to the BBB and the consumers, the government came in and seized all his assets. (Which made me laugh). i saw this guy 2 years ago, when he wrecked a friends motorcycle. But last i was told, he was in a heap of crap with the government and was looking at prison time.
    I am sorry to hear of all your stories.

    this is his facebook account
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/profile.php?id=12101952&ref=sgm

    this guy is roughly about 23-26… supposedly was told he has tons of intelligence. but… if he did he wouldn’t have been caught…

    again i am sorry to hear of your stories.