Try To Exchange Your iPod Due To A Scratch, Apple Scratches It More And Sends It Back

Reader Matthew bought a new MacBookPro and an iPod from Apple. The MacBook was ok but the iPod came with a scratch on the screen. He decided to try to exchange it for an undamaged iPod. He sent it back to Apple and instead of a new iPod he got his old one back with an additional scratch on it.

Matthew writes:

So, upon my recent graduation from college, I found myself bestowed with a considerable financial sum in the form of gifts. I decided to take that money and invest in a MacBook Pro and, since I have never owned an mp3 player, a new 160GB iPod Classic. The computer arrives, and it’s gorgeous. The iPod? Not so much. There’s a disfiguring scratch on the screen. I load a video into the iPod to see if it’s really going to be that bad or if it’s something I can live with. It’s definitely not something I can live with.

I call Apple Sales and explain that my new iPod, a $349.00 investment, has arrived with a significant defect, and I’d like to exchange it. Not to worry, I’m told, as this is something AppleCare can handle for me! Thank goodness, I think, as the kind sales rep transfers me to Support. On the phone with Support, I explain what has happened, and the rep agrees with me that this is unacceptable, and he’ll send me a box t ship my iPod back to them immediately. The box should arrive in 2 to 3 business days. A week later, no box and I’m moving to NYC. I finally get moved up, settled in, and I call my Mom to ask if that box ever arrived. It hadn’t. I call Apple and a Support rep tells me I’m lying, as their records clearly indicate the box was shipped, and DHL’s records clearly indicate it was left on a front porch. Well, thank you Apple, I’m glad DHL decided to leave the box unattended. What if this was my replacement iPod?

The rep finally agrees to send me another box, but wants to know why I waited so long, and says that’s really irresponsible of me. A week later, my box arrives. I send off the iPod.

After a 12 or so day period, I get an e-mail saying that my iPod is being returned to me, as Apple technicians couldn’t find the problem I had described. They couldn’t find the giant scratch that dominates a quarter of the screen?

Afterwards came many a snafu with DHL, including having Apple change my shipping address to my office, so that it won’t arrive at my home and either be left unattended or returned (as has already happened once, after I took off work to receive the package, and the delivery person never knocked on my door, merely stuck the “We missed you!” sticker on it), and then getting a call from DHL to let me know it was being returned again because they hadn’t changed the address, but if I wanted, I could take the train into Brooklyn to pick up my package at their delivery center.

My iPod finally arrived Monday, the same day as an email warning me my AppleCare Plan was almost up!
Counting on my fingers, of my almost three months of owning an iPod, Apple has had it more than I have.
I opened up the package Monday, and lo and behold, not only is the iPod unfixed, there is a new scratch along the bottom of the screen.

I’ve written numerous e-mails to Apple, and filled out three quality of support surveys as overwhelmingly negative, and written the whole story to date each time in their comments box.

I’m headed to the Apple Store after work tomorrow, and I’m not leaving until somebody gives me a new iPod. You’d think that spending around $3,500.00 would entitle you to some level of dedication, but you’d be wrong.


What a mess. We hope you have a better experience at the Apple Store. Watch out for restocking fees.

(Photo:Plankton 4:20)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Coelacanth says:

    I love how the OP considers Apple products “investments.” Depreciating assets is more like it.

    Then again, at least the computer can possibly generate returns.

  2. djanes1 says:

    Just buy a Zune.

  3. BigBoat says:

    Pics pls.

  4. krose says:

    I would have gone to the store in the first place. It’s a lot harder for them to BS that they can’t find the problem if you are standing right there pointing it out to them.

  5. warf0x0r says:

    My iPod is scratched to hell on the back, its very prone. If it were the screen that’d be a different deal tho.

  6. Buran says:

    Scratched out of the box? I have never personally had that happen to me but that is just my personal experience. If true, I’m sorry to hear that – what a mess! Did you buy directly from Apple? (I always have). If not, perhaps it was a returned item sold as new? I can’t tell because you say “from Apple” but as Apple is the only maker of ipods I am not sure if you mean direct or not.

    ipod screens can scratch easily which is part of why the iphone screen is glass (I’m not sure about the ipod touch) and I hope that in the future glass is used across the entire line, especially for something that a lot of people carry around in their pockets.

  7. arch05 says:

    Pics would be great. Seconding the ‘investments these are not’ comment.

  8. carterbeauford says:


    amen to that.

    the way Apple treats its customers is borderline criminal. if in any doubt, file a chargeback. their tune changes when they don’t have their money anymore. I had to do this to return a Powerbook that was defective out of the box. you spent $2,000 on a product that doesn’t work? sorry, you can’t return it.

  9. Buran says:

    @warf0x0r: I put mine in cases from day one to prevent this from happening but yes, the back is very scratchprone. That’s why I was surprised when Apple went back to chrome backs after solving the problem with the second-gen ipod nano which has the same anodized Al back as the front does (in fact, there’s no “back” on those, at least not as a separate part).

  10. SaveMeJeebus says:

    At least they sent it back.

  11. Bizdady says:

    lol That last line had me cracking up… Dedication to customers from apple? hahah ya right

  12. Machete_Bear says:

    Apple is a strange beast, because in all of my dealings with their customer service, I have had nothing but good experiences, yet in-store, I am treated like a leatherbound man with a toilet paper tube trying to buy a gerbil from a pet store…maybe not my best analogy, but they do treat you like you are some sort of deviant who doesn’t deserve their lofty products.

  13. B says:

    @Machete_Bear: That’s cause you are some sort of deviant who doesn’t deserve Mac products. I bet you touched a Windows-OS machine once, and haven’t been properly sanitized.

  14. dorkins says:

    @Machete_Bear: Maybe you should put down the tube.

  15. valarmorghulis says:

    @djanes1: I like my Archos 605 a LOT more than my Zune.

  16. mgy says:

    Your first mistake was allowing the lady to transfer you to support. Apple wants to funnel everything into appleacare coverage in order to minimize their losses.

    I used to work for an apple reseller. Make sure that you INSIST on an actual exchange, just like you were switching out lightbulbs at wal-mart. There’s no excuse if you are within the return period for not being granted an exchange.

    So instead of doing this, they sent you a mishandled ipod, which led to the first scratch (which could indicate it being dropped – which could cause more problems in the future), then they insisted that you send it to their techs who mishandled it some more, and now its back to you. At this point, you are probably beyond any sort of return period, and they’ll just want you to send it in for applecare coverage again. It’s a vicious cycle.

  17. nequam says:

    @djanes1: Excellent point, given that Zunes are impervious to scratches!

    Is there dirt on your MacBook, by a frickin’ Dell!


  18. redhelix says:

    @nequam: I think the point he was trying to make is Microsoft support on Zunes is VIP-level stuff. And as someone who’s owned both a Zune and an iPod, he’s right; MS treats me way better with my Zune than Apple did with my iPod. (See: Zune 2.0 firmware update.) They’re really putting in a good effort to get people to switch from iPods.

  19. Bladefist says:

    no pictures so it didnt happen

  20. Zain says:

    @COELACANTH: You must not be very familiar with finance or economics if you think that a depreciating asset cannot be an investment. If the asset allows you to generate wealth, it certainly is an investment, whether the value of the asset itself depreciates or appreciates.

  21. cindel says:

    Creative Zen FTW.

    Sorry to hear that, go get your ipod.

  22. rjhiggins says:

    @mgy: “Your first mistake…”

    All right, already finding a way to blame the consumer!

  23. IrisMR says:

    Get a Zen or a Sansa already. iPods are overpriced and overhyped.

  24. dorkins says:

    “Try To Exchange Your iPod Due To A Scratch, Apple Scratches It More And Sends It Back.”

    There’s a reason for this age-old nursery rhyme, my friend. And you ignored it at your peril!

  25. yesteryear says:

    this seems weird to me because a) there is a 3 month applecare plan? that seems awfully short. and not worth purchasing at all. does he mean the warranty? and b) why would you even go through applecare in the case of a defective product that’s never been used. it should have just been put back in the package and returned for an exchange immediately – not loaded with movies to “test it out”.

    i’ve had great experiences with apple, both at the store and through applecare (just last month – after my applecare had expired – the guys at the apple store fixed my imac G5 for free, saving me over $900 for a new logic board and DVD drive). i hope this is resolved, but to be honest i’m getting a little bored with all the apple-hating around here – does Dell or HP really have better customer service? someone tell me!

  26. Coelacanth says:

    @ZAIN – I allowed the laptop to be considered an instrument for generating wealth. An iPod, however, would not…

  27. UpsetPanda says:

    I have a silver lining…at least they sent it back!

  28. kelmeister says:

    @valarmorghulis: How is it as a music player? I’ve had the 605 WiFi on my Amazon wishlist since it was announced, but I’ve been reading some reviews that say it’s not really set up as a music player, and that the battery life is pretty bad. Also, did you buy direct from Archos?

  29. Falconfire says:

    @carterbeauford: Its so cute how you all ban together since your so small in numbers.

    You do realize Apple has one of the highest ratings in customer support. The internet is not a good general gauge for customer satisfaction.

  30. digitalhen says:

    @yesteryear: have to agree. perhaps it got scratched by accident and they just want a new one.

  31. Trai_Dep says:

    I’ve returned my 1st-Gen Nano to the Apple Store simply for the reason that the newer one came out. One week past the 2-week return policy expired. Reversed charges on my credit card (not even a swap, since the newer ones weren’t in yet).

    Promptly gave ’em more money later when they did. So Apple did well by doing good.

    Sounds like idiosyncratic Apple Care Repping, plus DHL screw-ups. I’d keep on it, though. Someone messed up.

    And, your warantee is extended for what they fixed (or “fixed” in your case). So when calling back (or going to an Apple Store), remind them of this.

  32. mgy says:

    @rjhiggins: Maybe you misunderstood me or I wasn’t clear enough. I’m not saying that the situation is his fault, I’m simply indicating where he veered of the path towards getting what he wanted. I then proceeded to place ALL blame on apple for misleading him.

  33. Trick says:

    Well you are not a true Mac’y. You are a wannabe Mac’y who has only jumped on this popularity bandwagon because you think it will make you cool and accepted by the real deal.

    Honestly I am so tired of all these people buying Macs so because they think that spending a few bucks automatically allows them the full benefit of being a Mac’y.

    Do us a favor and go buy a Dell or something next time. We don’t need any more whiners.

  34. Eshin says:

    I am always curious if these horrible support stories could be simply prevented by lowering the turnover, and not outsourcing? I know that from my own experience call centers have high turnover, and this leads to a huge amount of errors. I’d suggest calling and then working your way up the command chain.

  35. ptrix says:

    without before & after pictures of the iPod, we really have no way of knowing how severe, or even visible the scratch is, and even with pics, we’d have no way to verify whether or not it was scratched when he originally opened the box, or if it happened sometime after due to carelessness/irresponsibility. The unfortunate truth about ipods, is that they are very susceptible to scratching, which would explain why iPod cases are popular accessories. If he felt it was an “investment”, he should have taken proper steps to protect it, no?

    Cosmetic defects, (such as scratches and normal wear & tear) aren’t typically covered by warranty anyway. if the screen was actually cracked, he’d probably have had better luck. My personal suggestion: be happy that you got a free ipod as a gift, and remember that there is no substitution for personal responsibility

  36. ludwigk says:

    It is VERY hard to get cosmetic damage covered, because AppleCare doesn’t cover cosmetic damage. That means if you send your iPod in for service, and it gets some scratches on it, that’s your problem.

    Having said that, the ipod should have been pristine out of the box. I’ve never seen an iPod come out of a box looking anything but perfect (and I’ve dealt with hundreds of them), but it stands to reason that a packaging error could happen.

    I do know that a lot of customer complaints over cosmetic problems are nearly undetectable, and have no deleterious effect on the functionality of the product.

  37. jwissick says:

    My iPhone was non-functional and scratched out of the box…. It happens… Maybe someone takes it out for testing then drops it and puts it back with out noticing… I have no idea, but it happened to me too.

  38. heyguy says:

    OP talks funny.

  39. mathwiz1991 says:

    I had a very pleasant experience the other day at the Apple Store where I live. I walked in and made an appointment that was for 15 minutes later, talked to a guy about my ipod which had broken from my abuse of the headphone port and wouldn’t play sound. He immediately started doing something on his computer and then set down a brand-new ipod, I signed the receipt and walked out.

    The odd thing here is was that when he entered the serial number, it came up as being well over 2 years old (i bought it October 05) and he gave me a new ipod no questions asked!!

  40. stpauliegirl says:

    I got a scratched-up iHome alarm clock thingy online from the Apple Store, and I called them and accused them of selling me a refurbished product in place of a new one. They didn’t like that suggestion, but it got results. Swapping it out was easy and hassle-free; the whole process took less than two weeks, and it was, like, a $75 item. I’m scratching my head as to why they couldn’t do the same thing on a much more expensive item.

  41. carterbeauford says:


    just sharing my personal experience with Apple, I’m welcome to suggestions as to why I should spend another dime with a company that doesn’t let you return your purchase.

    in review:

    bought Powerbook from Apple store
    Powerbook didn’t work
    Apple store’s policy at the time prohibited returning custom configured computers
    filed chargeback with CC issuer
    microwaved Powerbook so they couldn’t resell it
    sent it back
    Apple store = scam

    it was my $2,000, I was going to get it back one way or another. customer satisfaction ratings are useless. blame the consumer = my mistake for buying hippie garbage in the first place.

  42. Crrusher says:

    you should have gotten it at best buy

  43. mariospants says:

    This is par for the course along with dead pixels, software crashed and other “acceptable defects”.

    I babied my Wii when I pulled it out of the box on launch day and I kid you not when I tell you it was pristine when I sent it to Nintendo for repair (yes, they break). They sent it back semi-fixed (now makes noise but it works) but worst of all, they scuffed and scratched it and left what were probably cola or coffee spots on it.

    Shitty, but you have to deal with it, I guess.

  44. Kloud says:

    @Trick: Do us all a favor and stay with your clique where status matters and owning anything but the most expensive products makes you uncool.

    We don’t need people like you in the real world.

  45. northernplateguy says:

    @djanes1: Wouldn’t catch me buying a Zune!! []

  46. sam says:

    This happened to me when I first got my iPod Nano! I took it to the Apple Store and it was a no hassle replacement. As soon as I walked in they were quick to resolve the issue and swap it out with a brand new one! It’s the service that I would expect with such a high price tag.
    I think Apple’s pretty good with service if you just give them a chance (particularly at their retail stores).

  47. Smorgasbord says:

    For years I have used the stick-on PDA protectors for my PDA, iPod, watch, travel alarm clock, and anything else I don’t want to get scratched. I usually buy the largest ones and cut to fit. When they get scratched I just peel them off and put on new. No scratches for many years now.